The concept of “Mystical Light” is linked to a precise use of lighting linked to the divine presence, to the relationship of what is physical, with an otherworldly and divine presence.
Sven Nykvist often uses light in this way, giving it a precise meaning and making the light become a real character within the film.
This is particularly evident in films such as “Winter Lights”, a film about the absence and silence of god who, when he makes himself present, does so in the form of intense light.
The peculiarity of the mystical light is that it is very intense and is generally identifiable in a ray or beam of light.
Its presence is underlined by the character who turns towards it, as if it responded to an intimate call to God and faith.
For example, this happens in Winter Lights, when Tomas pronounces the words “God, why have you forsaken me?”, and again in Kristin Lavransdatter, when Lavrans enters to pray in the great cathedral of Skog, or when Father Ervin looks towards the great stained glass windows together with Kristin and is hit by a cascade of colored light.
It is clear that this use of light has a reason for being in films where the discussion of issues that relate to faith, to the relationship with God is explicit.
Not included in this type of illumination are all those otherworldly manifestations that are not associated with something divine and by this I mean the representation of visions and ghosts (The Hour of the Wolf). Although their lighting is always taken care of by overexposures that make these figures dazzling, in this case the concept of mystical light falls, which must be a passing and dazzling beam of light. The architecture of Gothic churches teaches this: the windows are at the top, because divine light comes from above and through very specific beams that fall on the altar. The details of this use of light can be found in the detailed analyzes by Winter Lights and Kristin Lavransdatter by Liv Ullmann.