A shattering close encounter with death, the painfully voluptuous visual and aural experience of which should elicit only an eloquent silence. Three sisters have taken up residence in a large family manor:  Agnes (Harriet Andersson), dying in agony of cancer; Karin (Ingrid Thulin), ripped apart by a vampirelike appetite for human connection and an inability to get outside herself; and Maria (Liv Ullmann), trapped in her own narcissism and sensuality.  Death, to Agnes's sisters, is inconvenient, an affront to their egotism—they are heartless souls islanded within the rounds of their flesh.  In contrast, the dead Agnes, sacramentally cradled against her maid's earth-mother breasts, finds heaven—even resurrection—in sweet memories of summer innocence.  This superb film plumbs the deepest, darkest waters of the female body and spirit to find transcendent beauty and truth.