Discussion:
Ingmar Bergman, RIP
(too old to reply)
p***@yahoo.com
2007-07-30 16:03:27 UTC
Permalink
From the New York Times
July 30, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89

By MERVYN ROTHSTEIN
Ingmar Bergman, the "poet with the camera" who is considered one of
the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the
small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden,
Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation,
said. Bergman was 89.

Critics called Mr. Bergman one of the directors - the others being
Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa - who dominated the world of
serious film making in the second half of the 20th century.

He moved from the comic romp of lovers in "Smiles of a Summer Night"
to the Crusader's search for God in "The Seventh Seal," and from the
gripping portrayal of fatal illness in "Cries and Whispers" to the
alternately humorous and horrifying depiction of family life in "Fanny
and Alexander."

Mr. Bergman dealt with pain and torment, desire and religion, evil and
love; in Mr. Bergman's films, "this world is a place where faith is
tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory,"
Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times Magazine in a profile of
the director. God is either silent or malevolent; men and women are
creatures and prisoners of their desires.

For many filmgoers and critics, it was Mr. Bergman more than any other
director who in the 1950s brought a new seriousness to film making.

"Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics - religion, death,
existentialism - to the screen," Bertrand Tavernier, the French film
director, once said. "But the best of Bergman is the way he speaks of
women, of the relationship between men and women. He's like a miner
digging in search of purity."

He influenced many other film makers, including Woody Allen, who
according to The Associated Press said in a tribute in 1988 that Mr.
Bergman was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered,
since the invention of the motion picture camera."

In his more than 40 years in the cinema, Mr. Bergman made about 50
films, often focusing on two themes - the relationship between the
sexes, and the relationship between mankind and God. Mr. Bergman found
in cinema, he wrote in a 1965 essay, "a language that literally is
spoken from soul to soul in expressions that, almost sensuously,
escape the restrictive control of the intellect."

In Bergman, the mind is constantly seeking, constantly inquiring,
constantly puzzled.

Mr. Bergman often acknowledged that his work was autobiographical, but
only "in the way a dream transforms experience and emotions all the
time."

He carried out a simultaneous career in the theater, becoming a
director of Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theater. He married multiple
times and had highly publicized and passionate liaisons with his
leading ladies.

Mr. Bergman broke upon the international film scene in the mid-1950s
with four films that shook the movie world, films that became
identified with him and symbols of his career - "Smiles of a Summer
Night," "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries" and "The Magician."

He had been a director for 10 years, but was little known outside
Sweden. Then, in 1956, "Smiles" won a special prize at the Cannes Film
Festival. The next year, the haunting and eloquent "Seventh Seal,"
with its memorable medieval visions of a knight (Max von Sydow)
playing chess with death in a world terrorized by the plague, won
another special prize at Cannes. And in 1959, "The Magician" took the
special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Audiences flocked to art cinemas all over the world to see his films.
Then, in 1960, "The Virgin Spring", told of a rape and its mysterious
aftermath in medieval Scandinavia; it won the Academy Award as best
foreign film. In a few years, he had become both a cult figure and a
box-office success.

Throughout his career, Mr. Bergman often talked about what he
considered the dual nature of his creative and private personalities.
"I am very much aware of my own double self," he once said. "The well-
known one is very under control; everything is planned and very
secure. The unknown one can be very unpleasant. I think this side is
responsible for all the creative work - he is in touch with the child.
He is not rational, he is impulsive and extremely emotional."

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born on July 14, 1918, in the university town
of Uppsala, Sweden. His father, Erik, a Lutheran clergyman who later
became chaplain to the Swedish royal family, believed in strict
discipline, including caning and locking his children in closets. His
mother, Karin, was moody and unpredictable.

"I was very much in love with my mother," he told Alan Riding of The
New York Times in a 1995 interview. "She was a very warm and a very
cold woman. When she was warm, I tried to come close to her. But she
could be very cold and rejecting."

The young Mr. Bergman accompanied his father on preaching rounds of
small country churches near Stockholm.

"While father preached away in the pulpit and the congregation prayed,
sang or listened," he once recalled, "I devoted my interest to the
church's mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of
eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above the strangest
vegetation of medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and
walls. There was everything that one's imagination could desire -
angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans."

His earliest memories, he once said, were of light and death:

"I remember how the sunlight hit the edge of my dish when I was eating
spinach and, by moving the dish slightly from side to side, I was able
to make different figures out of the light. I also remember sitting
with my brother, in the backyard of my flat, aiming with slingshots at
enormous black rats scurrying around. And I also remember being forced
to sit in church, listening to a very boring sermon, but it was a very
beautiful church, and I loved the music and the light streaming
through the windows. I used to sit up in the loft beside the organ,
and when there were funerals, I had this marvelous long-shot view of
the proceedings, with the coffin and the black drapes, and then later
at the graveyard, watching the coffin lowered into the ground. I was
never frightened by these sights. I was fascinated."

At the age of 9, he traded a set of tin soldiers for a battered magic
lantern, a possession that altered the course of his life. Within a
year, he had created, by playing with this toy, a private world, he
later recalled, in which he felt completely at home. He fashioned his
own scenery, marionettes and lighting effects and gave puppet
productions of Strindberg plays in which he spoke all the parts.

He entered the University of Stockholm in 1937, nominally to study the
history of literature but actually to spend most of his time working
in amateur theater. He soon left home and university for a career in
the theater and the movies.

He split his time between film and theater beginning in the early
1940s, when he first was taken into the script department of Svensk
Filmindustri - a youth, as his first boss described him, "shabby, rude
and scampish with a laugh born out of the darkest depths of the
inferno."

In his theater career, he became head of the municipal theater in the
southern Swedish city of Halsingborg in 1944; in 1946, he switched to
Goteborg for four years, then spent two years as a guest producer in a
couple of cities before going to Malmo in 1952 to become associated
with the municipal theater there.

In films, he wrote many scenarios as well as directed. His name first
appeared on the screen in 1944 in "Torment," which he wrote and Alf
Sjoberg, one of the dominant figures in Swedish film, directed. The
film, based on a story Bergman wrote about his final, torturous year
at school, won eight Swedish awards as well as the Grand Prix du
Cinema at Cannes. It made an international star of its leading
performer, Mai Zetterling, who portrayed a shop girl loved by a young
student and shadowed by the student's sadistic teacher.

Mr. Bergman got his first chance to direct the next year. His early
films were essentially training films - basically soap operas that
enabled him to experiment with directorial style.

Most experts agree that his first film of note was "Prison," his sixth
movie and the first all-Bergman production. The film is the story of a
prostitute who committed suicide. He made it in 18 days, and while
critics have called it cruel, disjointed and in many ways sophomoric,
it was an early favorite of his.

In the next few years, he made "Summer Interlude" (1950), a tragedy of
teen-age lovers; "Waiting Women" (1952), his first successful comedy;
"Sawdust and Tinsel" set in a traveling circus and originally released
in the United States as "The Naked Night"; "A Lesson in Love" (1953),
a witty comedy of marital infidelity, and, finally, "Smiles of a
Summer Night" and "The Seventh Seal," his breakthroughs to fame.

In 1957, the same year as "Seventh Seal," Mr. Bergman also directed
"Wild Strawberries," his acclaimed study of old age. In the film, the
78-year-old Isak Borg (played by the silent-film director and actor
Victor Sjostrom), drives through the countryside, stops at his
childhood home, relives the memory of his first love and comes to
terms with his emotional isolation. "I had created a figure who, on
the outside, looked like my father but was me, through and through,"
Mr. Bergman has said. "I was then 37, cut off from all human
emotions."

Mr. Bergman won his second Academy Award in 1961 for "Through a Glass
Darkly," and then came the turning point in his career - "Winter
Light," which he made in 1963, the second of his trilogy of the early
60s that ended with "The Silence" and portrayed the loneliness and
vulnerability of modern man, without faith or love. Many of his
earlier films had been animated by an anguished search for belief, Ms.
Kakutani wrote, but "Winter Light" - which shows a minister's own loss
of faith - implies that whatever answers there are are to be found on
earth.

Mr. Bergman explained that the philosophical shift occurred during a
brief hospital stay. Awakening from the anesthesia, he realized that
he was no longer scared of death, and that the question of death had
suddenly disappeared. Since then, many critics feel, his films have
contained a kind of humanism in which human love is the only hope of
salvation.

Some critics lashed at individual films as obscure, pretentious and
meaningless.

But every time he made a failure, he managed to win back critics and
audiences quickly with such films as "Persona" - in which the
personalities of two women break down and merge - "The Passion of
Anna," "Cries and Whispers" - a stark portrait of three sisters - and
"Fanny and Alexander."

Mr. Bergman often used what amounted to a repertory company - a group
of actors who appeared in many of his films. They included Mr. von
Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Erland
Josephson and, above all, Liv Ullmann, with whom he had a long
personal relationship and with whom he had a child. He also for many
years used the same cinematographer, Sven Nykvist.

The ideas for his films, he said, came to him in many ways. "Persona,"
the study of two women in neurotic intimacy, came to life, he said,
when one day he saw two women sitting together comparing hands. "I
thought to myself," he said, "that one of them is mute and the other
speaks."

The germ for "The Silence" - in which a dying woman and her sister are
in a foreign country with no means of communication - came from a
hospital visit, he said, where "I noticed from a window a very old
man, enormously fat and paralyzed, sitting in a chair under a tree in
the park."

"As I watched," he said, "four jolly, good-natured nurses came
marching out, lifted him up, chair and all, and carried him back into
the hospital. The image of being carried away like a dummy stayed in
my mind."

In other cases, films were suggested by essays, novels, pieces of
music. In every case, he said, some outside event had turned the key
on some deep-seated memory - each film was a projection of some past
experience.

"I have maintained open channels with my childhood," he told Ms.
Kakutani. "I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in
the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I
can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it
was - with lights, smells, sounds and people . . . I remember the
silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of
the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the
tension between my father and mother."

Mr. Bergman used his memories in many other films: "Scenes From a
Marriage" (which was originally done for television), "Autumn Sonata,"
"From the Life of the Marionettes," "Hour of the Wolf," "Shame," "Face
to Face" and his version of Mozart's "Magic Flute," considered by many
to be the most successful film ever made of an opera.
From the 1950s through the 1990s, Mr. Bergman maintained his
successful theatrical career in Sweden. It was while rehearsing
Strindberg's "Dance of Death" at the Royal Dramatic Theater in
Stockholm in 1976 that he was arrested for tax evasion. The incident
received a great deal of publicity, and while the charges were later
dropped and the Swedish Government issued a formal apology, Mr.
Bergman exiled himself from Sweden to West Germany, where he made "The
Serpent's Egg." He had a nervous breakdown over the incident and was
hospitalized for a time. The exile lasted for a number of years and he
only returned permanently to his native country in the mid-80s.

In 1982, Mr. Bergman announced that he had just made his last
theatrical film - it was "Fanny and Alexander," a look at high society
in a Swedish town early in the last century that was in part inspired
by his own childhood.

"Making 'Fanny and Alexander' was such a joy that I thought that
feeling will never come back," he told Ms. Kakutani. "I will try to
explain: When I was at university many years ago, we were all in love
with this extremely beautiful girl. She said no to all of us, and we
didn't understand. She had had a love affair with a prince from Egypt
and, for her, everything after this love affair had to be a failure.
So she rejected all our proposals. I would like to say the same thing.
The time with 'Fanny and Alexander' was so wonderful that I decided it
was time to stop. I have had my prince of Egypt."

"Fanny and Alexander" won four Oscars, including the Academy Award for
best foreign film in 1984.

Mr. Bergman did not, however, leave the world of film altogether. He
spent much of his time on Faro, a sparsely populated island that
visitors described as chilly and desolate but that he considered the
one place he felt safe, secure and at home. And he would devote his
mornings to working on his plays, novels and television scripts.

He made a television film, "After the Rehearsal" - about three actors
working on a production of Strindberg's "Dream Play" - which was
released theatrically in the United States. He wrote "The Best
Intentions," first as a novel and then in 1991 as an eloquent six-hour
film directed by Billie August about Mr. Bergman's parents' troubled
marriage just before his birth.

"The slightly fictional Anna and Henrik Bergman are complex, stubborn,
well-meaning people who share a heartbreaking inability to be happy no
matter what they try," Ms. James wrote, and Mr. Bergman "is a
benevolent ghost hovering over the film."

Mr. Bergman said in an interview in Sweden that the act of writing the
film had changed his attitude toward his parents. "After this," he
said, "every form of reproach, blame, bitterness or even vague feeling
that they have messed up my life is gone forever from my mind."

"The Best Intentions" was one of three novels he wrote in the 80s and
90s about his parents. The second, "Sunday's Children," was made into
a film and directed by his son Daniel. The third, "Private
Confessions," about his mother, became a film directed by Ms. Ullmann.

In 1997, he directed a two-hour made-for-television movie, "In the
Presence of Clowns," set in the 1920s and based on a story he
discovered among the papers left by an uncle who appeared as a main
character in "Fanny and Alexander" and "Best Intentions" and was
played in all three films by Borje Ahlstedt.

He directed two plays every year at the Royal Dramatic Theater. In May
1995 the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of a New York Bergman
Festival that included retrospectives by the Film Society of Lincoln
Center and the Museum of Television and Radio, presented the Royal
Theater in two plays Mr. Bergman directed, Shakespeare's "Winter's
Tale" and Yukio Mishima's "Madame de Sade."

He also directed operas, and wrote many plays and television dramas,
several novels and a 1987 memoir, "The Magic Lantern."

[In the fall of 2002, Bergman, at age 84, started production on
"Saraband," a 120-minute television movie based on the two main
characters in "Scenes From a Marriage," The Associated Press reported.
In a news conference, the director said he wrote the story after
realizing he was "pregnant with a play." "At first I felt sick, very
sick," he said. "It was strange. Like Abraham and Sarah, who suddenly
realized she was pregnant," he said, referring to biblical characters.
"It was lots of fun, suddenly to feel this urge returning."]

In addition to Oscars and prizes at film festivals, Mr. Bergman's
films won many awards from the New York Film Critics and the National
Society of Film Critics, among others. In 1977, he was given the
Swedish Academy of Letters' Great Gold Medal.

Mr. Bergman's fifth wife, Ingrid Karlebo Bergman, died in 1995. He had
many children from his marriages and relationships.

Once, when asked by the critic Andrew Sarris why he did what he did,
Mr. Bergman told the story of the rebuilding of Chartres Cathedral in
the Middle Ages by thousands of anonymous artisans.

"I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the
plain," he said. "I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the
head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn't
matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer
or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to
build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have
learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never
worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my name
is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of
myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A dragon
or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn't matter!"

Mr. Bergman's celluloid carvings often revealed an obsession with
death. But in later life he said that the obsession had abated. "When
I was young, I was extremely scared of dying," he said. "But now I
think it a very, very wise arrangement. It's like a light that is
extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about."

According to The A.P., which cited TT, the Swedish news agency, the
date of Mr. Bergman's funeral has not been set but will be attended by
a close group of his friends and family.
Boaz
2007-07-30 16:52:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
From the New York Times
July 30, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89
<snip obituary>

Thanks for posting this, Genevieve. Bergman was a true genius and a
rare talent in filmmaking. He was also the last of the "giants" that
cinema produced in the last half of the 20th century.

Boaz
p***@yahoo.com
2007-07-30 17:13:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Boaz
Post by p***@yahoo.com
From the New York Times
July 30, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89
<snip obituary>
Thanks for posting this, Genevieve. Bergman was a true genius and a
rare talent in filmmaking. He was also the last of the "giants" that
cinema produced in the last half of the 20th century.
Boaz
I agree, Boaz. Personally, I think he was the greatest filmmaker of
the 20th century, certainly, the most humanistic, and the rare
director who understood women. Strangely enough, the best Berman film/
comedy that I ever enjoyed (with an audience) was "Smiles of a Summer
Night." It was a great experience.

Gen
Boaz
2007-07-30 18:04:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
Post by Boaz
Post by p***@yahoo.com
From the New York Times
July 30, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89
<snip obituary>
Thanks for posting this, Genevieve. Bergman was a true genius and a
rare talent in filmmaking. He was also the last of the "giants" that
cinema produced in the last half of the 20th century.
Boaz
I agree, Boaz. Personally, I think he was the greatest filmmaker of
the 20th century, certainly, the most humanistic, and the rare
director who understood women. Strangely enough, the best Berman film/
comedy that I ever enjoyed (with an audience) was "Smiles of a Summer
Night." It was a great experience.
Unfortunately, I only saw "Smiles of a Summer Night" on TV. I remember
my parents enjoying it as well. In fact, my parents liked a lot of
Bergman. I remember in college I was assisting this professor in a
film-as-art class, and when he got a print of "Persona" in he let me
take it home to watch before running it in class. I contacted my dad,
and he managed to get his hands on a 16mm projector from his job. So
my parents and I watched "Persona" on a 16mm print at home on a
Saturday night. But this is what one did in the days before VCRs.

When I returned to spend Christmas of '83 with my family I took my
parents to see "Fanny and Alexander." That remained their all-time
favorite Bergman film, with "Smiles" a close second.

All of the old "giants" are gone: Fellini, Kurosawa, Welles, Powell,
Kubrick, and now Bergman. There are still a lot of good filmmakers
working, though most are getting up in years, and they would be the
first to admit they could scarcely fill the shoes of these artists.

Boaz
Harry Bailey
2007-07-31 03:10:52 UTC
Permalink
"Bergmanolatry is sometimes an excuse for grumpy denunciations of the
decline of arthouse cinema, and the decline of a media that supports
it. But right now I'm straining to think of a European film-maker who
really does believe in the urgency of moral questions the way Bergman
did. It really is the end of an era."-Peter Bradshaw

"There are very few directors, about whom you'd say you automatically
have to see everything they do. I'd put Fellini, Bergman and David
Lean at the head of my first list, and Truffaut at the head of the
next level." -Stanley Kubrick (1966).

Just to echo Gen's and Boaz's sentiments on Bergman's death, though
I'm also delighted to see his passing receiving as much coverage as
Kubrick's did eight years ago. Indeed, in Sweden just last week,
practically the entire population of the country were reverently glued
to their television sets to watch Bergman's final film, Saraband, an
updating of his 1970s series, Scenes from a Marriage.

"Bergman was, at the end, quite alone. In an age of digital video,
handheld camerawork, reality TV-influenced postmodern media, his
gaunt, ecclesiastical presence was out of time. Lukas Moodysson, the
young Swedish director of Fucking Amal, Lilya 4-Ever and Hole In My
Heart, whose early work Bergman himself sensationally endorsed as that
of a "young master" is completely different from Bergman's, though
watching You, The Living, the new film from the seriocomic Swedish
director Roy Andersson, I thought I recognised the master's cold,
searching gaze into the limits and the disappointments of our lives."-
Bradshaw.

Still, unlike most film-makers (including former admirer Woody Allen,
who has now retreated into bland comedies) Bergman does not retreat
from his subjects, at least not in his mature work (though he perhaps
did in The Seventh Seal). His great achievement is also what limits
him, in my view; he identifies with and describes his people's
isolation brilliantly, but is unable to go beyond it, as for instance
a Renoir might, and show them as part of a larger world.

Bergman's characters are from a very particular milieu, as are their
concerns, but his conception of them does not go beyond a generic
individuality. His people grapple with some taxing questions, but they
are the questions one could expect of someone living on an island, who
can conveniently forget that there are other ways of seeing.

I can think of other works that take such questions and go much
further with them. David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers and Dennis Potter's
The Singing Detective (BBC version), or Kieslowski's Decalogue and
Three Colours, for instance, are just as uncompromising (and I
believe, in their way, also autobiographical). However, they also
place their characters in context, showing how these people relate to
their surroundings, and how this informs their thinking and their
actions.

Nevertheless, Bergman was just as central to my formative film
universe as a teenager as Tarkovsky and Kubrick.

Harry
-------------------
And I love what Bergman said about fellow visionary film-maker, Andrei
Tarkovsky:

"My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle.

Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of
which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had
always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at
ease.

I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had
always wanted to say without knowing how.

Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language,
true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life
as a dream."

Bergman on Tarkovsky
Wordsmith
2007-07-31 03:23:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Harry Bailey
"Bergmanolatry is sometimes an excuse for grumpy denunciations of the
decline of arthouse cinema, and the decline of a media that supports
it. But right now I'm straining to think of a European film-maker who
really does believe in the urgency of moral questions the way Bergman
did. It really is the end of an era."-Peter Bradshaw
"There are very few directors, about whom you'd say you automatically
have to see everything they do. I'd put Fellini, Bergman and David
Lean at the head of my first list, and Truffaut at the head of the
next level." -Stanley Kubrick (1966).
Just to echo Gen's and Boaz's sentiments on Bergman's death, though
I'm also delighted to see his passing receiving as much coverage as
Kubrick's did eight years ago. Indeed, in Sweden just last week,
practically the entire population of the country were reverently glued
to their television sets to watch Bergman's final film, Saraband, an
updating of his 1970s series, Scenes from a Marriage.
"Bergman was, at the end, quite alone. In an age of digital video,
handheld camerawork, reality TV-influenced postmodern media, his
gaunt, ecclesiastical presence was out of time. Lukas Moodysson, the
young Swedish director of Fucking Amal, Lilya 4-Ever and Hole In My
Heart, whose early work Bergman himself sensationally endorsed as that
of a "young master" is completely different from Bergman's, though
watching You, The Living, the new film from the seriocomic Swedish
director Roy Andersson, I thought I recognised the master's cold,
searching gaze into the limits and the disappointments of our lives."-
Bradshaw.
Still, unlike most film-makers (including former admirer Woody Allen,
who has now retreated into bland comedies) Bergman does not retreat
from his subjects, at least not in his mature work (though he perhaps
did in The Seventh Seal). His great achievement is also what limits
him, in my view; he identifies with and describes his people's
isolation brilliantly, but is unable to go beyond it, as for instance
a Renoir might, and show them as part of a larger world.
Bergman's characters are from a very particular milieu, as are their
concerns, but his conception of them does not go beyond a generic
individuality. His people grapple with some taxing questions, but they
are the questions one could expect of someone living on an island, who
can conveniently forget that there are other ways of seeing.
I can think of other works that take such questions and go much
further with them. David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers and Dennis Potter's
The Singing Detective (BBC version), or Kieslowski's Decalogue and
Three Colours, for instance, are just as uncompromising (and I
believe, in their way, also autobiographical). However, they also
place their characters in context, showing how these people relate to
their surroundings, and how this informs their thinking and their
actions.
Nevertheless, Bergman was just as central to my formative film
universe as a teenager as Tarkovsky and Kubrick.
Harry
-------------------
And I love what Bergman said about fellow visionary film-maker, Andrei
"My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle.
Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of
which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had
always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at
ease.
I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had
always wanted to say without knowing how.
Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language,
true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life
as a dream."
Bergman on Tarkovsky
"I am dead, but I can't leave you!"

-- *Cries and Whispers*

W : (
Boaz
2007-07-31 17:40:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Wordsmith
"I am dead, but I can't leave you!"
-- *Cries and Whispers*
W : (-
Here's more.

Boaz
--------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Wordsmith
From the Los Angeles Times
Ingmar Bergman: Map of his soul

The filmmaker used cinema to explore his secret torments and expose
his anguish.

By Peter Rainer
Special to The Times

July 31, 2007

The movies of Ingmar Bergman constitute a spiritual autobiography
unlike any other in the history of film. He worked out of his deepest
passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his
films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret
torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and
Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the
most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the
circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish
our own.

Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned
metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films
-- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical
odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God
and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently
childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been
startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could
be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest
of all horror movie directors.

Bergman's autobiography "The Magic Lantern" was named for the movie-
camera toy that captivated him as a little boy. Throughout his life he
was enthralled by the primal power of imagery. It's as if everything
he filmed, every landscape he captured, every face he framed, was
being looked at by him for the first time. Although Bergman's movies
were heavily weighted with symbolism -- his most famous symbol was the
medieval knight playing chess with Death in "The Seventh Seal" -- what
we responded to was the fear and wonderment beneath the branding.

Bergman was raised within the strictures of his Lutheran pastor
father, and he understood the carnality that roots itself within
stories of sin and redemption. Not that there is much redemption in
Bergman's movies. There is also little overt sex -- his greatest
erotic scene is a monologue spoken by Bibi Andersson in "Persona" --
and yet his movies are thick with carnality and the contours of flesh.

It makes perfect sense that Bergman was a master director of actors,
for what better sensual landscape could there be than the human face?
His movies are an album of indelible images that are also
consummations of experience. The fierce, frail professor in "Wild
Strawberries" whose face is already a death mask, the infinitely
sorrowful Pieta embrace of the women from "Cries and Whispers," the
mute Samuel Beckett-like nothingness of the final moments from
"Shame," in which adrift, war-torn survivors slip silently overboard
into the waiting abyss -- these moments carry such force that they
might have been summoned from one of our own fever dreams. They have
an infernal intimacy.

Bergman could also be an ineffably happy artist, and this makes sense
too -- it was the flip side to his doominess. The romantic comedy
"Smiles of a Summer Night" is such a lyrical, Mozartian roundelay that
it was inevitable Bergman would one day go in for a total Mozart
immersion.

His "Magic Flute" is by a considerable margin the greatest film opera
made and one of the most blissful of all movie experiences. His last
major film, "Fanny and Alexander," is, among many other wonders, a
rapturous childhood fantasia in which the lavish serenities of family
life are celebrated with a Dickensian fullness.

Bergman has sometimes been called the favorite moviemaker of people
who don't like movies. But just because he Thought Big doesn't mean we
should think small. He didn't just extend the philosophical range of
movies, he also extended their expressive reach. His was not the only
kind of art possible in cinema, but it is an essential one. Nothing
less than the soul is at stake in his films.

Peter Rainer is film critic for the Christian Science Monitor and DVD
critic for Bloomberg News.
ichorwhip
2007-08-02 01:41:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Boaz
Post by Wordsmith
"I am dead, but I can't leave you!"
-- *Cries and Whispers*
W : (-
Here's more.
Boaz
--------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Wordsmith
From the Los Angeles Times
Ingmar Bergman: Map of his soul
The filmmaker used cinema to explore his secret torments and expose
his anguish.
By Peter Rainer
Special to The Times
July 31, 2007
The movies of Ingmar Bergman constitute a spiritual autobiography
unlike any other in the history of film. He worked out of his deepest
passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his
films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret
torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and
Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the
most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the
circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish
our own.
Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned
metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films
-- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical
odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God
and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently
childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been
startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could
be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest
of all horror movie directors.
Comment if I may: This is really the way I feel when I look at any of
Bergman's work, he was terrifyingly real.
Post by Boaz
Bergman's autobiography "The Magic Lantern" was named for the movie-
camera toy that captivated him as a little boy. Throughout his life he
was enthralled by the primal power of imagery. It's as if everything
he filmed, every landscape he captured, every face he framed, was
being looked at by him for the first time. Although Bergman's movies
were heavily weighted with symbolism -- his most famous symbol was the
medieval knight playing chess with Death in "The Seventh Seal" -- what
we responded to was the fear and wonderment beneath the branding.
Bergman was raised within the strictures of his Lutheran pastor
father, and he understood the carnality that roots itself within
stories of sin and redemption. Not that there is much redemption in
Bergman's movies. There is also little overt sex -- his greatest
erotic scene is a monologue spoken by Bibi Andersson in "Persona" --
and yet his movies are thick with carnality and the contours of flesh.
It makes perfect sense that Bergman was a master director of actors,
for what better sensual landscape could there be than the human face?
His movies are an album of indelible images that are also
consummations of experience. The fierce, frail professor in "Wild
Strawberries" whose face is already a death mask, the infinitely
sorrowful Pieta embrace of the women from "Cries and Whispers," the
mute Samuel Beckett-like nothingness of the final moments from
"Shame," in which adrift, war-torn survivors slip silently overboard
into the waiting abyss -- these moments carry such force that they
might have been summoned from one of our own fever dreams. They have
an infernal intimacy.
Bergman could also be an ineffably happy artist, and this makes sense
too -- it was the flip side to his doominess. The romantic comedy
"Smiles of a Summer Night" is such a lyrical, Mozartian roundelay that
it was inevitable Bergman would one day go in for a total Mozart
immersion.
His "Magic Flute" is by a considerable margin the greatest film opera
made and one of the most blissful of all movie experiences. His last
major film, "Fanny and Alexander," is, among many other wonders, a
rapturous childhood fantasia in which the lavish serenities of family
life are celebrated with a Dickensian fullness.
Bergman has sometimes been called the favorite moviemaker of people
who don't like movies. But just because he Thought Big doesn't mean we
should think small. He didn't just extend the philosophical range of
movies, he also extended their expressive reach. His was not the only
kind of art possible in cinema, but it is an essential one. Nothing
less than the soul is at stake in his films.
Peter Rainer is film critic for the Christian Science Monitor and DVD
critic for Bloomberg News.
Really good...
Boaz
2007-08-04 18:04:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by ichorwhip
Post by Boaz
Post by Wordsmith
"I am dead, but I can't leave you!"
-- *Cries and Whispers*
W : (-
Here's more.
Boaz
--------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Wordsmith
From the Los Angeles Times
Ingmar Bergman: Map of his soul
The filmmaker used cinema to explore his secret torments and expose
his anguish.
By Peter Rainer
Special to The Times
July 31, 2007
The movies of Ingmar Bergman constitute a spiritual autobiography
unlike any other in the history of film. He worked out of his deepest
passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his
films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret
torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and
Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the
most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the
circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish
our own.
Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned
metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films
-- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical
odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God
and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently
childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been
startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could
be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest
of all horror movie directors.
Comment if I may: This is really the way I feel when I look at any of
Bergman's work, he was terrifyingly real.
<snip the latter part of the Peter Rainer article on Bergman>

You may get a chuckle out of this, Ich. In the same American Film
issue that had the article "Knocking on Heaven's Door," there is an
article called "Second-Hand Shows," about the popularity of revival
house theaters. Granted, this is something rare in this day of DVDs
and specialty cable channels, but back in the early '80s the revival
house had reached its peak and more cities outside of New York, Los
Angeles and the like were taking a stab at it, and apparently had been
for many years, and not just college towns or college campuses.

Anyway, one item says this regarding a theater owner trying to bring
Bergman into his little town via a revival house theater (called
repertory theaters in the article):

"The Vinegar Hill theater in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a converted
motorcycle showroom; soon after it opened in 1976, says manager Reid
Oechslin, an Ingmar Bergman double bill, Virgin Spring and Naked
Night, drew mostly 'winos' misled by the titles. These days, he adds,
the theater is able to attract more sophisticated audiences."

I wonder if it is still there?

Boaz
("We're going to show you some films.")
ichorwhip
2007-08-06 00:06:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Boaz
Post by ichorwhip
Post by Boaz
Post by Wordsmith
"I am dead, but I can't leave you!"
-- *Cries and Whispers*
W : (-
Here's more.
Boaz
--------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Wordsmith
From the Los Angeles Times
Ingmar Bergman: Map of his soul
The filmmaker used cinema to explore his secret torments and expose
his anguish.
By Peter Rainer
Special to The Times
July 31, 2007
The movies of Ingmar Bergman constitute a spiritual autobiography
unlike any other in the history of film. He worked out of his deepest
passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his
films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret
torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and
Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the
most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the
circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish
our own.
Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned
metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films
-- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical
odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God
and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently
childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been
startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could
be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest
of all horror movie directors.
Comment if I may: This is really the way I feel when I look at any of
Bergman's work, he was terrifyingly real.
<snip the latter part of the Peter Rainer article on Bergman>
You may get a chuckle out of this, Ich. In the same American Film
issue that had the article "Knocking on Heaven's Door," there is an
article called "Second-Hand Shows," about the popularity of revival
house theaters. Granted, this is something rare in this day of DVDs
and specialty cable channels, but back in the early '80s the revival
house had reached its peak and more cities outside of New York, Los
Angeles and the like were taking a stab at it, and apparently had been
for many years, and not just college towns or college campuses.
Anyway, one item says this regarding a theater owner trying to bring
Bergman into his little town via a revival house theater (called
"The Vinegar Hill theater in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a converted
motorcycle showroom; soon after it opened in 1976, says manager Reid
Oechslin, an Ingmar Bergman double bill, Virgin Spring and Naked
Night, drew mostly 'winos' misled by the titles. These days, he adds,
the theater is able to attract more sophisticated audiences."
I wonder if it is still there?
Yep: http://www.vinegarhilltheatre.com/

Not exactly Bergman or Antonioni, but "something like that" <sigh>
Now that the two have spun off this mortal coil maybe they'll get a
nicely ironic revival. Sounds like a pretty cool theater in any
event...

"Vitamins will it be then?"
i
"piop"
kelps
2007-08-02 02:45:57 UTC
Permalink
I wonder if Woody Allen is sitting at home watching Final Destination 3?

dc
Harry Bailey
2007-08-02 18:15:46 UTC
Permalink
And a further interesting critique of Bergman from Steve Shaviro
[though I can't say I agree about his notion of the "Second Golden
Age of Cinema"]:


WIth Ingmar Bergman and Michaelangelo Antonioni dying on the same day,
we have lost two giants from the First Golden Age of Cinephilia (the
1960s and the 1970s, when - at least in the US - such a thing as a
film culture came into existence for the first time). (I consider us
to be living right now through the Second Golden Age of Cinephilia -
DVDs have made a wider range of art films, from a broader part of the
world, more available than ever before; and internet discussions have
led to a more wide-ranging discussion of such films than was ever
possible before). I will write about Bergman here, and Antonioni in a
subsequent post.

My attitude towards Bergman has really changed a lot over the years.
When I was in college and graduate school, in the 1970s, I worshipped
him - he was second only to Godard in revealing to me the
potentialities of film, the heights of artistry of which it was
capable. I found many of his films, basically the whole series, ten
major films or so, that ran from Virgin Spring (1960) through Persona
(1966), and on to Cries and Whispers (1972), to be uniquely powerful,
and indeed devastating. I think that The Passion of Anna (1969),
Bergman's first color film, was also the first film to teach me how
powerful color could be as an element of film. I found Bergman's
portrayals of women to be deeply empathetic, and his themes of loss
and cultural desolation resonated deeply within me.

As I grew older, my attitude changed. Sometime during or after Scenes
from a Marriage (1973), Bergman's artistry seemed to me to have lost
its edge. Either he had become too sentimental, or else his continued
vision of pain and destruction had become too shrill and one-
dimensional. By the time of Fanny and Alexander (1982), I had
completely lost interest in Bergman's ongoing work. What's more, I had
become more than a bit embarrassed by my younger self's enthusiasm
even for his greatest work. What had once seemed profound now struck
me as pretentious. Bergman's existential anguish, his handwringing
over the death of God, his laments about essential loneliness, his
contrived psychodramas: all this seemed to me to add up to a moribund
aesthetic, the last gasp of an old-fashioned humanism and high-culture
snobbery that nobody with any sense could take seriously any longer,
in an age of television and rock 'n' roll and the first personal
computers.

Today, I think that my attitude of contemptuous rejection was as
misguided as my earlier enthusiasm was exaggerated. Perhaps I am
suffering from a general mellowing of my sensibility, which is one of
the most horrible things that often tends to happen to people in
middle age. But I can mention two film experiences that led to my
current re-re-evaluation of Bergman's stature as an artist. The first
was seeing Sunday's Children, a film directed by Daniel Bergman
(Ingmar's son) from Ingmar's own script. This is not a bad film by any
means; it is directed solidly and more than competently, if also a bit
stolidly and unimaginatively. The content (or the script) is pure
Ingmar Bergman, at his most intimate and (presumably)
autobiographical. It recounts the solitude and alienation of a young
(10-year-old) boy, his initiation into the mysteries of death and
sexuality (if I am remembering correctly), and above all his painful
relationship with a harsh, perfectionist, unloving pastor father. The
film affected me precisely because it didn't really work: what was
missing was precisely Ingmar Bergman's lyricism, the expressiveness he
achieved through lighting, through painfully long-held closeups, and
through the rhythms of speech and silence, of tension and anticipation
and (all too rarely) release. Again, I don't want this to sound like I
am just dumping on Daniel Bergman; but the things that were missing
from his film, the things that were recognizably Ingmar-Bergmanian,
but that didn't have the resonance that Ingmar's own directed films
had - all these things made me realize what my harshly negative
judgment of Ingmar Bergman was forgetting, or failing to acknowledge.
I came away from watching Sunday's Children, ironically enough, with a
renewed appreciation of Ingmar Bergman's artistry, of the way he was a
true poet of cinema in the visually minimal, and yet somehow
ravishing, images and details of his films in the heartwrenching
moments of suspension and deadlock and incapacity that these films
came to again and again, scenes that moved me however much I remained
suspicious of his grand statements and pseudo-profound themes.

The second experience was encountering Persona again, for the first
time in years, when -about five years ago - I was teaching a survey
class on film of the 1960s and 1970s. I was struck by so many things:
things that I didn't remember from seeing the film in my period of
Bergman-adulation, and that I certainly wasn't even aware of in my
period of Bergman-contempt. There was, first of all, the way that
Bergman's camera dwelt so lovingly - intimately and yet also with a
certain respectful, or even worshipful distance - on Liv Ullman's and
Bibi Andersson's faces, as these women smiled, or cried, or screamed,
as they glanced lovingly or resentfully or jealously at one another.
Then there was the visual tonality of the film, the black-and-white
which was (how shall I put this?) stark but not harsh, with a
luminosity that is too subdued and depressive to be called "radiant,"
but too intensely saturated, too much a visible atmosphere, to be
called anything else. The experimentalism of the film, which I had
feared might come off as gimmicky and hokey, instead struck me as
genuinely exploratory and even brave: I refer not just to the (justly)
famous opening sequence, with its series of mysterious images (and, as
Michel Chion reminds us, evocative sounds), but also the minimalist
scene in the hospital, where Ullman watches the horrors of the Vietnam
War on TV, and especially that moment towards the middle of the film,
when the rupturing of the relationship between the two women is
suddenly transformed into a rupturing of the cinematic apparatus
itself. And then, in terms of narrative and thematics: what I had
remembered as a murky and heavy-handed exercise in existential angst
(Ullman is so distressed by Vietnam or whatever that she decides to
stop speaking, because speech is necessarily impure and inauthentic)
in fact turned out, upon my viewing the film again, to be something
quite different. Something that at first seems stark and clear-cut
turns out, as the film progresses, to be ever more ambiguous and
equivocal, as everything Ullman and Andersson do, by themselves or to
one another, gets entangled in a morass of mixed motives,
uncertainties, confusions, and fabulations. The film becomes more and
more a labyrinthine reflection upon its own fictionality, and (most
remarkably of all) the affective currents which, in the first half of
the film, relate quite firmly to the two main characters turn out
themselves to apply, in a nearly impersonal way, to the confusions
between those characters and their stories in the latter half of the
film. In Persona , in short, Bergman deconstructs his own narrativity
and thematics as rigorously as any of his European contemporaries of
the 1960s were doing - and with more affective power than most.

All in all, Bergman still does not emotionally move me, or
intellectually engage me, as profoundly as Godard, Fassbinder, and
Antonioni do. But I think that now I am more able than I was for a
long time to appreciate the considerable beauties and virtues of his
art.

http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=590
ichorwhip
2007-08-02 01:22:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@yahoo.com
From the New York Times
July 30, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89
By MERVYN ROTHSTEIN
Ingmar Bergman, the "poet with the camera" who is considered one of
the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the
small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden,
Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation,
said. Bergman was 89.
Critics called Mr. Bergman one of the directors - the others being
Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa - who dominated the world of
serious film making in the second half of the 20th century.
He moved from the comic romp of lovers in "Smiles of a Summer Night"
to the Crusader's search for God in "The Seventh Seal," and from the
gripping portrayal of fatal illness in "Cries and Whispers" to the
alternately humorous and horrifying depiction of family life in "Fanny
and Alexander."
Mr. Bergman dealt with pain and torment, desire and religion, evil and
love; in Mr. Bergman's films, "this world is a place where faith is
tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory,"
Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times Magazine in a profile of
the director. God is either silent or malevolent; men and women are
creatures and prisoners of their desires.
For many filmgoers and critics, it was Mr. Bergman more than any other
director who in the 1950s brought a new seriousness to film making.
"Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics - religion, death,
existentialism - to the screen," Bertrand Tavernier, the French film
director, once said. "But the best of Bergman is the way he speaks of
women, of the relationship between men and women. He's like a miner
digging in search of purity."
He influenced many other film makers, including Woody Allen, who
according to The Associated Press said in a tribute in 1988 that Mr.
Bergman was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered,
since the invention of the motion picture camera."
In his more than 40 years in the cinema, Mr. Bergman made about 50
films, often focusing on two themes - the relationship between the
sexes, and the relationship between mankind and God. Mr. Bergman found
in cinema, he wrote in a 1965 essay, "a language that literally is
spoken from soul to soul in expressions that, almost sensuously,
escape the restrictive control of the intellect."
In Bergman, the mind is constantly seeking, constantly inquiring,
constantly puzzled.
Mr. Bergman often acknowledged that his work was autobiographical, but
only "in the way a dream transforms experience and emotions all the
time."
He carried out a simultaneous career in the theater, becoming a
director of Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theater. He married multiple
times and had highly publicized and passionate liaisons with his
leading ladies.
Mr. Bergman broke upon the international film scene in the mid-1950s
with four films that shook the movie world, films that became
identified with him and symbols of his career - "Smiles of a Summer
Night," "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries" and "The Magician."
He had been a director for 10 years, but was little known outside
Sweden. Then, in 1956, "Smiles" won a special prize at the Cannes Film
Festival. The next year, the haunting and eloquent "Seventh Seal,"
with its memorable medieval visions of a knight (Max von Sydow)
playing chess with death in a world terrorized by the plague, won
another special prize at Cannes. And in 1959, "The Magician" took the
special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Audiences flocked to art cinemas all over the world to see his films.
Then, in 1960, "The Virgin Spring", told of a rape and its mysterious
aftermath in medieval Scandinavia; it won the Academy Award as best
foreign film. In a few years, he had become both a cult figure and a
box-office success.
Throughout his career, Mr. Bergman often talked about what he
considered the dual nature of his creative and private personalities.
"I am very much aware of my own double self," he once said. "The well-
known one is very under control; everything is planned and very
secure. The unknown one can be very unpleasant. I think this side is
responsible for all the creative work - he is in touch with the child.
He is not rational, he is impulsive and extremely emotional."
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born on July 14, 1918, in the university town
of Uppsala, Sweden. His father, Erik, a Lutheran clergyman who later
became chaplain to the Swedish royal family, believed in strict
discipline, including caning and locking his children in closets. His
mother, Karin, was moody and unpredictable.
"I was very much in love with my mother," he told Alan Riding of The
New York Times in a 1995 interview. "She was a very warm and a very
cold woman. When she was warm, I tried to come close to her. But she
could be very cold and rejecting."
The young Mr. Bergman accompanied his father on preaching rounds of
small country churches near Stockholm.
"While father preached away in the pulpit and the congregation prayed,
sang or listened," he once recalled, "I devoted my interest to the
church's mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of
eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above the strangest
vegetation of medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and
walls. There was everything that one's imagination could desire -
angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans."
"I remember how the sunlight hit the edge of my dish when I was eating
spinach and, by moving the dish slightly from side to side, I was able
to make different figures out of the light. I also remember sitting
with my brother, in the backyard of my flat, aiming with slingshots at
enormous black rats scurrying around. And I also remember being forced
to sit in church, listening to a very boring sermon, but it was a very
beautiful church, and I loved the music and the light streaming
through the windows. I used to sit up in the loft beside the organ,
and when there were funerals, I had this marvelous long-shot view of
the proceedings, with the coffin and the black drapes, and then later
at the graveyard, watching the coffin lowered into the ground. I was
never frightened by these sights. I was fascinated."
At the age of 9, he traded a set of tin soldiers for a battered magic
lantern, a possession that altered the course of his life. Within a
year, he had created, by playing with this toy, a private world, he
later recalled, in which he felt completely at home. He fashioned his
own scenery, marionettes and lighting effects and gave puppet
productions of Strindberg plays in which he spoke all the parts.
He entered the University of Stockholm in 1937, nominally to study the
history of literature but actually to spend most of his time working
in amateur theater. He soon left home and university for a career in
the theater and the movies.
He split his time between film and theater beginning in the early
1940s, when he first was taken into the script department of Svensk
Filmindustri - a youth, as his first boss described him, "shabby, rude
and scampish with a laugh born out of the darkest depths of the
inferno."
In his theater career, he became head of the municipal theater in the
southern Swedish city of Halsingborg in 1944; in 1946, he switched to
Goteborg for four years, then spent two years as a guest producer in a
couple of cities before going to Malmo in 1952 to become associated
with the municipal theater there.
In films, he wrote many scenarios as well as directed. His name first
appeared on the screen in 1944 in "Torment," which he wrote and Alf
Sjoberg, one of the dominant figures in Swedish film, directed. The
film, based on a story Bergman wrote about his final, torturous year
at school, won eight Swedish awards as well as the Grand Prix du
Cinema at Cannes. It made an international star of its leading
performer, Mai Zetterling, who portrayed a shop girl loved by a young
student and shadowed by the student's sadistic teacher.
Mr. Bergman got his first chance to direct the next year. His early
films were essentially training films - basically soap operas that
enabled him to experiment with directorial style.
Most experts agree that his first film of note was "Prison," his sixth
movie and the first all-Bergman production. The film is the story of a
prostitute who committed suicide. He made it in 18 days, and while
critics have called it cruel, disjointed and in many ways sophomoric,
it was an early favorite of his.
In the next few years, he made "Summer Interlude" (1950), a tragedy of
teen-age lovers; "Waiting Women" (1952), his first successful comedy;
"Sawdust and Tinsel" set in a traveling circus and originally released
in the United States as "The Naked Night"; "A Lesson in Love" (1953),
a witty comedy of marital infidelity, and, finally, "Smiles of a
Summer Night" and "The Seventh Seal," his breakthroughs to fame.
In 1957, the same year as "Seventh Seal," Mr. Bergman also directed
"Wild Strawberries," his acclaimed study of old age. In the film, the
78-year-old Isak Borg (played by the silent-film director and actor
Victor Sjostrom), drives through the countryside, stops at his
childhood home, relives the memory of his first love and comes to
terms with his emotional isolation. "I had created a figure who, on
the outside, looked like my father but was me, through and through,"
Mr. Bergman has said. "I was then 37, cut off from all human
emotions."
Mr. Bergman won his second Academy Award in 1961 for "Through a Glass
Darkly," and then came the turning point in his career - "Winter
Light," which he made in 1963, the second of his trilogy of the early
60s that ended with "The Silence" and portrayed the loneliness and
vulnerability of modern man, without faith or love. Many of his
earlier films had been animated by an anguished search for belief, Ms.
Kakutani wrote, but "Winter Light" - which shows a minister's own loss
of faith - implies that whatever answers there are are to be found on
earth.
Mr. Bergman explained that the philosophical shift occurred during a
brief hospital stay. Awakening from the anesthesia, he realized that
he was no longer scared of death, and that the question of death had
suddenly disappeared. Since then, many critics feel, his films have
contained a kind of humanism in which human love is the only hope of
salvation.
Some critics lashed at individual films as obscure, pretentious and
meaningless.
But every time he made a failure, he managed to win back critics and
audiences quickly with such films as "Persona" - in which the
personalities of two women break down and merge - "The Passion of
Anna," "Cries and Whispers" - a stark portrait of three sisters - and
"Fanny and Alexander."
Mr. Bergman often used what amounted to a repertory company - a group
of actors who appeared in many of his films. They included Mr. von
Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Erland
Josephson and, above all, Liv Ullmann, with whom he had a long
personal relationship and with whom he had a child. He also for many
years used the same cinematographer, Sven Nykvist.
The ideas for his films, he said, came to him in many ways. "Persona,"
the study of two women in neurotic intimacy, came to life, he said,
when one day he saw two women sitting together comparing hands. "I
thought to myself," he said, "that one of them is mute and the other
speaks."
The germ for "The Silence" - in which a dying woman and her sister are
in a foreign country with no means of communication - came from a
hospital visit, he said, where "I noticed from a window a very old
man, enormously fat and paralyzed, sitting in a chair under a tree in
the park."
"As I watched," he said, "four jolly, good-natured nurses came
marching out, lifted him up, chair and all, and carried him back into
the hospital. The image of being carried away like a dummy stayed in
my mind."
In other cases, films were suggested by essays, novels, pieces of
music. In every case, he said, some outside event had turned the key
on some deep-seated memory - each film was a projection of some past
experience.
"I have maintained open channels with my childhood," he told Ms.
Kakutani. "I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in
the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I
can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it
was - with lights, smells, sounds and people . . . I remember the
silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of
the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the
tension between my father and mother."
Mr. Bergman used his memories in many other films: "Scenes From a
Marriage" (which was originally done for television), "Autumn Sonata,"
"From the Life of the Marionettes," "Hour of the Wolf," "Shame," "Face
to Face" and his version of Mozart's "Magic Flute," considered by many
to be the most successful film ever made of an opera.
From the 1950s through the 1990s, Mr. Bergman maintained his
successful theatrical career in Sweden. It was while rehearsing
Strindberg's "Dance of Death" at the Royal Dramatic Theater in
Stockholm in 1976 that he was arrested for tax evasion. The incident
received a great deal of publicity, and while the charges were later
dropped and the Swedish Government issued a formal apology, Mr.
Bergman exiled himself from Sweden to West Germany, where he made "The
Serpent's Egg." He had a nervous breakdown over the incident and was
hospitalized for a time. The exile lasted for a number of years and he
only returned permanently to his native country in the mid-80s.
In 1982, Mr. Bergman announced that he had just made his last
theatrical film - it was "Fanny and Alexander," a look at high society
in a Swedish town early in the last century that was in part inspired
by his own childhood.
"Making 'Fanny and Alexander' was such a joy that I thought that
feeling will never come back," he told Ms. Kakutani. "I will try to
explain: When I was at university many years ago, we were all in love
with this extremely beautiful girl. She said no to all of us, and we
didn't understand. She had had a love affair with a prince from Egypt
and, for her, everything after this love affair had to be a failure.
So she rejected all our proposals. I would like to say the same thing.
The time with 'Fanny and Alexander' was so wonderful that I decided it
was time to stop. I have had my prince of Egypt."
"Fanny and Alexander" won four Oscars, including the Academy Award for
best foreign film in 1984.
Mr. Bergman did not, however, leave the world of film altogether. He
spent much of his time on Faro, a sparsely populated island that
visitors described as chilly and desolate but that he considered the
one place he felt safe, secure and at home. And he would devote his
mornings to working on his plays, novels and television scripts.
He made a television film, "After the Rehearsal" - about three actors
working on a production of Strindberg's "Dream Play" - which was
released theatrically in the United States. He wrote "The Best
Intentions," first as a novel and then in 1991 as an eloquent six-hour
film directed by Billie August about Mr. Bergman's parents' troubled
marriage just before his birth.
"The slightly fictional Anna and Henrik Bergman are complex, stubborn,
well-meaning people who share a heartbreaking inability to be happy no
matter what they try," Ms. James wrote, and Mr. Bergman "is a
benevolent ghost hovering over the film."
Mr. Bergman said in an interview in Sweden that the act of writing the
film had changed his attitude toward his parents. "After this," he
said, "every form of reproach, blame, bitterness or even vague feeling
that they have messed up my life is gone forever from my mind."
"The Best Intentions" was one of three novels he wrote in the 80s and
90s about his parents. The second, "Sunday's Children," was made into
a film and directed by his son Daniel. The third, "Private
Confessions," about his mother, became a film directed by Ms. Ullmann.
In 1997, he directed a two-hour made-for-television movie, "In the
Presence of Clowns," set in the 1920s and based on a story he
discovered among the papers left by an uncle who appeared as a main
character in "Fanny and Alexander" and "Best Intentions" and was
played in all three films by Borje Ahlstedt.
He directed two plays every year at the Royal Dramatic Theater. In May
1995 the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of a New York Bergman
Festival that included retrospectives by the Film Society of Lincoln
Center and the Museum of Television and Radio, presented the Royal
Theater in two plays Mr. Bergman directed, Shakespeare's "Winter's
Tale" and Yukio Mishima's "Madame de Sade."
He also directed operas, and wrote many plays and television dramas,
several novels and a 1987 memoir, "The Magic Lantern."
[In the fall of 2002, Bergman, at age 84, started production on
"Saraband," a 120-minute television movie based on the two main
characters in "Scenes From a Marriage," The Associated Press reported.
In a news conference, the director said he wrote the story after
realizing he was "pregnant with a play." "At first I felt sick, very
sick," he said. "It was strange. Like Abraham and Sarah, who suddenly
realized she was pregnant," he said, referring to biblical characters.
"It was lots of fun, suddenly to feel this urge returning."]
In addition to Oscars and prizes at film festivals, Mr. Bergman's
films won many awards from the New York Film Critics and the National
Society of Film Critics, among others. In 1977, he was given the
Swedish Academy of Letters' Great Gold Medal.
Mr. Bergman's fifth wife, Ingrid Karlebo Bergman, died in 1995. He had
many children from his marriages and relationships.
Once, when asked by the critic Andrew Sarris why he did what he did,
Mr. Bergman told the story of the rebuilding of Chartres Cathedral in
the Middle Ages by thousands of anonymous artisans.
"I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the
plain," he said. "I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the
head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn't
matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer
or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to
build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have
learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never
worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my name
is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of
myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A dragon
or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn't matter!"
Mr. Bergman's celluloid carvings often revealed an obsession with
death. But in later life he said that the obsession had abated. "When
I was young, I was extremely scared of dying," he said. "But now I
think it a very, very wise arrangement. It's like a light that is
extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about."
According to The A.P., which cited TT, the Swedish news agency, the
date of Mr. Bergman's funeral has not been set but will be attended by
a close group of his friends and family.
What an excellent tribute. Loved these late lines from him:

"I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the
plain," he said. "I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the
head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn't
matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer
or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to
build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have
learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never
worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my
name
is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of
myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A
dragon
or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn't matter!"

"Nothing escapes me. No one escapes me."
i
"piop"
Harry Bailey
2007-08-06 16:15:57 UTC
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