Author Topic: Ingmar Bergman  (Read 43128 times)

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Alexandro

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #165 on: August 01, 2007, 11:23:24 AM »
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maybe it's stupid, but if the fucking tree amigos have a thread on the main page, at least we could start one for bergman/fellini/kurosawa and try to discuss those films as they should be discussed from time to time?

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #166 on: August 01, 2007, 11:57:00 AM »
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I don't thinking dedicating forums to these directors will do much, but I think we do need to honor them. The only deceased filmmaker who has a forum is Kubrick. No other filmmaker who is dead has as much news as he does these days.

I think we should do something else to honor the great deceased filmmakers. I say every year Xixax should vote for one filmmaker to go into a sort of hall of fame for XIXAX. Can't vote for people currently making films, but those either dead or retired (meaning no films in the last 5-8 years).

The good thing about something like this is that voting could go on for 2 months and get a better part of the entire board to vote. Only some members consistently come here all the time, but most check up every now and then. Some also don't vote because picking 5 titles for numerous subjects like in the XIXAX Film awards is kind of daunting. Picking one filmmaker is easy. Plus the counting and managing of votes will be a lot easier so it can go on for 2 months.

I think this would be a good end of the year thing. A lot of different people here have different ideas by what deceased filmmakers are great, from Ingmar Bergman to Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. It would be an actual interesting race. People in their signatures can promote who they think should win. Honary banners or threads can be the reward for the winner each year.

Alexandro

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #167 on: August 01, 2007, 12:22:55 PM »
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as long as it leads us to discuss the films in a little more detail than usual any idea is fine.

w/o horse

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #168 on: August 02, 2007, 02:45:34 AM »
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I'm like skeptical and desperate for something like that because:

1.  I don't think that would stimulate conversation from people not already engaging in conversation.  And the odds of people letting their movie schedules being affected by a hall of fame forum is slight.  I mean these topics already exist, and sometimes they get brought back up and slowly drift back to the bottom.  This is the thing:  everyone is at different points in their film lives and we're all watching films at different times and discovering filmmakers in different ways and at different paces.

2.  Aside from post-movie and conversations of happenstance there's not an opportunity for me to discuss the finer points of most of the movies I watch.  There's a reasonable amount of people on this board I think feel the same way, I see them searching out conversations in the same way.  This is the thing:  if they're not having air rifles shot at them, or if a revival circuit isn't going around for them, the older directors are afloat in that Need to See.  A single forum dedicated to a director of considerable output could facilitate the process of discussing the individual films of the filmmaker.  Like, instead of waiting three months for somebody else to watch Hour of the Wolf, forgetting you wanted to talk about Hour of the Wolf by the time someone else posts in the Bergman thread which has been directed towards Scenes from a Marriage, there could be patience of this matter in the hall of fame Hour of the Wolf thread.

So it seems obvious to me something like this should be tried.
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Reinhold

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #169 on: August 03, 2007, 10:37:15 AM »
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maybe a lifetime achievement category added to the xixax awards?
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #170 on: August 03, 2007, 11:20:17 AM »
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maybe a lifetime achievement category added to the xixax awards?

That still means the very few people who voted for those awards would vote for this one. It limit the award from representing more of the forum. Right now XIXAX only has two awards in the yearly movie awards and the Dekapenticon. We should add a third to round it out.

modage

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The Director of the Month: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #171 on: August 06, 2007, 09:04:17 PM »
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Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #172 on: August 09, 2007, 03:48:10 AM »
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I'll going to be going through numerous Bergman titles. I'll start with two of his finest films. Two works that deserve more attention. The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries are not worthy of the acclaim they receive. They mark his early period where he over used symbolism and wasn't yet rooted in his storytelling. I'd replace those titles with these instead.



THE PASSION OF ANNA - A remarkable experiment. Bergman digs into the psyche and complexes of four characters. The film mixes fictional story with actor comments on the characters. The initial fear is that these comments will pigeon hole the characters and keep them from being organic to us.

That only seems to happen with Bibbi Andersson and Erland Josephsom, who play secondary characters anyways. The comments about Andreas (played by Max Von Sydow) and Anna (played by Liv Ullmann) only dig at the basics of their characters. The story continues to be surprising about their characters and utilizes other subplots to wonderfully exude the tension that exists between them.

The usual complain about this film is that not enough detail about the characters are shown. We barely understand Sydow's past though his character is at the center of the story. His details aren't important. The meat comes in his expressions and antagonisms toward normal human connections. Sydow is masterful for as much as he says with the character with so little. The Dardennes are modern masters for finding detail with the minimal. Bergman and the Dardennes are very different, but Bergman shows his comprehension to sustain depth with minimalism here.



AUTUMN SONATA - The most theatrical Bergman film. Only four characters exist in this story and the action is maintained on a few sets. Even the introduction by the husband has the resonance of an actor on stage introducing the scene.

That shouldn't be a detriment to the film. The story takes a meet and greet situation between a mother and daughter and utilizes it to build up to some of the most powerful scenes in a Bergman film. Usually Bergman is philosophical with storylines and allows the themes to exist in them from the beginning. The characters discuss them and the emotional moments never hit a true revelatory peak because the problems were always existent in the story.

Not in Autumn Sonata. The audience has little idea of what will happen. The story starts out peaceful but gains momentum slowly and allows late revelations to be the detail that drives peak emotional scenes. Doing this forces Bergman to be more structural. Characters come together to both pain and clarity at precise moments. Bergman times the appropriateness of these things like he was writing music. Nothing in Autumn Sonata is ambitious, but everything is tuned to perfection.

The cinematic achievement is in the wonderful cinematography. Colors exude the rooms and perfectly cast the emotions in the scene. The best element of the cinematography is that it is purposeful but never becomes a distraction by looking too good. Everything is maintained well.

w/o horse

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #173 on: August 09, 2007, 11:40:26 PM »
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I saw Wild Strawberries at the New Beverly on Wednesday, a film worthy of the acclaim it receives. Seeing it with an audience made me realize how funny it is (the innocent misogyny and sexuality especially).

The grace of the film is in this sophisticated innocence, and tenderness, and the confrontation of these elements with forces of responsibility and age.  I always hear about great films that you find something new to appreciate each time you see it and that the greatest films you can age along with.  This film firmly qualifies for that criteria.

In that regard, the flashbacks, right now, strike me as maudlin and unnecessary.  Maybe some of the symbolism too, but I love symbolism so much and so rarely get to see it used well in film that I forgive it, and the symbolism in Wild Strawberries, along with the structure belongs more to literature than the theater.  Unapologetically vivid.

But the road trip portion of the movie is fun.  If Bergman became more serious, this is a light meditation on some of the processes of growing old and becoming callous and losing your humanity slowly.  A friendly look at socially significant issues, not too far away from the screwball comedies, and it wasn't that long ago that Bergman had done Smiles of a Summer Night.

I also saw Crisis before Wild Strawberries but if the latter is before the creation of Bergman's revolutionary idiom then Crisis the before the creation of Bergman as a filmmaker.  It owes heavily to the Hollywood and Italian melodramas of its time.

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #174 on: August 10, 2007, 03:48:52 PM »
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An argument over Ingmar Bergman is brewing between a few film critics.

Scenes From an Overrated Career
 
By JONATHAN ROSENBAUM


THE first Ingmar Bergman movie I ever saw was “The Magician,” at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in the spring of 1960, when I was 17. The only way I could watch the film this week after the Swedish director’s death was on a remaindered DVD I bought in Paris. Like many of his films, “The Magician” hasn’t been widely available here for ages.

Nearly all the obituaries I’ve read take for granted Mr. Bergman’s stature as one of the uncontestable major figures in cinema — for his serious themes (the loss of religious faith and the waning of relationships), for his expert direction of actors (many of whom, like Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, he introduced and made famous) and for the hard severity of his images. If you Google “Ingmar Bergman” and “great,” you get almost six million hits.

Sometimes, though, the best indication of an artist’s continuing vitality is simply what of his work remains visible and is still talked about. The hard fact is, Mr. Bergman isn’t being taught in film courses or debated by film buffs with the same intensity as Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard. His works are seen less often in retrospectives and on DVD than those of Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson — two master filmmakers widely scorned as boring and pretentious during Mr. Bergman’s heyday.

What Mr. Bergman had that those two masters lacked was the power to entertain — which often meant a reluctance to challenge conventional film-going habits, as Dreyer did when constructing his peculiar form of movie space and Bresson did when constructing his peculiar form of movie acting.

The same qualities that made Mr. Bergman’s films go down more easily than theirs — his fluid storytelling and deftness in handling actresses, comparable to the skills of a Hollywood professional like George Cukor — also make them feel less important today, because they have fewer secrets to impart. What we see is what we get, and what we hear, however well written or dramatic, are things we’re likely to have heard elsewhere.

So where did the outsized reputation of Mr. Bergman come from? At least part of his initial appeal in the ’50s seems tied to the sexiness of his actresses and the more relaxed attitudes about nudity in Sweden; discovering the handsome look of a Bergman film also clearly meant encountering the beauty of Maj-Britt Nilsson and Harriet Andersson. And for younger cinephiles like myself, watching Mr. Bergman’s films at the same time I was first encountering directors like Mr. Godard and Alain Resnais, it was tempting to regard him as a kindred spirit, the vanguard of a Swedish New Wave.

It was a seductive error, but an error nevertheless. The stylistic departures I saw in Mr. Bergman’s ’50s and ’60s features — the silent-movie pastiche in “Sawdust and Tinsel,” the punitive use of magic against a doctor-villain in “The Magician,” the aggressive avant-garde prologue of “Persona” — were actually more functions of his skill and experience as a theater director than a desire or capacity to change the language of cinema in order to say something new. If the French New Wave addressed a new contemporary world, Mr. Bergman’s talent was mainly devoted to preserving and perpetuating an old one.

Curiously, theater is what claimed most of Mr. Bergman’s genius, but cinema is what claimed most of his reputation. He was drawn again and again to the 19th-century theater of Chekhov, Strindberg and Ibsen — these were his real roots — and based on the testimony of friends who saw some of his stage productions when they traveled to Brooklyn, there’s good reason to believe a comprehensive account of his prodigious theater work, his métier, is long overdue.

We remember the late Michelangelo Antonioni for his mysteriously vacant pockets of time, Andrei Tarkovsky for his elaborately choreographed long takes and Orson Welles for his canted angles and staccato editing. And we remember all three for their deep, multifaceted investments in the modern world — the same world Mr. Bergman seemed perpetually in retreat from.

Mr. Bergman simply used film (and later, video) to translate shadow-plays staged in his mind — relatively private psychodramas about his own relationships with his cast members, and metaphysical speculations that at best condensed the thoughts of a few philosophers rather than expanded them. Riddled with wounds inflicted by Mr. Bergman’s strict Lutheran upbringing and diverse spiritual doubts, these films are at times too self-absorbed to say much about the larger world, limiting the relevance that his champions often claim for them.

Above all, his movies aren’t so much filmic expressions as expressions on film. One of the most striking aspects of the use of digital video in “Saraband,” his last feature, is his seeming contempt for the medium apart from its usefulness as a simple recording device.

Yet what Mr. Bergman was interested in recording was pretty much the same tormented and tortured neurotic resentments, the same spite and even the same cruelty that can be traced back to his work of a half-century ago. Like John Ford, one of Mr. Bergman’s favorite directors — whose taste for silhouettes moving across horizons he shared — he would endlessly reshuffle his reliable troupe of players, his favorite sores and obsessions, like shards of glass in a kaleidoscope.

It’s strange to realize that his bitter and pinched emotions, once they were combined with excellent cinematography and superb acting, could become chic — and revered as emblems of higher purposes in cinema. But these emotions remain ugly ones, no matter how stylishly they might be served up.

Even stranger to me was the way he always resonated with New York audiences. The antiseptic, upscale look of Mr. Bergman’s interiors and his mainly blond, blue-eyed cast members became a brand to be adopted and emulated. (His artfully presented traumas became so respectable they could help to sell espresso in the lobby of the Fifth Avenue Cinema.) Mr. Bergman, famously, not only helped fuel the art-house aspirations of Woody Allen but Mr. Allen’s class aspirations as well — the dual yearnings ultimately becoming so intertwined that they seemed identical.

Despite all the compulsive superlatives offered up this week, Mr. Bergman’s star has faded, maybe because we’ve all grown up a little, as filmgoers and as socially aware adults. It doesn’t diminish his masterful use of extended close-ups or his distinctively theatrical, seemingly homemade cinema to suggest that movies can offer something more complex and challenging. And while Mr. Bergman’s films may have lost much of their pertinence, they will always remain landmarks in the history of taste.


then Roger Ebert's responce.

Defending Ingmar Bergman


by Roger Ebert


I have long known and admired the Chicago Reader’s film critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum, but his New York Times op-ed attack on Ingmar Bergman (“Scenes from an Overrated Career,” 8/4/07) is a bizarre departure from his usual sanity. It says more about Rosenbaum’s love of stylistic extremes than it does about Bergman and audiences. Who else but Rosenbaum could actually base an attack on the complaint that Bergman had what his favorites Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson lacked, “the power to entertain — which often meant a reluctance to challenge conventional film-going habits?" In what parallel universe is the power to entertain defined in that way?

I love Bresson and respect Dreyer but what does Rosenbaum mean by their challenges to conventional film-going? He continues: “…as Dreyer did when constructing his peculiar form of movie space and Bresson did when constructing his peculiar form of movie acting.” And what were those peculiar forms? Dreyer built an elaborate set for “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and never revealed it, using closeups of faces with expressionistic angles and shadows. Bresson would shoot the same take over and over, as many as 50 times, to drain his actors of all emotion; he referred to them, indeed, as “models.” I am impressed by the idea and conception of these peculiar forms, but I doubt if they are more or less “entertaining” than Bergman’s also stylized but less constricted use of sets and actors.

Rosenbaum writes, “Riddled with wounds inflicted by Mr. Bergman’s strict Lutheran upbringing and diverse spiritual doubts, these films are at times too self-absorbed to say much about the larger world, limiting the relevance that his champions often claim for them.” This statement is perfectly accurate about Dreyer if you substitute his name for Bergman’s, and perfectly accurate about Bresson, if you substitute the names and change “Lutheran” to “Catholic.” Indeed, Bresson has been called the most Catholic of filmmakers.

Rosenbaum says Bergman is less taught in schools today than Godard and Hitchcock. He carefully avoids saying Bergman is less taught than Dreyer or Bresson. I grant him Hitchcock. He uses Google counts in his argument, so out of curiosity I googled “film class on Ingmar Bergman” (1,400,000) and “film class on Jean-Luc Godard (310,000). He says Bergman is “less discussed,” so I googled web discussion groups and found that Bergman scored 59,000 and Godard 14,400. Of course these entries cover a multitude of kinds of content, but there you have them.

Curiously, Rosenbaum thinks it is a sign of Bergman’s decline that he is hard to find on DVD these days, because he had to purchase his copy of “The Magician” in Paris (“Like many of his films, 'The Magician' hasn’t been widely available here for ages.”). Not true. I had to order Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight” from Brazil, and his “Magnificent Ambersons” is unavailable in this country, but I find 66 DVDs of Bergman’s 50-some titles, including "The Magician," for sale on Amazon, although some of them are for zones other than ours (an all-zone DVD player now costs less than $70, something I learned from Rosenbaum before ordering mine). You can find DVDs of all Dreyer’s films from “Joan” onward (five), and 10 of the 13 Bressons.

The most recent of the four Bergmans that Rosenbaum even mentions is “Persona” (1966), except for “Saraband” (2005), his final film. The sin of that film was “his seeming contempt for the medium [digital video] apart from its usefulness as a simple recording device.” In other words, at 86, Bergman did not choose to experiment with digital but simply used it. Surely it is also of interest that the film reunited the same two actors, Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, who had already played a divorced couple in “Scenes from a Marriage” (1973), and now meet again many years later. As for Bergman’s openness to a newer medium, what about his embrace of the lower costs and greater flexibility of Super 16 more than 35 years ago? What about him proving with Sven Nykvist in “The Passion of Anna” that a conversation could be shot on 16mm by the light of a single candle?
I think Rosenbaum gives away the game when he says, Bergman’s “movies aren’t so much filmic expressions as expressions on film.” He means form itself is more important (and entertaining, I guess) than narrative, emotional content and performance. Not everyone would agree.

Rosenbaum complains of “the antiseptic, upscale look of Mr. Bergman’s interiors.” Would that include the interiors in “The Virgin Spring,” “The Seventh Seal,” “The Passion of Anna,” “The Silence,” “Wild Strawberries,” “Hour of the Wolf,” “Scenes from a Marriage” and indeed “The Magician” and “Persona?” (I would mention “Fanny and Alexander” and its horror-house Lutheran parsonage but Rosenbaum says he hasn’t seen the film voted #3 in the Sight & Sound poll of world directors and critics to determine the best films from 1975-2000.)

Finally, Rosenbaum laments how Bergman’s “mainly blond, blue-eyed cast members became a brand to be adopted and emulated.” Hello? Bergman worked in Sweden! Does he forgive Ousmane Sembene’s African exteriors and mainly black-haired, brown-eyed cast members? Or the way Ozu used all those Japanese?

Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and Bresson’s “Pickpocket” and “Au Hasard Balthazar” are reviewed in the Great Movies section, along with Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal,” “Persona,” “Cries and Whispers” and “Fanny and Alexander.”

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The argument very much reminds me of recent arguments on the board. Most of Rosenbaum says is too general to be revealing. Then a lot of what he says is just nonsense. Persona's opening does not remind of theater. It reminds me of challenging underground cinema techniques. Parker Tyler, in his masterful Underground Cinema: A Critical History, related that sequence back to its influence from underground films.

Nobody will say that technical innovation isn't important. They will just disagree in how important it is. I don't believe the style techniques of Hitchcock and others will be more important than the emotional content within a Bergman film. The emotions, ideas, and philosophies within a film are the most important.

w/o horse

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #175 on: August 11, 2007, 12:27:02 AM »
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No to derail the Bergman film conversations that I know are going to be on the way, but Ebert paddled Rosenbaum with his reply.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #176 on: August 11, 2007, 01:34:44 AM »
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No to derail the Bergman film conversations that I know are going to be on the way, but Ebert paddled Rosenbaum with his reply.

I doubt everyone will have the opinion of Rosenbaum specifically, but I do know others have the opinion that Bergman's cinema isn't as high and mighty as Rosenbaum says it is. They have that opinion because of personal beliefs to what is cinema. Rosenbaum just seems severe with his.

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #177 on: August 11, 2007, 10:38:40 PM »
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The Man Who Asked Hard Questions
By WOODY ALLEN; New York Times

I GOT the news in Oviedo, a lovely little town in the north of Spain where I am shooting a movie, that Bergman had died. A phone message from a mutual friend was relayed to me on the set. Bergman once told me he didn’t want to die on a sunny day, and not having been there, I can only hope he got the flat weather all directors thrive on.

I’ve said it before to people who have a romanticized view of the artist and hold creation sacred: In the end, your art doesn’t save you. No matter what sublime works you fabricate (and Bergman gave us a menu of amazing movie masterpieces) they don’t shield you from the fateful knocking at the door that interrupted the knight and his friends at the end of “The Seventh Seal.” And so, on a summer’s day in July, Bergman, the great cinematic poet of mortality, couldn’t prolong his own inevitable checkmate, and the finest filmmaker of my lifetime was gone.

I have joked about art being the intellectual’s Catholicism, that is, a wishful belief in an afterlife. Better than to live on in the hearts and minds of the public is to live on in one’s apartment, is how I put it. And certainly Bergman’s movies will live on and will be viewed at museums and on TV and sold on DVDs, but knowing him, this was meager compensation, and I am sure he would have been only too glad to barter each one of his films for an additional year of life. This would have given him roughly 60 more birthdays to go on making movies; a remarkable creative output. And there’s no doubt in my mind that’s how he would have used the extra time, doing the one thing he loved above all else, turning out films.

Bergman enjoyed the process. He cared little about the responses to his films. It pleased him when he was appreciated, but as he told me once, “If they don’t like a movie I made, it bothers me — for about 30 seconds.” He wasn’t interested in box office results, even though producers and distributors called him with the opening weekend figures, which went in one ear and out the other. He said, “By mid-week their wildly optimistic prognosticating would come down to nothing.” He enjoyed critical acclaim but didn’t for a second need it, and while he wanted the audience to enjoy his work, he didn’t always make his films easy on them.

Still, those that took some figuring out were well worth the effort. For example, when you grasp that both women in “The Silence” are really only two warring aspects of one woman, the otherwise enigmatic film opens up spellbindingly. Or if you are up on your Danish philosophy before you see “The Seventh Seal” or “The Magician,” it certainly helps, but so amazing were his gifts as a storyteller that he could hold an audience riveted and enthralled with difficult material. I’ve heard people walk out after certain films of his saying, “I didn’t get exactly what I just saw but I was gripped on the edge of my seat every frame.”

Bergman’s allegiance was to theatricality, and he was also a great stage director, but his movie work wasn’t just informed by theater; it drew on painting, music, literature and philosophy. His work probed the deepest concerns of humanity, often rendering these celluloid poems profound. Mortality, love, art, the silence of God, the difficulty of human relationships, the agony of religious doubt, failed marriage, the inability for people to communicate with one another.

And yet the man was a warm, amusing, joking character, insecure about his immense gifts, beguiled by the ladies. To meet him was not to suddenly enter the creative temple of a formidable, intimidating, dark and brooding genius who intoned complex insights with a Swedish accent about man’s dreadful fate in a bleak universe. It was more like this: “Woody, I have this silly dream where I show up on the set to make a film and I can’t figure out where to put the camera; the point is, I know I am pretty good at it and I have been doing it for years. You ever have those nervous dreams?” or “You think it will be interesting to make a movie where the camera never moves an inch and the actors just enter and exit frame? Or would people just laugh at me?”

What does one say on the phone to a genius? I didn’t think it was a good idea, but in his hands I guess it would have turned out to be something special. After all, the vocabulary he invented to probe the psychological depths of actors also would have sounded preposterous to those who learn filmmaking in the orthodox manner. In film school (I was thrown out of New York University quite rapidly when I was a film major there in the 1950s) the emphasis was always on movement. These are moving pictures, students were taught, and the camera should move. And the teachers were right. But Bergman would put the camera on Liv Ullmann’s face or Bibi Andersson’s face and leave it there and it wouldn’t budge and time passed and more time and an odd and wonderful thing unique to his brilliance would happen. One would get sucked into the character and one was not bored but thrilled.

Bergman, for all his quirks and philosophic and religious obsessions, was a born spinner of tales who couldn’t help being entertaining even when all on his mind was dramatizing the ideas of Nietzsche or Kierkegaard. I used to have long phone conversations with him. He would arrange them from the island he lived on. I never accepted his invitations to visit because the plane travel bothered me, and I didn’t relish flying on a small aircraft to some speck near Russia for what I envisioned as a lunch of yogurt. We always discussed movies, and of course I let him do most of the talking because I felt privileged hearing his thoughts and ideas. He screened movies for himself every day and never tired of watching them. All kinds, silents and talkies. To go to sleep he’d watch a tape of the kind of movie that didn’t make him think and would relax his anxiety, sometimes a James Bond film.

Like all great film stylists, such as Fellini, Antonioni and Buñuel, for example, Bergman has had his critics. But allowing for occasional lapses all these artists’ movies have resonated deeply with millions all over the world. Indeed, the people who know film best, the ones who make them — directors, writers, actors, cinematographers, editors — hold Berman’s work in perhaps the greatest awe.

Because I sang his praises so enthusiastically over the decades, when he died many newspapers and magazines called me for comments or interviews. As if I had anything of real value to add to the grim news besides once again simply extolling his greatness. How had he influenced me, they asked? He couldn’t have influenced me, I said, he was a genius and I am not a genius and genius cannot be learned or its magic passed on.

When Bergman emerged in the New York art houses as a great filmmaker, I was a young comedy writer and nightclub comic. Can one’s work be influenced by Groucho Marx and Ingmar Bergman? But I did manage to absorb one thing from him, a thing not dependent on genius or even talent but something that can actually be learned and developed. I am talking about what is often very loosely called a work ethic but is really plain discipline.

I learned from his example to try to turn out the best work I’m capable of at that given moment, never giving in to the foolish world of hits and flops or succumbing to playing the glitzy role of the film director, but making a movie and moving on to the next one. Bergman made about 60 films in his lifetime, I have made 38. At least if I can’t rise to his quality maybe I can approach his quantity.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #178 on: August 12, 2007, 12:25:08 AM »
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 :cry:
context, context, context.

Alexandro

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Re: Ingmar Bergman
« Reply #179 on: August 13, 2007, 01:26:35 PM »
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I think people that accuse Bergman of just making "filmed plays" should go more often to the theater and reevaluate their experiences. Bergman is a stage pro and he obviously has some of that approach in his films, but filmed plays???

My Bergman experience started when I was, I guess, 16 or 17 and rented Wild Strawberries. I was really young to "get it" but I had the disposition. After all, it was an Ingmar Bergman film and I've heard his name around. I was incredibly surprised. My most memorable Bergman reference at that point, was that Billy Crystal's wife in City Slickers 2 told him at the beginning of the movie that she didn't want people coming out of his birthday party as if they'd just seen a Bergman film. I guess I expected something very dense and depressing. But Wild Strawberry's is nothing like that. What surprised me, in fact, is how entertaining, straightforward and heartfelt it is. Because it has some heartbreaking moments that I just never expected. The dream sequence, is hands down the best dream rendering I've ever seen on film. Deeply disturbing, but the whole thing goes in so many different directions. It's funny, moving, sad, cruel.

A couple of years later a teacher lend me Persona and right there I was a little turned off. I guess I just wasn't in the mood or something. But it did something to me, cause for all the "slowness" and "density", I could never forget it, and a few years later when I watched it again, it just felt like a complete masterpiece. After that I just went and watched any Bergman I could find. And it became clear to me after a while this guy must be one of the three or four best film directors of all time. And it never occurred to me that his films were too theatrical at all. His images are so beautiful, the effect achieved is impossible if not on cinema. There's nothing that is not fully cinematic in the beginning of Persona, or the dream sequence in Wild Strawberries, the train ride in The Silence, or anything in Fanny & Alexander. And this is obvious, but long close ups on actor's faces are an exclusive asset of film. I had an acting teacher who was a stage director who always wanted to make at least one film. Her first comment after that was "If I could only make a close up on stage, or a zoom". People pushing the "filmed plays" argument are doing so because the lack of camera movement, which really has nothing to do with anything when you achieve the powerful moments Bergman did with his still shots on actor's faces.

I would claim Bergman is the best actor's director ever. I just can't think of someone else who so consistently got the performance level he got from all his actors. You just had a guarantee of terrific acting when watching a Bergman film. I would say he's also the greatest screenwriter. He could just have these long monologues that are a thrill to listen and see.

All these people coming out now, with this backlash about Bergman's art being "out of fashion", are complete douchebags, in my opinion, and are obviously not getting even the point of artistic expression. And very few Bergman films have been "depressing" to me. He's an skeptic, but I don't think he's a full pessimist. Claiming that life, love, relationships, are complicated matters is not being a pessimist. Thinking a film is depressing because it claims this is what's being pessimistic is.

 

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