RIP Ingmar Bergman, 14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007

ingmarbergmanI’ve been putting off a Bergman-fest but looks like this is the year. (Accompanied, of course, by French & Saunders’ hilarious Bergman spoof, available on YouTube)
Film and stage director Ingmar Bergman died today in Faro, Sweden, at age 89.

>> “Bergman, who approached difficult subjects such as plague and madness with inventive technique and carefully honed writing, became one of the towering figures of serious filmmaking.”

>> “He was ‘probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera,’ Woody Allen said in a 70th birthday tribute in 1988.”

>> “He mapped out the geography of the human psyche in terms of pain and torment, desire and religion, evil and love. In 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 in 1983. God is either silent or malevolent; men and women are creatures and prisoners of their desires.”

>> “‘Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics – religion, death, existentialism – to the screen,’ Bertrand Tavernier, the French film director, once said.”

>> “Confused by their doubts and desires, sometimes entirely driven by their passions, Mr. Bergman’s female characters usually stood on the brink of mental collapse. Meanwhile, his men were often hapless bystanders, incapable of understanding their own lives, much less those of anyone around them.”

Bergman on Bergman:

“I don’t watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry … and miserable.”

Pivotal films include:

  • Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende; 1955), romantic comedy (yes, really!) that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music.

  • The iconic The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet; 1957), an allegorical tale of the medieval Black Plague years

  • Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället; 1957)

  • The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan; 1960)

  • A trilogy: Through A Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel; 1961), Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna; 1962) and The Silence (Tystnaden; 1963). These are my favourite of Bergman’s films, along with Wild Strawberries.

  • Another trilogy: Persona (1966), the first Bergman movie I ever saw, in 1979; Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen; 1968); and Shame (Skammen; 1968).

  • Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop; 1972), female-focused psychodrama.

  • Scenes from a Marriage (Scener ur ett äktenskap; 1973), on TV. Bergman himself was married 5 times and had 9 children.

  • The Magic Flute (Trollflöjten; 1975)

  • Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten; 1978)

  • Fanny and Alexander (1982)

  • Saraband (2003), on TV, an update and continuation of Scenes from a Marriage

Watch his ‘greatest scenes’ via BBC at YouTube.
Obits from the AP, BBC (and here, WaPo, NYT, The Local (Sweden’s News in English) Also see IMDB entry and Wikipedia entry

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