Ingmar Bergman: Final Thoughts - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
19Apr/110

Ingmar Bergman: Final Thoughts

Andrew COMMENTARYIngmar Bergman had a style that college students loved to imitate but, for some reason, has had very little affect on the majority of public consciousness where film is concerned.  Yeah, classes are going to be taught about his films for many years, but it disappoints me that people are willing to give more credence to Black Swan or Inception than the genuinely challenging Persona or Cries and Whispers.

Bergman did not create films just so that his audience would have a puzzle to solve.  He went into film when something out of his control drove him to the art form because it was the only way that he could express himself.  Moreso than any other art-form, film can show the personality and mental state of a person in perpetual flux or crisis.  The nature of motion, the idea that we should always be changing in order to adapt to our environment, is something that Bergman toyed with many times throughout his career.

It also offered him sweet catharsis.  This was a man who was a perpetual wreck, and it's no wonder that he felt himself in a state of flux all of the time because of his horrible childhood and rough relationships with women throughout his entire life.  But looking at Bergman on the set of his films, and being able to see that man in action in the behind-the-scenes footage of Winter Light and Fanny and Alexander is to look at a man that was at total peace when he could direct.

This is one last look at his films.  Bergman the director did more with film than Orson Welles could have ever dreamed, and was a far more tortured auteur all the same.  Bergman the writer gifted us with some of the most honest and naked expressions of doubt, rage and lust.  Look at the list of people that he worked with; Liv Ullman, Max von Sydow, Erland Josephson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bibi Andersson, and possibly the best cinematographer to ever grace film - Sven Nykvist.  Bergman attracted top talent, and then put their skills to use in films that explored the art form and what it means to live with all these emotions.

Starting next week I'll be looking at the films of Atom Egoyan, a Canadian director who's examination of desire in the face of growing technological connections is fascinating and psychologically brilliant.  But for now, a final thought about each of the Bergman films I had the pleasure of watching these last few months.

Torment: Bergman's themes are present from his first film on and someone is always trying to crush or pervert love.

Crisis: Even the best have their embarrassing moments, and Bergman should have learned to stay far away from jazz.

Port of Call: Subtlety has it's place in cinema, but sometimes having a pretty girl write "lonely" on a mirror is just poignant enough to buck that necessity.

Thirst: Sex is never simple in a Bergman film, but at least here we see some desire not tainted with hate.

To Joy: Bergman understood that images, much like music, are not as well mediated by our minds and can cut straight to the emotion of the right moments.

Sawdust and Tinsel: The first film where Bergman's true love, the human face, comes into full bloom.

Smiles of a Summer Night: Never is someone more lonely than when they feel cold in the arms of someone they love, but how wonderful it is to see the reverse take shape.

The Seventh Seal: Faith can drive people to the most terrifying behaviors but also inspire the most love.

Wild Strawberries: Just because we die alone doesn't mean it always has to feel that way.

The Magician: Faith and fact are not so dissimilar from one another, acting shows how it's all part of the same illusion.

The Virgin Spring: Innocence is the first to be corrupted.

Through A Glass Darkly: The love that comes closest to godliness is selfless, the most that the rest of us can muster is a pale imitation of sacrifice.

Winter Light: Even the most doubt-filled among us find something to hold onto.

The Silence: Sex is one of the most potent weapon we have and we learn that at a very early age.

Persona: You are never who you want to be and you are always what you can't stand.

Hour of the Wolf: Storytellers have a responsibility to their audience.

Shame: Why wound physically when you can humiliate someone for their entire life?

All These Women: Ya know, some directors just aren't cut out for straight-ahead comedies.

 

The Rite: Performers have a responsibility to their audience as well.

The Passion of Anna: A pretty philosophy can't hide cruelty.

The Serpent's Egg: We will justify our behavior by any means necessary.

Cries and Whispers: Blood binds us all, but sometimes reminds us just how far apart we are.

Scenes From A Marriage: Love doesn't always take the form we want it to.

The Magic Flute: One side of the story isn't always enough, especially when you're being followed by a bear.

Autumn Sonata: Liv Ullman is the greatest actress in film, and selfless love can sometimes be the worst.

Fanny and Alexander: Faith can help you overcome the worst of times, even if you have to pretend  to believe.

The Making of Fanny and Alexander: True artists tap into a side of themselves that is beyond their control when they are enraptured with their art.

Saraband: Love who you can, while you can, when you can, and try not to lose sight of that love along the way.

If you'd like to check out my commentary on each of these movies, just click the banner below and you can pick and choose to your hearts desire.

Until next week, thank you for joining me on my tour of Bergman's psyche.

The Films of Ingmar Bergman

 

Posted by Andrew

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