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Found 17 results

  1. Alan's thread in the Movies in Ministry section about Bergman's films reminded me that I wanted to post a thread on Bergman's The Silence. Since it's considered the third and final film of his "Faith Trilogy," I'll leave the thread open to include discussion of the other two, Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light. Please note: This thread will include . After watching The Silence I read a handful of reviews but I found none that even mentioned my interpretation of the film. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong, maybe everyone else missed what I saw or maybe I just didn't read the right reviews. In any case, I found this film to be the best movie I've ever seen dealing with the frustration of having to live our lives in the apparent silence of God. Most of the reviews I read dealt with the interaction between the two sisters and the son, and they all made interesting points about those relationships. However, I found no mention of the palpable namesake of the film -- the silence of God. Throughout the film, the three main characters interact with metaphorical images of our perception of God -- and in all these instances, He is silent. First, the boy runs into a repairman who fixes a light in silence. Then we meet the old man who works at (runs?) the hotel. While he is not silent, he speaks a different language and any sort of communication is severly limited. There are the dwarves, chaotic and random and who speak gibberish. There is the man who is the lover, who is physical but silent. There is the tank that rolls through the streets. It is vengeful, menacing and, of course, silent. While the interaction between the two sisters can be seen as two sides of the same coin -- or the same person (the side that feels opposed to the side that reasons) -- and even the child then as a symbol of the "inner child," I think these characters also demonstrate how we try to interact not only with each other, but with God. The sister who winds up with the lover wants a physical manifestation of God's presence. However, even in the midst of passion, she is left in silence. The other dying sister is content to interact with a God she cannot quite understand or comprhend, but she recognizes the beauty of his creation (such as when her and the old man share the joy of listening to the music) and is content to see God working in the mundane, small instances in life. The child sees God in all these forms, all of them silent, and all of them, I think, inacurate human perceptions of God. I think the film actually ends with a bit of hope. The child reads the bit of paper given to him by the dying sister -- he will continue his search to find, to hear God...
  2. A&F Bergman links: The Virgin Spring(1960); Faith Trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence) (1961-1963); Persona (1966); Cries and Whispers (1972); Scenes from a Marriage (1973); Fanny & Alexander (1983). Peter mentions an abundance of other Bergman related threads Here. The link on our Top 100 page can be changed to this now that I’ve started a thread on the actual film. Wild Strawberries currently sits at #35 on our Top 100, and while it’s not my favorite Bergman, I'd hate to see it go, as Bergman is so influential in the kind of spirituality I gravitate toward -- I feel like bending the rules if we start enforcing our "three-per-director" idea in the next vote. I know that won't happen. I'm just sayin'. But I had a very strong reaction to it this time through. It's probably been close to ten years since I last saw it -- that's a guess, without looking in the film journals. I think this is the third time I’ve seen it, and it is definitely the first time the film really moved me. I’m getting old. This is the perfect example of a film that's going to grow with you as you age, because in many aspects the film is about aging. An elder doctor on his way to a ceremony in his honor travels by car with his daughter-in-law who kindly tells him why he’s despised as a cold, calloused old stickler. They meet two sets of travelers which, each, in different ways, compliment the initial conversation the two started earlier. The old man has quite a few moments where he falls into dream-like states, either reflecting on his youth and mistakes made years ago or, in actual dreaming, being judged by his peers now for advancing so far in the community to the neglect of those closest to him. Several of these stages of dream consciousness are unnerving, they are cruel taunts of his guilt and accusation. He seems to understand that even now, all is not lost. That he can do something about the guilt. That he can find redemption from those in his dream who would accuse him of growing old and calloused. The idea that maybe, just maybe, someone can actually change when they see how wrong they are, no matter the age, no matter how far they’ve gone astray, is one small aspect you can admire in the story. I’m sure there are more, but that’s the one that really stands out to me now. Wild Strawberries hasn’t really grabbed me before the way it did this time. I wonder if it is because I’m at such a different stage of life. I’m 40, hoping I’m in the process of reconciling a marriage, I’m reflecting on a life of the highest of highs and, seriously, the lowest of lows. (If ever there were a person that could make that claim, it is me -- and Tiger Woods, although his low$ are way higher than mine.) I’ve looked at the past two decades in total amazement. They are like looking at two entirely different lives. It makes me excited for the decade that’s ahead, and those that I hope will follow. Thinking of all of this makes me want to grow wiser, better, more in relation with those around me. I think Wild Strawberries plays right into this kind of thinking. I also saw it just days after my Teaching Pastor gave an unbelievably “cool! Relevant!” – actually, challenging – sermon on aging. He turned 40 last week, and took the entire service to talk about how he feels God has given a right way for us to grow better as we grow older. It was a motivating teaching using scripture and many great examples that I’ll not soon forget. I may soon blog about all of this, but I’m solo with the kids this week, I’m moving next week and may not be posting as much for a few weeks. (It took me three days of saving in WORD to get this posted today.) We’ll see what kind of time I can get. Any other fans of Wild Strawberries? Has the film actually touched you the way it this time did me? Since I’ve seen it before and not received the “warm fuzzies,” I can see either reaction to it. Bergman, ever the auteur, is all over this thing. But I guess more about that later.
  3. Links to Bergman's "Faith Trilogy" (not including The Seventh Seal) - Where should I start my Bergman-ucation? - Bergman fest - Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007 Well ... nothing like finally getting around to one of the most famous Top 100 list films that I haven't seen yet, finishing it, and excitedly going to find the discussion thread that hopefully has been going on since at least 2003 and finding and remembering that there isn't one. No thread - zilch, nada, nothing. Well, alright, not nothing, looks like we have a bunch of disorganized comments and thoughts scattered throughout a whole number of threads. Here's my attempt to gathering them together in at least one place for starters. So I ended up doing this instead of writing down my thoughts - I'll get to those a little later. And looks like no one ever answered Matt. SDG's review is worth reading. Heh heh. This was the first chink in the armor of my Dispensationalist upbringing. As the introduction unfolded, it occurred to me that if they thought they were in the Apocolypse during the Black Plague, what did that say for all of the hoopla about Last Days going on outside the lecture hall where I saw this film for the first time? It was 1975. The world had survived two previous years in which no one thought that the Middle East would survive the year. I don't know that the end of that film had much to do with Christianity in the bibical sense. Bergman wasn't really a believer. To me, it meant that even the agent of Death doesn't know the answer to what is beyond the grave. All he can do is lead them to the gate, which is where they were dancing off to in the end. They will have to find out for themselves. The issue would have been completed sometime in early June, I expect. Eerie.
  4. I just only noticed the existence of this. It looks like great fun, but it doesn't look like there is any easy way to see it yet. VIMOOZ: “... In the mid 1960s Swedish director Ingmar Bergman built a house on the remote island of Fårö in the Baltic Sea. Throughout his life, the exact location of the house was a well-guarded secret. Here Bergman lived and shot some of his seminal films until his death in 2007. In Trespassing Bergman the audience is taken to the house together with directors such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke and others, to tell the story of Bergman, his island and some of his most central films. The documentary includes previously unseen footage from the making of Bergman’s films and interviews with directors and actors shot at Fårö, and around the world. Filmmakers such as Ang Lee, Isabella Rossellini, Harriet Andersson, Zhang Yimou, Woody Allen, Laura Dern, Francis Ford Coppola, Takeshi Kitano, Holly Hunter, Wes Anderson, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Lars von Trier and Ridley Scott offer a fresh and intimate perspective on the life and work of the Swedish master, what his films have meant for them personally and for the history of cinema. Some have been touched, others are in awe, and some are annoyed. Others project personal issues on Bergman and have fantasies about him. Altogether a portrait of the Swedish master that has not been attempted before.” THE PLAYLIST: “... To start with, a handful of these personalities (Landis, Denis, Inarritu, Haneke, Alfredson and Espinosa) are shown arriving at and then exploring Bergman’s secluded, securely monitored home on Faro (the other interviews are all recorded elsewhere). Their reactions seesaw between the holy, as though they’re touching a piece of the one true cross, and the irreverent, the humorous, the personal—viz Daniel Espinosa’s joyful and amazed discovery, not just of “Die Hard” in amongst Bergman’s massive VHS collection (he watched 1–3 films a day for the majority of his life), but that it’s a rental tape that Bergman never returned. It’s that balance that the film walks so well, building to a really affectionate, lively portrait of an elusive man and his work, which is somehow the stronger for Bergman’s own absence: it’s as if shining the individual beams of these various opinions and impressions gives us a more detailed, more affecting picture than if he were really there. ... overall the film is a cinephiliac blast, a giddy mix of anecdote and appreciation that will, we warn you, have the side effect of making it burningly important that you rewatch every single Bergman film pronto. And perhaps there’s no better praise we can lavish, because for all the Swedish Master is regularly held up as the greatest filmmaker of all time, his reputation can feel formidable, and the work itself, especially for a neophyte, can seem put away behind glass; museum pieces, to be admired but not handled, not tussled with, not touched. But in “Trespassing Bergman” we are reminded of how he got his peerless reputation: by creating living, breathing films that have the timeless power to engage on an intensely personal level, and it is many of our favorite filmmakers, genre and arthouse, doing the reminding. In fact, we were wrong earlier, “Trespassing Bergman” doesn’t merely deal in affection for Bergman, it’s about love, that peculiarly pure and inspirational love that can exist between a master and his students. Perfectly encapsulated in a final candid snapshot of Ang Lee fervently, joyfully embracing Bergman on an earlier visit to Fårö, “Trespassing Bergman” makes us realize that the man himself may be gone, but his legacy is vitally alive: in every one of these filmmakers and thousands more, and in that irresistible current of intense connection that exists only between the heart of the viewer, and the mind of a genius.”
  5. I could swear remembering a thread on this film, but now I can't find it. (A&F links to Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Magician (1958), The Virgin Spring (1960), Bergman's "Faith Trilogy", Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Fanny and Alexander (1982), Where should I start my Bergman-ucation?, Which Bergman Films for My Class?, Bergman fest and Good books about Ingmar Bergman?) Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life In Film, 1994, pgs. 28-29: Roger Ebert, December 11, 1968: "... Bergman requires a creative act of imagination from his audience, the same sort of suspension of disbelief that Disney asks the kids to make for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." But the adults in the audience I observed didn't seem up to the effort. They snickered and whispered and made boors of themselves. For his theme, Bergman has borrowed from the materials of Gothic legend. His hero is an artist (Max von Sydow), alienated from society, who lives on an island with his pregnant wife (Liv Ullmann). On the other side of the island there is a castle inhabited by a baron and a menagerie of perverted friends. At night, the artist is haunted by insomnia, paranoia and strange dreams. A great deal of the action takes place halfway between midnight and dawn -- the hour, Scott Fitzgerald said, which is the dark night of the soul. In a brief note, Bergman calls this the "Hour of the Wolf," and explains: "It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is deepest, when nightmares are more real. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. The Hour of the Wolf is also the hour when most children are born." ... But if we allow the images to slip past the gates of logic and enter the deeper levels of our mind, and if we accept Bergman's horror story instead of questioning it, "Hour of the Wolf" works magnificently. So delicate is the wire it walks, however, that the least hostility from the audience can push it across into melodrama. But it isn't that. If you go to see it, see it on Bergman's terms." Derek Adams, Time Out London, February 9, 2006: "A brilliant Gothic fantasy about an artist who has disappeared, leaving only a diary; and through that diary we move into flashback to observe a classic case history of the Bergman hero haunted by darkness, demons and the creatures of his imagination until he is destroyed by them. The tentacular growth of this obsession is handled with typical virtuosity in a dazzling flow of surrealism, expressionism and full-blooded Gothic horror. First the hour of the wolf, the sleepless nights of watching and waiting, when the artist (von Sydow) describes - but we do not see - the horde of man-eating birdmen and insects who have invaded his sketch-book. Then the daylight encounters when a car crawling over the horizon, a girl picking her way through the rocks on a sun-bleached beach, look momentarily like weird, threatening insects. Finally, the full nightmare of the soirée at a château gradually transformed into Dracula's castle as its aristocratic inhabitants become werewolves and vampires, and the artist flees into a forest of blackened, clutching trees, pursued by monstrous birds of prey. In its exploration of the nature of creativity, haunted by the problem of whether the artist possesses or is possessed by his demons, Hour of the Wolf serves as a remarkable companion-piece to Persona." Douglas Messerli, World Cinema Review, June 22, 2013: "Directly after his experimental, highly artificed, and self-conscious masterpiece of 1966, Persona, director Ingmar Bergman, with greater self-confidence, determined to further explore the mental angst of his characters, many of whom had previously been forced to suffer what has been described as a “night journey,” a series of psychological tests that can exorcise their inner demons or end, as in in the case of Johan Borg (Max von Sydow), in insanity and death. Except this time round, Bergman, clearly no longer felt limited to the kind of psychological realism of works such as The Wild Strawberries or even the allegorical pantomime of a film such as The Seventh Seal, but felt confident enough to link his work to Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits (1965), while referencing the early monster films such as Tod Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein. The work’s structure and some of its tropes, moreover, draw on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, an opera that would continue to fascinate Bergman throughout his life, leading eventually to a 1974 filming of the work. With such a broad range of influences, it is no surprise that many critics have described the various symbols and images of Hour of the Wolf as simply failing to “coalesce into a coherent pattern” (Dennis DeNitto in World Film Directors). Yet, I argue, it is this very rich overlay of associations and structures from film and opera history that transforms Hour in the Wolf much like Persona, from a work of psychological realism into metaphoric depiction of what it is like to gradually go insane as a being falls into ever-deepening fears and doubts. The story of this film hardly matters: with his wife, Alma (Liv Ullmann), Borg (Max van Sydow) arrives at the small island of Baltrum (Bergman’s favorite location to play our psychological crises) where the artist seeks rest. But even more than previously, Borg is approached, like Tanino in Mozart’s fable, by strange and inexplicable beings ..." I just acquired a copy of this and I will see it later this week.
  6. Sundered

    Persona (1966)

    I like starting threads. I think this might be Bergman's most cynical film which is quite a feat. I didn't remember it being quite so negative the first time I saw it but now I think his central thesis is that love doesn't exist and what we call love is just an excuse to destroy each other and revel in hatred. He even goes so far as to corrupt the maternal love, and the images of the boy in that beginning make that vision heartbreakingly clear whereas they just confused me the first time. I'm not positive whether the two characters are intended to be one person, lovers, or all of humanity; but I believe any of the ways gives the same message. Since they are so often seen as being the same person, we are invited to join their psyche and we become conspirators against ourselves or all of humanity. The only tiny bit that might be hope is as Bibi Andersson is looking into the mirror in the end and she sees Liv caressing her. It seems nostalgic but frightening at the same time so it's difficult to tell what we are supposed to feel about that scene. So I'm not even sure if I like the film anymore...I admire the artistry of course. Bergman is a genius and this is possibly his finest hour. But even if it does ultimately speak truth about humanity (and I'm not even sure about this...maybe it could be seen as more of a warning), the lack of any redemption chilled me that time around. Does anyone have a more positive interpretation? Oh, and sorry, I usually type as I think so I don't always make the best of sense.
  7. (A&F links to Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Magician (1958), The Virgin Spring (1960), Bergman's "Faith Trilogy", Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Fanny and Alexander (1982), Where should I start my Bergman-ucation?, Which Bergman Films for My Class?, Bergman fest and Good books about Ingmar Bergman?) It is impressive how much better the films that are critically considered to be Bergman’s lesser works are when compared to most of the most of the top box office hits today. But then, of course, apparently Sawdust and Tinsel was one of Bergman’s financial failures. I am very glad that he made it. It contains a humanism that mixes equal parts despair and joviality, and it is a pleasure to see. Watching this film made me think for the very first time that circuses may have their origins in religious carnivals and passion plays. I like how Bergman makes the moral lives of his main characters a part of the show - in a way they are baring themselves to the crowd in ways in which the crowd may not realize what is and what isn’t for show. And then, of course, there are then parts of the circus life that have become reality for the performers, with all the flair, bravado, restlessness and humiliation that comes with it. Most of the reviews I read after seeing this are all discussing how much it foreshadows what Bergman will do in his later films, but I’m interested in the worth of this film for its own sake. Åke Grönberg makes a really good Albert because his physicality makes him appear much tougher than he actually is. The character is a walking contradiction, because he is weak, indecisive and occasionally cowardly, and yet he acts stronger (even if it is only putting on an act) than just about everyone else around him - so much so, that they all regularly look to him for leadership, even when he’s at his very worst. Harriet Andersson’s Anne is delightful. I like how Andersson never seems to play roles where she is just a pretty face. Every film I’ve seen her in, she adds complex multiple layers to her characters, and here Anne is yearning for security and faithfulness in her relationship with Albert, willing to go to dangerous extremes to get such things even if it means leaving Albert, and then also gradually aware that she may be doomed in the same way the rest of the circus troupe is. Other actresses could only do one of these things at a time. Andersson does all three simultaneously and makes it look like it requires no effort at all. And then, Anders Ek as Frost is quite something. You wouldn’t expect it after his bizarre opening scene, but Ek does a quite of acting here - a couple of the most important scenes in the film surprisingly lean on him, and he holds up under the pressure. The way that he talks makes you think there is something possibly wrong with him physically. It’s at least distinctive enough to make him into a social outcast. But then, in spite of the fact that he’s a clown, in spite of the film’s opening humiliation of him, and in spite of a possible speech impediment, Bergman has the moral sense enough to make Frost both human and important. Frost may just repeat some of what Albert says back to him, but there are some moments when he shows compassion and friendliness, and I think they’re some of the film’s most powerful moments. Ed Howard, Only the Cinema: "... The film's story is told in a blend of expressionism and neorealism, with the latter pointing back to Bergman's earliest dramas and the former pointing ahead to the direction his films would take from then on. The expressionistic sequences are often compelling, displaying the kind of visual sense and eye for composition within cinematic space that detractors like Rosenbaum are continually insisting is missing from Bergman's cinema. In the film's most compelling image, when Anne goes to visit the local theater troupe after a fight with Albert, she's left on the abandoned stage after a rehearsal. As the theater goes dark, she's framed within a circle of light, all alone in a sea of black. Critics often point to Bergman's theatrical fascination as an inherent negative — something you'd never hear about, say, Fassbinder — but this scene makes it clear that even early on Bergman understood the difference between cinematic and theatrical space, and was able to combine them in interesting ways. In this sequence he creates an interplay between the theater and the cinema, framing Andersson first in what might be called theatrical space, with the camera at a distance showing the whole stage with her in its center (though even here he tweaks the theater by placing the camera backstage rather than in an audience's position). Then he cuts to a medium shot, with Andersson approaching the camera, slowly filling the frame, the close-up allowing her cold and determined expression to complicate the scene's emotions, in a sense contradicting the lost, confused sense communicated by the earlier distancing long shot. Both emotional sensations remain in the shot; just as the theatrical space is being contained and reshaped by the cinematic frame, the loneliness and isolation of the long shot is being subsumed by Anne's determination to control her life ..." John Simon's Criterion essay: "... Fine as the Swedish filmmaker’s earlier outings were, here, in his thirteenth film, Bergman gazed deeper than ever into the human soul, depicting it with greater artistry. The sparring spouses in his 1949 film Thirst have their Strindbergian fascination, but the empathy in Sawdust and Tinsel is more profound, the suffering more shattering, the Pyrrhic victories (such as the film’s ending) more moving. Stylistically, one of the ways Bergman achieved this was by using a greater number of close-ups of the human face, which would continue to fascinate the filmmaker above all else throughout his career. But it isn’t a matter of introducing mere talking heads; rather, Bergman explores all that a constantly changing countenance can reveal or conceal along the extensive scale between openness and deception. In contrast to the theater director, who views the actor, first and last, as a living presence, the film director sees the actor primarily as an image—in a sense, then, Sawdust and Tinsel, with its reliance on the purely photographic device of the close-up, was Bergman’s true emergence as a filmmaker. ... Albert has some acquaintance with Sjuberg, the womanizing head of the guesting theater troupe, and with the somewhat tartly overdressed Anne as bait, he comes to ask for a loan of costumes, many of the circus’s own having been pawned at the previous stop. The cynical Sjuberg, brilliantly played by the star to be and Bergman standby Gunnar Björnstrand, muses to the postulants that the costumes might come back vermin infested. When Albert asks why he has insulted them, Sjuberg launches into his great speech, which crystallizes the correspondence of human interaction and humiliation that Bergman would continue to define in his work: “Why? Because we belong to the same riffraff, the same wretched pack, and because you put up with my insults. You live in caravans; we stay in filthy hotels. We make art; you make artifice. The lowest of us would spit on the best of you. Why? You only risk your lives. We risk our pride. I think you look ridiculous and overdressed, and your little lady would look better without her finery. If you dared, you’d think us sillier, with our shabby elegance, our painted faces, our pretentious speech. So why shouldn’t I insult you?” This blend of sharp sarcasm, which cuts in both directions, is admirably multivalent and undeniably punishing. Only a consummate artist could have written, as an argument for superiority, the astoundingly paradoxical “You only risk your lives. We risk our pride.” Isn’t life more precious than vanity? Not to the supercilious artist, who would rather gamble with his life than risk losing the adulation of his public and his self-esteem. And yet this shrewd insight may cloak an error in judgment: life is more essential than art, and its sacrifice greater than that of pride. In the deepest sense, we have here the conflict between art and life. As Bergman certainly must have known, the theater actor is an artist whose vanity can be humbled by bad reviews and poor audience response. Life is what the circus artist gambles with. Which is more important? If the former, then art is superior; if the latter, then life. This conflict recurs, often symbolically, in such films as 1955’s Smiles of a Summer Night (loss of clothes and dignity versus potential loss of life in Russian roulette) and The Magician (the truth of the magician-artist versus that of the doctor-realist) ..."
  8. Links to the Faith Trilogy (1961-1963), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Autumn Sonata ('78) (a thread with very few posts, unfortunately, and one I wish I could contribute to because I know this film is touching, and it touched me, but I can't remember this one at all.), and Fanny & Alexander (1983). I hate starting off a thread with a negative review, but there is no thread, so we might as well start this one off. Those who know me well will probably just roll their eyes and say, "It's Stef. Of course he didn't like it." But I swear to you there are rom-coms out there that I enjoy. (An example.) Filmsweep Reaction: I have to admit I wasn't prepared for Smiles of a Summer Night, and I am not in agreement with the many favorable and positive reviews I find glowing around the 'net. But at any given moment if you were to ask me to make a list of my favorite directors, Ingmar Bergman would make my Top Five, or my Top Ten, every time, easily. Raised by a minister, he became agnostic as an adult, and every question between those two extremes is raised in the body of his work. Bergman's films have a certain fingerprint, a kind of atmosphere that only he creates -- there's always the search for God, for meaning, a reason to existence, but it isn't content with faceless or nameless spirituality. His films show, and then deny, that something is out there -- but whatever it is, if it is, it's just beyond our reach. His doubt, "adult" and logical in its nature, seems like an expression of a forlorn (and child-like) faith. The shadow of the Almighty creeps around every corner in his films, even as Bergman himself hides away and believes (pretends?) that it doesn't exist. His style typically displays this, somewhat somber in its tone. His style typically matches his questioning nature, the stories of the meanings of existence he loved to write and direct. It was a slow process for me to learn about Bergman, and why I so love his films. But over the years, the more I researched (and the more I continue to research by continuing to dig into his oeuvre), the more I am typically rewarded. I was recording in a studio in Birmingham, England in January of 1996 when I was first introduced (on laser disc!) to Fanny and Alexander('83). It was that film that, as a preacher's child, left a definite impression on me. The father in this film is a preacher, and he is a beast. Whereas my dad is no beast, but definitely a faith-filled man with an agenda, I understood some of the fear of the children in this film. Real and imagined concepts of ghosts and God constantly scare the children in this film -- but nothing frightens the kids more than the concept that God Himself, very much the same form as dad, could be the same juggernaut you fear. It took a few years, but I eventually made my way into the black and white snowy archives of older Bergman, beginning with perhaps his two most well-known, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries (both from 1957, the auteur's finest year). Later Bergman wrestled with the same spiritually significant themes in his Faith trilogy, which may have been the pinnacle of these deep-seated musings: Through a Glass Darkly ('61), which Bergman has said "conquers certainty"; Winter Light ('63), which he then describes as "penetrating certainty"; and The Silence ('63) ("God's silence -- the negative imprint."). All three mesmerized me, shaking the foundations of my structured belief, and yet opening up new ways to a larger and better faith in a more mysterious and silent God. (I wrote more about the Faith Trilogy beginning here.) Since then I have found repeated greatness in The Virgin Spring ('60),Persona ('66), Shame ('68), Cries & Whispers ('72), and Autumn Sonata ('78, and the one Bergman I saw and know that I loved, but don't remember it very well now). I love this man. I love his heart, and his search, and more than anything, I'm thankful for his prolific output, and the truthful heaviness of his films. But immediately noticeable about Smiles of a Summer Night is that it does not feel like a Bergman film at all. It feels like pre-Bergman Bergman, or a man who hasn't yet come into all the greatness I just described. It feels like it's 1955, before all the other films I just listed, and right at this moment Bergman hasn't yet found his voice. It also feels cheap, and all too easy. It feels like something that came out of Hollywood at the time, only spoken in Swedish, with frolicking orchestral music in the background and a flair for the easy laugh. Is it unfair to the film itself that I know a bit about Bergman from a timeafter this film was made? Could I have sat through this classifiable "romantic comedy" (i.e., "romcom") (i.e., yuuck!) had it been another director and I didn't approach the story with Bergman bias? Doubtful. Here's your story: He is married to her but likes the other gal instead, the other gallikes him back but has taken on a new lover, the new lover is married but won't let anyone fool around with his mistress, but the maid likeshim and his son and flirts with both and slaps the one but then shows him her boobs --- and so on, and so on, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad naseum, et al. Only the humor is so put-on it feels like you're wading through theatrical melodrama to get to it -- and even then, only for a slight philosophic chuckle -- and the production has a slicker feel, like Bergman knew he needed the cash, like he needed to make this one count at the box office. Indeed, some research around the web shows that this was his most outlandish production cost at the time of filming ($100,000), and that the film made money world-wide upon release (you can still find a glowing review from 1957 here), and that after Smiles of a Summer Night was made, so goes the rumor, Bergman never had to worry about the cost of a production again. This was his hit, and after this, the finances would simply be there. I'm sorry, but this has the stench of a mainstream sell-out. And yeah, they even had those in 1955. I know there are artists who have to do this sort of thing in order to create the kind of art they want to make. In fact I just wrote about Woody Allen, who in his film Crimes and Misdemeanors, plays an artist who needs to make a documentary on his successful brother-in-law (Alan Alda) in order to continue with the project of his dreams: a documentary on an Old Testament philosopher no one has heard of. Or -- you hear about the artists who work the jobs they hate in order to put food on the table and continue to chase after their own pursuits. The broke artist in the creative process, selling out to latch onto his dream, working the mill or the mine and running off to showcase stuff on weekends. It's a noble idea, and a worthy pursuit for many. It's something I struggled with from time to time as a musician. (Yes, I did play six weeks on tour with that certain country band in order to raise cash for a debut recording in my second European alterna-rock band.) But watching Smiles of a Summer Night simply feels, to me (a Bergman lover), like humiliation of the greatest kind. They say he had a great sense of humor, between periods of depression and great anxiety. Sadly, I guess there are polar extremes buried inside all of us. Smiles of a Summer Night might be a nice little Swedish 50s rom-com, if that's what you're in the mood for. If you're in the mood to see a film by Ingmar Bergman, I say this is no film by the Ingmar Bergman I know, and you should avoid this monstrosity at all costs.
  9. What's a good gateway film? Cries and Whispers Winter Light Persona Other?
  10. Picked up this Bergman film last night at the library. For some reason, I thought it was on our Top 100 list, but no. The copy on the back of the film makes it sound like some pretty fascinating spiritual exploration, but after spending some time today scanning some reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, I'm wondering if I'm ready for this film...or if I should make it a priority, seeing as how there are plenty of other films at home waiting to be watched. The terms "disturbing," "overwhelming," and "devastating" somehow seem to pop up over and over again in reviews, with some writers hinting that they just can't convey how much this film might rattle a viewer. Hmmm. And there's a description of a scene involving a piece of glass that make me feel a bit faint. Ugh. Has anyone here seen this? I searched, and it popped up in Russell's film journal from last year. Christian, you're a Bergman fan, right? Comments, anybody? IMDB page A couple of reviews: Ebert Berardinelli Sure thing that it won't be the feel-good film of the summer!
  11. I could not find a thread on this film despite some all around Bergman love. Anyhow, just posted a podcast over at The Thin Place podcast. You can listen in at the site itself or through Itunes: SHOW NOTES: 0:00 – Introduction and plot summary. 5:00 – True believers and true doubters. 12:50 – Step by step into darkness. 22:48 – On needing to be loved. 32:17 – Who are we? Masks and public performance. 40:51 – What is our delusion? 44:10 – Closing remarks and recommendations. Here's some commentary from Peter Cowie (spoilers) over at YouTube:
  12. The link on our Top 100 page can be changed to this now that we're beginning a thread on the actual film. A&F Bergman links: Faith Trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence) (1961-1963); Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Fanny & Alexander (1983). Peter mentions an abundance of other Bergman related threads Here. The Virgin Spring stars Max von Sydow, who seems to Bergman what Klaus Kinski is to Herzog, except that I never heard about a fist fight between the two or one shooting (or was it stabbing?) the other down in the Amazon; and Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, and Birgitta Pettersson, who were all at one point quite exclusively working with Bergman. N.W. Douglas posted a wonderful blurb Here in our Top 100, where he describes it as, "a simple story... [but] a stark meditation on vengeance, mercy, and faith." He warns that it's a "quiet film that slowly builds to an explosion of violence." I can't believe my fortunate timing lately with the Top 100 and my desire to catch up with it. My screening of Lourdes led me to The Song of Bernadette, which I loved. Cries and Whispers lead me to more Bergman (this). There are huge similarities between The Song of Bernadette and The Virgin Spring, but they feel like polar opposites of the same expression. In The Song of Bernadette the spring is proof of a miracle, a wonder for people to marvel at and find healing in; it is a place where God turns the ordinary into a beautiful, blessed event. In The Virgin Spring, which feels like it somehow must riff on that Lourdes story, the spring represents forgiveness, mercy, God's presence. But it also represents the presence of a God who is with you in your darkest, most hopeless hour. The spring itself is the miracle here -- there is no other miracle that's going to take place. In the DVDs introduction Ang Lee points out that when von Sydow's character prays at the end of the film, it isn't rendered the way you might often find such a prayer in film. The camera is above him, looking at his back, as he first bows by a stream, head hung in shame, and then stands up and confronts God face to face, looking away from us. It's a God's-Eye shot if there ever was one. It feels like, I'm Here. I'm With You. I'm listening. I am Here in the Pain. You might not even know exactly where I am in proximity to you, but I'm listening, I'm watching, I'm touching, I'm Here! The date on the film is interesting, too -- 1960, a year before the Silence Trilogy. The ending here feels nowhere near having God fall silent. And with other quotes I've found from Bergman that I've shared here before (some in the Silent Trilogy thread, I think), I do believe that this is a very misunderstood period in Bergman's life, one that we can read a whole lot into from our more hopeful -- spiritual -- end, but that more agnostic writers and lovers of film will read into in light of the context they desire. Honestly, after many of the quotes we've dug out, I still think he leaned more in our direction in this period. This is a film to ponder for quite some time, I think. There are messages here that one shouldn't fully understand in just one night, in just one sitting. I am looking forward to growing with it over time. For now I will say that I feel this is a rich work, worth probing as one probes the book of Job or Ecclesiastes. I do have a couple of questions -- I'll probably post again tomorrow when I've let it sink in a bit.
  13. Warning: This entire thread will contain . Like last time, we'll take the next day or so to post initial reactions to Fanny & Alexander, without responding to others' posts. We'll jump into the actual discussion shortly. OK, we're officially open for business. So, your thoughts?
  14. I want to see this, along with ever other Bergman ever made, this year, but I don't know which version would be the better choice. If Fanny and Alexander sets something of a Bergman standard, I would go with the longer version, which I believe is what Criterion is referring to as the TV version. Same thing for Scenes From a Marriage? Has anyone seen this, or does anyone have some insight as to which version should be in my queue? -s.
  15. Christian, this is for you baby: http://filmforum.com/films/ingmar.html
  16. I hope this is the right place to post this question - I'm wondering if anyone can recommend a few good books about Ingmar Bergman and his films. I'm almost through the MGM DVD set that came out a few months ago, and I'm primed to learn more about the director. But so much has been written, I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Thanks JiM T
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