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Ingmar Bergman 1918 - 2007


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The BBC is reporting that Ingmar Bergman has died.

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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Oh. My. Goodness. This is major news.

Thanks for posting it. I hadn't heard.

I hope the attention causes people to watch his movies, which, according to some recent articles, have begun to be passed over in university film courses. That seems inconceivable to me, but time marches on.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I have only seen two of his films, embarassingly, as I am of Swedish decent and he's something of a Swedish icon; "our Shakespeare" if you will. The films are Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. I loved them both. I have a copy of Persona sitting on my DVD shelf waiting to be watched, and I think I may watch it finally in rememberance of him.

It seems to me that from what little I've seen and what I've read that he was profoundly concerned with questions of meaning; of life, death and love. I hope he has found some answers today and that he finds peace.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Links to our threads on the 'Faith Trilogy' (1961-1963), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973) and Fanny & Alexander (1983). If we have threads on any of Bergman's other films, they do not mention the word "bergman" itself.

Beyond specific films, links to our threads on 'Bergman fest' (Apr 2004 - Jun 2005), 'Good books about Ingmar Bergman ?' (Jul - Sep 2004), 'Ingmar Bergman Reveals Secret Daughter' (Oct 2004), 'Which Bergman Films for My Class?' (Oct 2004 - Aug 2006), 'Where should I start my Bergman-ucation?' (Apr - Aug 2005) and 'Liv Ullmann as a Director' (Aug 2005; a number of her films were written by Bergman).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I have wonderful memories watching and discussing Bergman in Scott Derrickson's European Cinema class.

I'm glad to have seen his last film, Saraband, in theaters.

Edited by Nathaniel

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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Sad news.

I recently purchased a large DVD box set of Bergman's films... embarassingly I haven't watched any yet. I think I will soon.

Sven Nykvist, cinematographer for some of Bergman's most memorable films, died last year... with nary a whimper of news that I recall. He should be remembered just as well as Bergman. Two geniuses in their respective fields... now gone. I'm very glad that they were both prolific.

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I recently purchased a large DVD box set of Bergman's films... embarassingly I haven't watched any yet. I think I will soon.

Is this the MGM box set that came out a couple of years ago? I've never seen any of those films, and keep hoping the library will acquire the titles. I'm most interested in Shame.

EDIT: Woops! I watched "Persona," on laserdisc, several years ago, and it's the undisputed masterpiece of the bunch. But I'd like to see the others, just to fill in the gap.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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theoddone33 wrote:

: Sven Nykvist, cinematographer for some of Bergman's most memorable films, died last year... with nary a whimper of news that I recall.

Link to the thread on the death of Nykvist.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Is this the MGM box set that came out a couple of years ago? I've never seen any of those films, and keep hoping the library will acquire the titles. I'm most interested in Shame.

I have that set, but the one I purchased recently is something to the effect of 30 films. I've only watched 3 from the MGM set... I did like Shame though. Both that film and The Passion of Anna are quite dark.

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The John Podhoretz NY Post article has been mentioned in other threads, but I'll link to Jeff Wells' and commenters' responses here.

As the A&Fer who most frequently links to Podhoretz's stuff, I'll just say that I agree with Wells' take on this particular piece, but as Wells himself posts in the comments, I find Podhoretz to be, if not an "excellent writer," a pretty darn good one. (Although he's no Stephen Hunter.)

Still, he infuriates me with his penchant for holding up classic Hollywood narrative as the ideal to which all other movies must aspire -- or be "called out" on for falling short of such lofty heights. I remember watching Podhoretz on CNN's "Crossfire," arguing with a "Premiere" editor about current films and whether they were comparable to earlier films (the "correct" answer is, always, "no," of course; Pat Buchanan says so). When the "Premiere" guy cited "Barton Fink" as an example of an excellent contemporary film, Podhoretz went nuclear on him: "WHAT is that film ABOUT?" he kept badgering. "WHAT is it ABOUT?" And when the editor couldn't come up with a quick soundbyte response, Podhoretz gloated. It was unseemly.

Today, though, I find his articles often bracing, even when I disagree. The Bergman piece may be a nadir, but he's had his share of well written reviews recently.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I was watching the news at 2:30ish AM CST when the passing of Ingmar Bergman flashed along the bottom of the screen. I was immediately saddened, not just because he makes my top 5 directors list but because his struggles were so real and his search for the answer to life's questions was so intense. I can confidently say that I have never been more moved by the internal human struggle for worth and value than through that of a Bergman film.

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

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Leaving for a few days vacation, I picked up the July Sight & Sound to read on the trip. Having just heard about the passing of Ingmar Bergman, I was shocked to turn to page 7, the "title page" of their "Rushes" section, and find a full page black and white photo of Bergman and "Death" sitting in a forest, carrying on a conversation. The text accompanying the image is titled "Dead calm" and begins

"Pictured above is Ingmar Bergman with the actor Bengt Ekerot as
Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Well, it would be eerier if Bergman hadn't talked about death so MUCH in his films and in his interviews etc. ... the statistical odds of someone talking about Bergman, and therefore talking about death, during the point in time when Bergman happened to die are actually pretty good, no?

BTW, I loved Victor Morton's eulogy.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Well, it would be eerier if Bergman hadn't talked about death so MUCH in his films and in his interviews etc. ... the statistical odds of someone talking about Bergman, and therefore talking about death, during the point in time when Bergman happened to die are actually pretty good, no?

Fair enough. The fact remains, though, that such a picture wasn't published in, say, the past two years. Any one of those 24 months having been equally likely for such an image.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Scenes From an Overrated Career

Wow. Just ... wow. Not the first thing I expected to see early on a Saturday morning.

Let's see how the online critics who ganged up on John Podhoretz handle a Bergman takedown by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Frankly, I'm bummed. I don't expect every reputable critic to bow at the altar (so to speak) of Bergman, but to see someone as knowledgeable about international cinema as Rosenbaum largely dismiss Bergman's work is ... well, it's more infuriating than sad.

I disagree profoundly.

I wonder what role religion has in all this. A just-hatched theory of mine: the existential critics out there who responded strongly to Bergman in the 1960s have grown tired of wrestling with faith. Having concluded what they've concluded, they no longer feel the power of Bergman's works. (BTW, I have no idea where Rosenbaum falls in terms of religious belief, but I do work on a presumption of lack of belief among most critics, fairly or unfairly). Whereas Christian viewers who might disagree with Bergman's apparent descent into atheism (me) appreciate seeing those struggles laid out on screen so artfully.

From Rosenbaum:

So where did the outsized reputation of Mr. Bergman come from? At least part of his initial appeal in the

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Whaddya know? Still going through this morning's NY Times, I find this essay on religion in the films of Bergman and Antonioni.

It is an interesting question why so many people serious about religion, believers in particular, feel such a loss at the death of Bergman. His view of religion was anything but benign. He recalled his ultimate loss of faith with great relief. His personal life was not a model. Nor did his films respect proprieties.

One explanation was captured in a phrase appearing in some obituaries and echoed in most. He took on the

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I've not been on the internet and I've been away from the boards.

Today I am sad.

Diane contacted me first, and then I came here. I followed Peter's link and read all the old threads.

Rosenbaum, this time, has pissed me off. I have loved him in the past, but wow, what a jerk.

I think this may have been my favorite director of real movies since Krystof Kiezlowski passed away.

The world is a harder place without Bergman struggling in it.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Roger Ebert doesn't agree with Rosenbaum's assessment, either. His response.

Blistering. And cathartic. Thanks for sharing that. Made my morning.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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The Moment I 'Got' Ingmar Bergman

The myth of Ingmar Bergman is that, with his stoic tales of anguish, cruelty, identity, and the silence of God, he was the film world's most celebrated anti-entertainer. His movies invited you to experience them as a kind of high-modernist X-ray; their very catharsis was in how they offset the joy and color and escapism of Hollywood. The reason that all of this actually made him popular, though, inventing a new appetite for a new kind of movie, is that Bergman staged his brooding visions with eroticism (just think of Harriet Andersson, the tawdry goddess of Monika), violence (the horrific rape and revenge in The Virgin Spring), and pageantry (those spectacular Seventh Seal medieval landscapes). With morbid theatrical flair, he made his anti-entertainments...entertainingly.

When it came to watching Bergman's films, I passed through various phases, and I have a feeling that I wasn't alone. Here, in fact, is what I think of as the Four Stages of Watching Bergman . . .

But something else, too, conspired to make Bergman pass

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Enough with the drawing of battle lines over Bergman.

If you like Bergman, you don't like Hou or Kiarostami or Bresson.

If you like Bergman, you don't like Hitchcock, Welles, Godard, Dreyer.

Enough. Please!

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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