Pamela Moberg

Ingmar Bergman passed away, 89 years old

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Early this morning Ingmar Bergman passed away at his home at Fårö, a small island in the Baltic Sea where he had lived for the past years.

Last fall he had a hip operation and it is said that he never fully recovered.

He will be remembered by his many movies, theater productions and books. Without a doubt he was the greatest director of all times in Sweden. His last movie "Fanny and Alexander" is supposed to be autobiographical. In that film it was said that he tried to come to terms with the sufferings of his childhood and youth. He was born in 1918 in Uppsala, his father was a clergyman and also the official court preacher. The father was a stern Lutheran, very unforgiving and demanding and Bergman's severe upbringing left him with scars for life.

As time went by his films became more and more filled with anguish and despair and I must admit that I was not overly fond of them. But some of his theater productions were delightful, especially his opera production of "The Magic Flute" is my own favorite.

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He did a charming film of the Mozart Opera the Magic Flute... Zauberflot. It is available in Swedish with English subtitles.

He made a great contribution to the arts.

Thanks Mr Bergman, RIP.

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"Seventh Seal" was the first truly grownup film I saw and I still remember it, and its images, vividly. I loved many of his films, including some of the dark ones, like "Winter Light" and "Summer Interlude" (with "Swan Lake" as its subtext). His effect on film, and the filmmakers that followed (in Sweden or anywhere) was incalculable. I've missed his filmmaking (he stopped several years ago). I'll echo SandorO's "Thanks, Mr. Bergman. RIP."

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Early this morning Ingmar Bergman passed away at his home at Fårö, a small island in the Baltic Sea where he had lived for the past years.

Last fall he had a hip operation and it is said that he never fully recovered.

He will be remembered by his many movies, theater productions and books. Without a doubt he was the greatest director of all times in Sweden. His last movie "Fanny and Alexander" is supposed to be autobiographical. In that film it was said that he tried to come to terms with the sufferings of his childhood and youth. He was born in 1918 in Uppsala, his father was a clergyman and also the official court preacher. The father was a stern Lutheran, very unforgiving and demanding and Bergman's severe upbringing left him with scars for life.

As time went by his films became more and more filled with anguish and despair and I must admit that I was not overly fond of them. But some of his theater productions were delightful, especially his opera production of "The Magic Flute" is my own favorite.

Here's a link i read this morning

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6921960.stm?wp_ml=0

*sigh* but i suppose Death comes for us all at some time and at age 89... well that's not a bad life; i'm sure that there'll be a special tribute to him this year at the Oscars.

I loved WILD STRAWBERRIES, but the movie that stayed with me the most was FANNY AND ALEXANDER.

RIP

-goro-

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"Seventh Seal" was the first truly grownup film I saw and I still remember it, and its images, vividly.

Your comment about grownup film really strikes a chord with me -- his is one of the most fully formed and mature bodies of work I can think of in almost any art form.

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"Seventh Seal" was the first truly grownup film I saw and I still remember it, and its images, vividly. I loved many of his films, including some of the dark ones, like "Winter Light" and "Summer Interlude" (with "Swan Lake" as its subtext). His effect on film, and the filmmakers that followed (in Sweden or anywhere) was incalculable. I've missed his filmmaking (he stopped several years ago). I'll echo SandorO's "Thanks, Mr. Bergman. RIP."

Thanks for mentioning the 'Seventh Seal', Alexandra, as it is one of the few major Bergman films I've not seen, and I just put in a request for it. I've seen most of the films, from the lighter ones like 'Smiles of a Summer Night' to the dark ones, and they are all masterful, and can be quite cruel as well as moving. Certain films like 'The Virgin Spring' are so singular you can't think of a single other film to even compare them to. But I agree about 'Winter Light' and the other two films of that trilogy, 'Through a Glass Darkly' and 'Silence', which are all deeply moving. I see it looks as if I've missed 'Summer Interlude' too, so must look that up now. I also love that 'Zauberflote', and find it such a quirky thing to have done.

Edited to add: I just saw on his wiki entry that he himself did not consider 'The Silence' 'Through a Glass Darkly' and 'Winter Light' to be a trilogy, although somehow they came to be thought of as his 'trilogy of faith.' Also that 'Winter Light' was his favourite film.

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Broadcast obituary notices are so instantly recognizable by style and tone of voice that I think my “aww” escaped my lips this morning before the second syllable of Bergman left the radio speakers.

I’ve never cared for the phrase “death is a part of life,” but in regards to the man who was so taken up with death and the question of God’s existence, death seems like an appropriate final act, the time when either his questions are answered or his agonized questioning is stilled.

So my sadness is mixed with hope. May the writer and director of “The Seventh Seal” and “Cries and Whispers” enjoy for eternity the joy and peace he was denied on Earth, and may the man who gave us “Fanny and Alexander” enjoy an eternity of wonder and play.

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Thanks for your message, kfw.

My first Bergman film was at a classic film series when I was in college. (This was only a few years after the film's premiere, but it was already on the list of "classics.")

The film was "Wild Strawberries." I recall being astonished by how much identification I felt for the old professor, nearing the end of his life, who finds that the line separating past and present has become blurred. I've always thought that this story -- and the imagery from the film -- would make a stunning ballet in the "Lilac Garden" manner.

My favorite Bergman films -- "Wild Strawberries," "Virgin Spring," "Seveth Seal," "The Magician," "Fanny and Alexander" -- all deal with the importance of memory, the lack of boundaries between past and present, and the way that Death -- serene, implacable, inevitable -- is always present in the midst of life. Many are set in a mesmerizing version of the historical past. And then there's the way he nurtured such a fantastic company of actors: Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Harriet Andersson, and Liv Ulmann among them.

We continue to lose the greatest of 20th century artists. Bergman is fortunate to have been survived by his films. So are we.

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Thanks, Pamela, for posting, and to those who've commented so far.

One of the great artists of the last century has died. He made some films that were less than great, but even his failures are worth looking at. I was overcome by “Persona” and “The Seventh Seal,” (both obvious choices but what can I do).

From the Times obituary:

Once, when asked by the critic Andrew Sarris why he did what he did, Mr. Bergman told the story of the rebuilding of Chartres Cathedral in the Middle Ages by thousands of anonymous artisans.

“I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the plain,” he said. “I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn’t matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my name is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A dragon or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn’t matter!”

May the writer and director of “The Seventh Seal” and “Cries and Whispers” enjoy for eternity the joy and peace he was denied on Earth

Bergman had his doubts, troubles, and torments but he did manage to enjoy many of life’s joys and pleasures, sometimes at the expense of others.

I rented his last picture, Sarabande, on DVD and on the ‘making of the film’ extra segment he appeared to be the liveliest and most vital person on the set; I thought he was good for years.

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Bergman had his doubts, troubles, and torments but he did manage to enjoy many of life’s joys and pleasures, sometimes at the expense of others.

I rented his last picture, Sarabande, on DVD and on the ‘making of the film’ extra segment he appeared to be the liveliest and most vital person on the set; I thought he was good for years.

Oh that's good to hear! I'll have to rent that one.

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Smiles of a Summer Night (A Little Night Music was based on it) remains one of my favorites. Not "major" Bergman, but very, very fresh and touching with early performances by Bergman's stock players. Viewers familiar with Fanny and Alexander will recognize a similar scene in Smiles involving memories evoked by old photographs--making each the more poignant.

Also, Fanny and Alexander was the first time I ever heard Schumann's Piano Quartet (Op. 44, second movement, the one Mark Morris uses in V).

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The NY Times has an interesting piece today entitled Bergman, Antonioni and the Religiously Inclined:

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.

Also, Virginia Hefferman's Screen-Arts blog in the Times mentions a 1968 Bergman spoof called De Duva. It's available for viewing there, and for downloading for free elsewhere online. I didn't find it as amusing as I'd expected, but the mock Swedish alone is a hoot.

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It took me several minutes before I realized that the "De Duva" was not in Swedish :tiphat:

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Thanks, kfw. That film has perfect pitch. And I don't mean "dee pitcha blacka" into which Death plans to draw us all, "zoona or layta". :tiphat:

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Apologies for responding to my own post, but I should have added that De Duva, wickedly wonderful though it is, does not undermine the value of the film style it is parodying. Nor is it meant to do so..

Some artistic statements cannot survive parody. Anna Russell, et al., pretty much demolished the image of Brunhilde in horned helmet along with the entire traditional way in which Wagner's world was once imagined.

But then there are the artistic statements seem to coexist quite happily with their own parodies. The power of the parody seems actually to enhance, in such cases, the perceived value and effectiveness of the original work. Making fun of Bergman seems to fit into this second category.

"Lung leeva Bergman!"

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Clipping this bit from a post by papeetepatrick in another thread:

It's always driven out art, but art has also always been able to hold its own. I know what you mean, but I think I see it as a normal process--after all, we need not pretend the class system is not still alive and well. Now, we even have another NYTimes bone to pick since yesterday--tee hee, of course, not really, you were linking to an article about religiosity, I'm referring to the A.O. Scott article. I just looked at that Bergman/Antonioni article, and begin to think that it's some of the journalistic standards I find vulgar--as in 'Before Them, Films Were Just Movies', which is such hype and silly nonsense (in fact, it is vulgar in the extreme) I was unable to bring myself to read any further

I didn’t mind the Scott article as much as I did another piece that showed up in the Times, this one on the op-ed page, by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Absolutely insufferable. (Reminded me of the scene in ‘Manhattan’ where Diane Keaton and Michael Murphy are knocking Bergman, among other artists, and putting them in their ‘Academy of the Overrated.’)

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Absolutely insufferable. (Reminded me of the scene in ‘Manhattan’ where Diane Keaton and Michael Murphy are knocking Bergman, among other artists, and putting them in their ‘Academy of the Overrated.’)

Yes, it's pretty bad, especially decrying his 'power to entertain', which is something that never popped into my mind, and that is not associated with the great European filmmakers; but neither can I see it as anything but more abundance. I wouldn't think of the adjective 'entertaining' for Bergman quite as quickly as I would for, say, Luchino Visconti (I find 'the Damned' overwhelmingly entertaining), but that's actually the one thing I got from the article, although I'll be able to use it for better purpose IMO. The argument is not quite as cartoonlike as some I've recently read by the Brookings Institution, but it may be that he is allergic to Bergman the same way I am to Woody Allen. I don't doubt Allen's talent and ability to entertain, because many people obviously are. But I have never seen a single film of Woody Allen that I liked; something of the personality that I cannot keep from finding odious and insincere always comes through. And even though in the autobio 'the Magic Lantern', there is demonstrated something of the pinched cruelty in his meeting with Garbo--in which he literally revels, as if having discovered America or something, in letting us know that 'her mouth was ugly'--I still find many of the Bergman films moving and even beautiful. Even the cleverest Woody Allen films, such as 'the Purple Rose of Cairo' leave me cold and totally unmoved. So Allen's interest in Bergman is not an angle I am ever in touch with. I was ranting on after finally watching 'Annie Hall' recently, and someone said something 'Interiors' being such an attempt at the Bergmanesque. I said 'well, it doesn't show', although I was only saying that I couldn't stand that movie either.

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There's a short obituary -- with wonderful photo -- in this week's Economist.

http://www.economist.com/obituary/displays...tory_id=9581178

Critics wondered whether there was a general message in his films. Mr Bergman sometimes denied he had one. Yet he usually found a saving moment in the misery: a selfless communication, in word or gesture, between two human beings. At the end of “Wild Strawberries†the hero, an aged professor, is belatedly reconciled with his family and his past. As the scene was filmed, Mr Bergman noted, the old actor's face “shone with secretive light as if reflected from another realityâ€. That secretive light, or hidden love, was just what the director had been searching for.

Nice.

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Yes, it's pretty bad, especially decrying his 'power to entertain', which is something that never popped into my mind, and that is not associated with the great European filmmakers; but neither can I see it as anything but more abundance. I wouldn't think of the adjective 'entertaining' for Bergman quite as quickly as I would for, say, Luchino Visconti (I find 'the Damned' overwhelmingly entertaining), but that's actually the one thing I got from the article, although I'll be able to use it for better purpose IMO.

I don’t have any objection to calling Bergman entertaining, because to me he is; there is an element of entertainment (in the non-frivolous sense) in any successful film, and if it doesn’t entertain you then something is not working. I didn’t like Rosenbaum’s condescending tone and critics who toss around ‘entertaining’ as if it were an insult set my teeth on edge. (The reference to George Cukor got to me particularly – it’s not only meant to be condescending but it’s inaccurate – Cukor had many skills as a director but storytelling per se was not his long suit.)

And even though in the autobio 'the Magic Lantern', there is demonstrated something of the pinched cruelty in his meeting with Garbo--in which he literally revels, as if having discovered America or something, in letting us know that 'her mouth was ugly'--I still find many of the Bergman films moving and even beautiful.

Personally Bergman seems to have been - well, kind of a creep in many ways.

I have never seen a single film of Woody Allen that I liked; something of the personality that I cannot keep from finding odious and insincere always comes through.

I like him better than you do but I also know what you mean. “Interiors” is awful. I saw it again on cable recently with the intention of returning to it with a completely open mind, and it was just as bad as ever. (Opposing views welcome. :lol:)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum writes in the Times:

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.

An interest in the so-called big questions of whether or not God exists, and of how to live a good and contented life when in doubt of God's existence or convinced of God's' absence, is apparently "self" absorption in Rosenbaum's view. The "larger" world is not that of the posited creator but of what has heretofore been understood as creation, and in the modern world the questions humankind has always considered primary are less noteworthy than the task of changing the language of cinema to say something "new," a category of self-evident superiority to the old. Bergman's neuroses and resentments were particular and not common, unique and not universal, so that his popularity was a triumph of the chic, not a sign of moral seriousness.

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Good point, kfw. Maybe one's response -- or non-response -- to much of Bergman's work is connected to whether or not one can share his concerns and identify with the images he uses to convey them.

Given his concerns and values (not to mention his "look" and sense of pacing), it was probably wise of him to ignore suggestions that he go to Hollywood.

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The latest:

And

in fact, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has titled its new exhibition on the Oscar-winning director who has inspired and influenced such filmmakers as Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, "Ingmar Bergman: Truth and Lies." The show marks the first time since the director's death in 2007 at the age of 89 that the Ingmar Bergman Foundation at the Swedish Film Institute has allowed access to the filmmaker's personal material.

Oddly, during his lifetime, Bergman said in numerous interviews that he never kept any of his papers, scripts, photos or letters and didn't even care what happened to his films after his death. But in reality he had meticulously kept artifacts from his 60-year career in a room in his house on the island of Faro in the Baltic Sea.

Not odd at all, really.

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And very glad he did.

I'm glad I got to re-read this thread. "Interiors" was the first film I ever had to review (I was a sophomore) for the H.S. newspaper. My editor knew I'd already seen some of the usual Bergman films (I don't think anyone else in my class had), but I think I got the job of reviewer for the rest of my time in H.S. because everyone was shocked by my use of the words "pleonastic palaver" to describe Allen's version of a Bergman film. I like Bergman, but only tolerate Allen. The only things I liked about "Interiors" were the spare settings, ocean views, and of course: cinematography.

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Thanks for posting, 4mrdncr. I feel a little more warmly toward "Interiors" than I used to. Not that it's necessarily any better a movie, but I respect Allen's using his what was then recently acquired clout to make a genuinely risky film. The relationship between Geraldine Page and her three daughters is nicely done.

The father was a stern Lutheran, very unforgiving and demanding and Bergman's severe upbringing left him with scars for life.

Which Ingmar duly passed on, evidently. Of his (nine, I think) surviving children, fathered on numerous women whose marriages Bergman had often as not destroyed, three of them showed up for the funeral. (I was considering that while watching "Faithless" directed by Ullmann from a screenplay by Bergman. He was hard on himself, but not nearly enough.)

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Gunnar Fischer, RIP. He lived to be a ripe old 100.

“We came to an agreement quite early to never become each other’s ‘bowing servants,’ ” Mr. Fischer told The Washington Post in 2008. “We were never to praise each other or to give compliments about what we read in the newspaper. We were critical and could always speak our minds.”

The two drifted apart after making the 1960 film “The Devil’s Eye,” for reasons that have never been explained fully, although creative friction on that film and scheduling conflicts have been cited.

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