Ingmar Bergman, one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers ever, died yesterday. I haven’t seen a lot of Bergman films, and those I have tend to strand me between a sense that I may be watching something incredible and my realization that I’m not understanding half of it. Reading around the film blogosphere a little this morning, though, is increasing my desire to try to become better acquainted with Bergman.
I think Persona was the first film of his I saw, and the only thing I remember was how fascinating it was when the two women, isolated on an island, started merging or even exchanging personalities almost, and how much I liked the way he juxtaposed their faces onto each other to depict that merging visually. Those shots have been imitated to the point of cliche now, but then I hadn’t seen them before. My favorite Bergman film right now is probably the lighthearted romantic romp Smiles of a Summer Night, largely, I think, because it remains one of his more accessible ones. ;) I recently saw the second part of his “Faith” trilogy, Winter Light (I gave my reaction to the first of the trilogy, Through a Glass Darkly, here), and was suitably impressed by it, especially as compared to Bresson‘s Diary of a Country Priest, which I should have liked but didn’t. I have also seen The Seventh Seal, probably Bergman’s most famous film (featuring a chess game between a medieval knight and Death), but need a rewatch on it, because I don’t remember much except liking the visuals and being sort of bored by the slow, philosophic pacing (hey, I was young).
The Guardian has links to several Bergman clips, and the New York Times has reprinted part of a review/essay on Bergman by Woody Allen, who was very influenced by him as a filmmaker. (I watched a bit of Manhattan the other day, and it wasn’t ten minutes before Allen and Keaton were arguing over whether Bergman was the greatest of all filmmakers or overrated.)