ADDED: Let's look at the list of his films. Talk about the ones that meant something to you. I'll list the ones I remember seeing:
1. "Autumn Sonata." It's the subject of a wonderful discussion about art in (my favorite movie) "My Dinner With Andre." There's a line, something like: I could always live in my art, but never in my life. Ingrid Bergman says it to Liv Ullmann. Mother to daughter.
2. "Face to Face." Isn't this the movie in "Annie Hall" that Alvy Singer refuses to see because it's already started?
3. "The Magic Flute." Mozart! In Swedish.
4. "Scenes from a Marriage." I think of the scene with Liv Ullmann, playing a therapist, as she's listening to a patient describe her marriage. The patient talks about how the world has come to feel unreal to her. Perhaps she says it feels like paper, and we see a closeup of her hand trying to feel the edge of the table. Then we see a closeup of Liv Ullmann's eyes, with just enough terror showing.
5. "Cries and Whispers." Perhaps the best of them all. I think of the scene where they read "David Copperfield" to each other for some reason. And the broken glass and the blood.
6. "The Touch." Elliot Gould! In English!
7. "The Passion of Anna." I remember being bored. Sorry.
8. "Shame." Another one I saw and couldn't appreciate at the time. I should try again, I'm sure.
9. "Persona." This one is very sharp and simple. Great to rewatch.
10. "The Silence," "Winter Light, "Through a Glass Darkly." Hard to remember which is which now. These were the movies we saw in college and thought precisely exemplified what serious movies were.
11. "The Virgin Spring." Another one we saw in college days, but this one stood out as different.
12. "Wild Strawberries." This is the one they showed us in the dorm -- East Quad -- practically as soon as we arrived as freshmen in 1969. The message was: This is greatness in film. If you don't see why this is great, you have a problem you'd better fix!
13. "The Seventh Seal." Loved this at the time. Loved Woody Allen's spoofing of it in "Love and Death." Have it on DVD but only watched part of it. Let's watch this one tonight. It is about death.
14. "Smiles of a Summer Night." Beautiful, funny, and not that Bergman-y. Woody Allen has a beautiful tribute to it: "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy."
ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary:
“I was very much in love with my mother,” he told Alan Riding of The New York Times in a 1995 interview. “She was a very warm and a very cold woman. When she was warm, I tried to come close to her. But she could be very cold and rejecting.”Much more at the link, including how he suffered from the fear of death and what completely cured him of that fear.
The young Mr. Bergman accompanied his father on preaching rounds of small country churches near Stockholm.
“While father preached away in the pulpit and the congregation prayed, sang or listened,” he once recalled, “I devoted my interest to the church’s mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above the strangest vegetation of medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and walls. There was everything that one’s imagination could desire — angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans.”
His earliest memories, he once said, were of light and death:
“I remember how the sunlight hit the edge of my dish when I was eating spinach and, by moving the dish slightly from side to side, I was able to make different figures out of the light. I also remember sitting with my brother, in the backyard of my flat, aiming with slingshots at enormous black rats scurrying around. And I also remember being forced to sit in church, listening to a very boring sermon, but it was a very beautiful church, and I loved the music and the light streaming through the windows. I used to sit up in the loft beside the organ, and when there were funerals, I had this marvelous long-shot view of the proceedings, with the coffin and the black drapes, and then later at the graveyard, watching the coffin lowered into the ground. I was never frightened by these sights. I was fascinated.”...
“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!”
IN THE COMMENTS: My ex-husband Richard Lawrence Cohen writes:
Ann, after reading the NYT story my first impulse was to come here and find out your response, which is as perceptive and lively as I'd hoped. (I typoed "livly," which is a nice pun for the occasion!) My earliest Bergman experience was stumbling upon The Magician on WOR-TV in New York as a high school student. It was unlike any other movie I'd ever seen and it made me want to see every other movie like it -- movies that enchanted not only the senses and the emotions but the intellect and the aesthetic. Then Wild Strawberries during freshman orientation as you've noted: I thought I remembered that it was shown in the courtyard of the Quad, but maybe that was King Kong instead and maybe they showed Wild Strawberries in the little auditorium. Then several of his classics at Cinema Guild: among them, Smiles of a Summer Night thrilled me with its laughter-filled ideal of romance, and Virgin Spring with its sagalike bright medieval starkness. Just two weeks ago I rented Seventh Seal for my preteen kids because they were fascinated by the idea of playing chess with Death; they liked that scene well enough but it ended too soon for them and they kept asking, "When are they going to show more of the chess game?" before losing interest altogether. For me, the style of the movie felt a bit old-fashioned at this point but many scenes were still powerful, and I was especially taken with the character of the church artist who kept up a cheerful commentary while painting gruesome pictures influenced by the reality of the plague that was all around him.Yeah, that was an insane Sam Waterston performance. At least he had historically accurate crutches.
A corollary memory: seeing Liv Ullman as Nora in A Doll's House on Broadway in the 1970s, with Sam Waterston as Torvald, Sam on crutches after an accident but still pacing back and forth across the stage, unrealistically, so that he could hit his marks.
"Wild Strawberries" was shown indoors in a fairly small room, where we had to sit on the floor -- which was one of the reasons I didn't enjoy it as much as I was supposed to.
AND: Richard, if the boys like chess movies, here's a list of 1,715 of them.
AND: In today's vlog, I talk about why reading about Bergman's death made me cry.
MUCH LATER: Having collected my "post-of-the-month" for each of the months of 2007 and chosen this for July, I settle down a reread this post, then go back to the top and read the first sentence and break down and cry once again.