Ingmar Bergman, Director: 1918-2007

Ingmar BergmanAnother giant of foreign cinema is gone. Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman has died at age 89.

Between Kurosawa, Fellini and Bergman, the three ‘big ones’ who helped reintroduce American movie audiences to foreign film 1950s, I came to Bergman last. I discovered Kurosawa in high school, probably because so many of his films had an approachable action bent. I found Fellini later on as I grew up a little bit, but I’d always put off watching Bergman. I thought he would be cold, stark and depressing. In other words, I thought he’d be everything people don’t like about foreign films. I thought he’d be boring.

For years he was a nagging blind spot in my film education until one day when I finally sat down to have a look. It turned out his films could be stark but I wouldn’t say they were depressing; melancholy maybe. What’s more, they often had a humor and a warmth and a humanity that surprised me. More importantly, they weren’t boring at all. They were fascinating.

I wish my appreciation of him was less fragmentary so I could offer up a fitting obituary, but others have already done the man more justice than I ever could. The NY Times has a nice obituary of him here. Roger Ebert’s remembrance is even better and he’s also compiled the thoughts of other notables here.

If you’ve been putting off Bergman like I did, now is a good time to have a look for yourself.

Also, for those of you in Los Angeles, if the New Beverly remains open past Tuesday, they’ve got Wild Strawberries and Virgin Spring on calendar for 8/1 and 8/2.

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2 thoughts on “Ingmar Bergman, Director: 1918-2007

  1. Certain of Bergman’s films are still fairly imposing, like his ‘God’ trilogy, but his best films are the ones which are melancholy and warm at the same time, like Fanny and Alexander and Wild Strawberries. Unlike Antonioni, he was a theater guy, which meant that he still wanted to make films for an audience, in his own particular way.

  2. Bergman is certainly thematically and philosophically imposing, though structurally he goes down more smoothly than some of the people who got started in the 60s.

    I say that having a better knowledge of Bergman’s earlier stuff than his later however.

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