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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Ingmar Bergman, with this woman who keeps cows and horses

On the occasion of Saraband, the Guardian’s Geoffrey Macnab surveys the generation after Ingmar Bergman to suss his lasting impact. Michael Winterbottom: “When I was 24 or 25, around the time of his 70th birthday, I made two documentaries about him… I watched all his films – which then numbered almost 50. I had written him a letter asking if we could make a documentary based on his book. When I met him, he said one of the reasons he had agreed to see me was that in Christmas in Sweden, there is a tradition of farcical comedy and one of the characters in it is called Mr Winterbottom. I was told you had to be extremely punctual – that that was an issue. So I was…” [He’s impressed by Bergman’s simplicity, too.] bergman_1.jpg Liv Ullmann on the man on the island: “When shooting on Saraband was over, Bergman said goodbye and went to his island. That was two years ago. He lives there absolutely completely alone… We made Scenes From a Marriage 30 years ago in a stable he had made into a studio. Now, he has made that into a cinema. He gets all the films sent there. He sits there with this woman who keeps cows and horses showing her films. Every new film. He knows everything that is being made.” Thomas Vinterberg : “Some of those close-ups of those beautiful Swedish actresses have just stayed with me. He created female characters you fell in love with instantly and exposed their burning inner life in a way I have not seen before or since… After I made Festen, I called him. He was very, very lively, speaking from his island. I was expecting to hear from a more bitter man. He said he would do no more work and now he would find the time to sit in a corner in his house and read some of those marvellous books he never got to read. He told me Festen was a masterpiece, which I was very happy about, but he talked about how silly and stupid Dogme was… I tried to explain why Dogme wasn’t silly, but I very quickly gave in. He wasn’t going to change his opinion, no matter what I said. I’ve only talked to him on one occasion. It was so uplifting. If I can feel like he does at that age, life isn’t that bad.” Alexander Payne : “I am woefully underexposed to Bergman.” James Schamus: “Look at Scenes From a Marriage and then look at Love Streams.” Also: Sally Potter, Terrence Davies, Stephen Wooley, and Olivier Assayas, who makes a modest case for Saraband as ” some otherworldly masterpiece.”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon