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David Poland

By David Poland

Bergman Dies

Antonius Block: I want knowledge! Not faith, not assumptions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand, uncover His face and speak to me.
Death: But He remains silent.
Antonius Block: I call out to Him in the darkness. But it’s as if no one was there.
Death: Perhaps there isn’t anyone.
Antonius Block: Then life is a preposterous horror. No man can live faced with Death, knowing everything’s nothingness.
Death: Most people think neither of death nor nothingness.
Antonius Block: But one day you stand at the edge of life and face darkness.
Death: That day.
Antonius Block: I understand what you mean.

For me, I will start with the Billie August directed The Best Intentions, which was Bergman’s pre-birth and then post-birth look at his parents, where they and then he came from… the beginning of his tale. Then we can jump right into Smiles of a Summer Night, his breakthrough here, now 52 years old… and on…

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21 Responses to “Bergman Dies”

  1. Noah says:

    Tonight a bunch of my friends are coming over and we’re going to watch Wild Strawberries, which seems like the most fitting film of his to view tonight.
    And to quote a line from Prairie Home Companion, “There is nothing tragic about the death of an old man.”

  2. bipedalist says:

    It’s true that there is nothing tragic about it, except that it shines a light on the absence of this magnificent and prolific a film giant. There probably won’t be many more Bergmans to come. To have that combination of talent, work ethic and wisdom about life is exceptional. To leave a body of work so diverse and interesting, to have delved so deeply…well, it just isn’t seen anymore. Filmmakers make a few good ones and then they’re written off. It’s depressing. Kubrick might have been a Bergman if he’d been around long enough. Woody Allen is close, though his work is so clouded by denial that it’s hard to watch. If he ever were to find his own truth he might be as good as Bergman. At least he makes the movies he wants to make and is making them as long as he is able.

  3. David Poland says:

    Anything that has the world remember Bergman’s work is a moment of celebration… so I raise a glass… and I hope that some who have never seen a Bergman film now find the time.

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    David: You are so right about Best Intentions, a movie that, I’m sad to say, many folks have forgotten about.

  5. Ian Sinclair says:

    I admire Bergman’s films but I prefer his earlier, funny ones.

  6. Wrecktum says:

    Ian Sinclair, are you the idiot who posted the same stupid and unfunny comment on the AICN messageboard?

  7. Ian Sinclair says:

    Good god, no. Only idiots read the AICN messageboard.

  8. David Poland says:

    Is it neccessary to insult others in here? Can’t you just say that you find the remark unfunny or in bad taste?

  9. swhitty says:

    I first saw Bergman’s films as a teenager on local public television, which ran many of the Janus Films releases — “M,” “Black Orpheus,” “The Seventh Seal” — on weekend nights. (One summer, as a change, they ran nothing but American silents, from Fairbanks to Murnau.)
    Now, whenever they do run a film, it’s generally an old Hollywood musical — which is fine, I suppose, but where are today’s budding film buffs ever going to see “The 400 Blows” or “Rashomon”? Or whoever the new Bergmans are, whether they come from Senegal or Romania?
    Bergman’s death is a loss to filmgoers (his last film, “Saraband,” was still terrific). But I worry that we’re also quickly losing the kind of world — with open-minded TV programmers, and arthouses, and college film societies — that once made it possible for artists like him to break through in America.

  10. Ian Sinclair says:

    That is sadly true. In Britain, especially on Channel 4 or the BBC they still carry seasons of movies by great directors: in fact, last time I was over I caught The Virgin Spring during a BBC Bergman festival. The only place that would be possible over here would be on TCM, which ran The Seventh Seal only weekend.

  11. Wrecktum says:

    Ian Sinclair, I find the remark unfunny and/or in bad taste. Some goes for the remark posted by that idiot over on AICN.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    At the risk of being accused once again of waxing nostalgic for the ’60s and ’70s — Shwitty, you’re right, the days when budding film buffs could get their first taste of Bergman or Truffaut or Kurosawa on their PBS stations are long gone. The killer irony: Thanks to DVDs, people have access to newly restored versions of classics that, not so long ago, were available only (if at all) in scratchy 16mm prints screened at museums and universities. Now you can rent or purchase just about any significant work by Fellini, Kurosawa, Truffaut, Bergman, whatever. Alas, as I’ve said before: You should never confuse availability with exposure.
    On a semi-related note: Has anyone else out there been pleasantly surprised to find what semi-obscure gems and unjustly negelcted masterworks are popping up on some of the newer pay-cable channels? Just this past week, I’ve been able to record Charlie Bubbles — which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been avaialbel on VHS, much less DVD, in this country — and Claude Lelouch’s “Les Miserables” off RetroPlex.

  13. bipedalist says:

    Well, I thought Ian Sinclair’s joke was very funny. But then Stardust Memories is one of my favorite films of all time. A Fellini rip-off (Homage? No, we stole it outright) though it was.
    It is hard to not think of Woody when you think of Bergman. Weird but true. (“God’s silence. Okay, we get it. I mean I loved it when I was at Radcliffe but you outgrow it, you absolutely outgrow it.”)

  14. Ian Sinclair says:

    I didn’t know that it was one of your favourite films of all time, BiP, but I knew you would know the movie and therefore you would get the joke.

  15. Wrecktum says:

    Oh, it’s from Stardust Memories? Nevermind then. Haven’t seen that one for 20 years.

  16. Sadly Bergman is one of many filmmakers I’m totally out of the loop on. I did DVR WILD STRAWBERRIES last month and will watch it tonight.
    I think Joe and Shwitty are right…if some channel like IFC would lean more towards “Z-Channel” type programming, I think people would come in droves. Especially if they had some kind of intellegent round table discussion about the film after it was over. I watch sports TV alot and there’s no less than 5 roundtable sports discussion shows. All we cinephiles get is frigging…Henry Rollins and that AMC thing that’s on at the butt-crack of dawn on Sundays.
    For all the griping and fears that film criticism is falling by the wayside, film critics are sure quick to hold onto the mast of the sinking ship rather than try something new.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    A good roundtable show would be a great idea – if the hosts could unpretentiously lead viewers into the movies, I think people might follow.

  18. One of my favourite Bergman films is one that I never hear about called Dreams (Kvindromm). I really need to move Bergman films right up to the top of my DVD queue.

  19. eoguy says:

    First Bergman, now Antonioni. What is going on?!?!

  20. Uwe Boll next, Uwe Boll next…

  21. Nicol D says:

    The beauty of Bergman’s work was that he was able to explore the most complex of ideas through the simplest of stories and images. Many Bergman films can be broken down into very simplistic plot descriptions, but the dialogue and subtext was everything.
    My favourite is The Virgin Spring, but even his misses such as The Serpent’s Egg could give you something to contemplate for days. I remember renting Cries and Whispers when I was very young based on a review from Roger Ebert. It was unlike anything I had seen and made me want more, even though I did not fully comprehend it in my early teens.
    Bergman’s gift was that he was genuinely inquisitive, genuinely thoughtful and genuinely made you think becuase he was a thinker.
    His films gave the impressions of dialogues. You could hear what he was saying but never feel he was preaching to you.
    Though he constantly worked, his key period from the late fifties to the early seventies is one of the most productive in film history with regards to output vs. quality.
    He raised the bar very high. May he rest in peace.

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