• [The Daily] #Bergman100

    By David Hudson


    Ingmar Bergman was born on July 14, 1918, and exhibitions and film series celebrating the hundredth anniversary are already underway.

    Update, 1/5: Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, a Janus Films retrospective of twenty-four works, will open at New York’s Film Forum on February 7 and run through March 15.

    Update, 1/8: Following the run in New York, the retrospective will travel to the Seattle Art Museum, the Detroit Film Theatre, the Minneapolis Film Society, the Amherst Cinema, the Northwest Film Center in Portland, the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, AFI Silver in Maryland, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts and Rice Cinema in Houston, the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, and, in Los Angeles, the American Cinematheque, UCLA, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    The titles:

    Update, 1/9: Film Forum’s schedule is now up, and it features forty-seven films—forty of which are new restorations.

    “The ultimate auteur, he wrote and directed profoundly personal projects notable for their honesty in tackling the ‘big questions’ of everyday existence,” writes BFI programmer Geoff Andrew, introducing Ingmar Bergman: A definitive film season, currently running through March.

    In an essay for the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, where you can track #Bergman100 events and delve into the Bergman Cinematic Universe, Andrew argues that “Bergman’s enormous contribution to the arts—besides the many works he wrote and directed for the cinema and television, he consistently maintained a hugely successful and influential parallel career in the theater—is considerably more varied than any miserabilist caricature might suggest.”

    Throughout 2018, this entry will track related events, writing, and more. The Austrian Film Museum, for example, is staging a complete retrospective in Vienna from Friday through February 8:

    Already as a teenager, Bergman dove into the history of literature and began his studies in the field before turning to theater, which was to remain an important sphere of activity and the topic of his films (for example, in his 1975 version of The Magic Flute) all his life. . . .
    Bergman came to film in the mid-1940s. He began as a scriptwriter and quickly established himself as a director, becoming a leading figure in Swedish cinema. In the first phase of his work, he combined neorealist influences with youthful rebellion: His films often featured young (working-class) couples struggling with the ossified bourgeois adult world. The immensely physical love story Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika, 1953) was described by Jean-Luc Godard as “the most original film by the most original of filmmakers. It is to the cinema of today what Birth of a Nation was to the classical cinema.” Later on, in his own film debut, Godard quoted the incredible long take in which actress Harriet Andersson stares directly into the camera: A perfect example of Bergman’s modernist impulses as a mainspring for the continuous expansion of his aesthetic and thematic spectrum. Their expression ranges from the string of comedies that culminated in Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night, 1955), dark dramas such as the medieval miracle play The Seventh Seal, or the modern story of estrangement Tystnaden (The Silence, 1963).

    For the BFI, Alex Barrett considers the work of eight key players in Bergman’s company of actors: Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Erland Josephson, Gunnel Lindblom, Ingrid Thulin, and of course, Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. Barrett’s also put together a gallery of close-ups: “It’s often claimed that close-ups are televisual, and that the scale of the big screen calls for wider landscapes and more epic vistas. Bergman and his frequent cinematographers, Gunnar Fischer and Sven Nykvist, effortlessly debunk that idea.”

    In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw revisits Persona (1966). “This was last revived in British cinemas fourteen years ago, and I have in the past been agnostic about what I felt were contrivances and rather atypical attempts to engage with the Godardian spirit of the times. Revisited now, the movie actually more suggests the Roman Polanski of Knife in the Water and Repulsion. Yet more than that, it forces on the audience its own utter uniqueness. It is stark, spare, endlessly questioning and self-questioning, a movie whose enigmas and challenges multiply, like the heads of Hydra.”

    The exhibition Bergman à la mode, showcasing costumes for the women in his films, is on view at the Museum Hallwyl in Stockholm through March 18.

    The retrospective at the Centro sperimentale di cinematografia in Rome is on from January 18 through March 4.

    In Helsinki, the National Audiovisual Institute’s retrospective begins on January 21.

    There’ll be a focus on Bergman’s work at the Göteborg Film Festival, running from January 26 through February 5.

    Bergman 100: A Tribute to Liv Ullmann runs from February 1 through 24 at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

    From February 21 through April 14, London’s Old Vic presents Fanny & Alexander, an adaptation for the stage of Bergman’s 1982 semi-autobiographical work for television and cinemas by Stephen Beresford and Penelope Wilton.

    “When I was researching my book about Bergman I was startled by the ambivalence with which he was regarded by his fellow Swedes,” writes Geoffrey Macnab in the Financial Times. “Yet Jan Holmberg, chief executive of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, suggests there are aspects of the director’s work that the British appreciate more than the Swedes because they know how to laugh at it. ‘The irony in Ingmar Bergman, the humor in him is absolutely lost on Swedes. Even at his apparently most brooding and depressing, there is almost always a streak of black comedy in there which I think the British recognize and the Swedes don’t.’”

    Update, 1/4: In the Stranger, Charles Mudede previews Winter Light: The Films of Ingmar Bergman, the series opening on January 11 and running through March 8 at the Seattle Art Museum.

    Update, 1/5: “For four years I worked exclusively with his legacy, as archivist at the Ingmar Bergman Archives and then as Bergman festival coordinator at the Swedish Institute,” writes Fredrik Gustafsson. Bergman’s connection to Hasse Ekman “is the big gap in the extensive writing of Bergman; almost all aspects of Bergman's life and work has been covered and discussed in excruciating detail, except the Ekman connection. My own writing, including my book and a few articles, has tried to close this gap but there is more to be done.”

    Update, 1/6: Jane Magnusson’s Bergman: A Year in a Life, currently in post-production and aiming for a premiere at Cannes, will “examine the sexual relationships in which the Swedish film director engaged with almost all of his actresses, and detail his shortcomings as a husband and father,” reports Richard Orange for the Guardian. In 2013, Magnusson made another documentary, Trespassing Bergman, “which saw renowned film-makers such as Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen appraise Bergman’s work. A Year in a Life aims to look at the man behind the films and to direct an unflinching gaze at a national hero.”

    Update, 1/7: Little White LiesDavid Jenkins on Persona: “Though most people will have their favorite Bergman, this one must surely be considered his crowning achievement. It’s a film which earns its status as an enigma by creating a compelling shell around the mad, hidden core. Surreal experimentation which suppresses easy answers is rarely this entertaining, and the language of cinema has seldom been used in such outlandish manner before or since.”

    Update, 1/8: Little White Lies has posted a really lovely dispatch from Fårö, the island where Bergman lived for forty years, by Adam Woodward. “Moving through the house, it’s impossible not to notice patterns on the walls, floors and furniture. The immaculately furnished house is covered in infantile graffiti, hand-scrawled memos that range from playful to indecipherable—the words ‘Warning: Slippery as Hell’ mark the bathroom floor, while a bedside dresser doubles as a spontaneous journal of Bergman’s nightmares. Amid the frantically scribbled ink stains there is one constant, a cartoon devil motif that became the director’s signature—a lasting symbol of his tormented genius.”

    Update, 1/14: “Not included in the BFI season is the director’s little-seen spy thriller, This Can’t Happen Here, from 1950,” notes Gerard Corvin for Little White Lies. “Its omission is unsurprising considering Bergman actively sabotaged its release by withdrawing it from circulation. Long thought lost, a version has been known to intermittently wash-up on that shoreline of forgotten cinema, YouTube. He was miserable and ill at the time of filming. He only made it, he later recalled, because he had two ex-wives and five children to support. Yet the effort Bergman went to to destroy the film suggests something deeper than professional embarrassment.”

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.


  • By David Hollingsworth
    January 03, 2018
    11:26 PM

    This should be a pretty big year for us film lovers. Bergman is life!
  • By Bergmaniac
    January 04, 2018
    02:32 AM

    I'm hoping The Criterion Collection has big things planned for those of us that greatly admire and appreciate Ingmar Bergman's art. He has given the world such incredible gifts. This is the year to celebrate and pay tribute to Ingmar's genius.