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Ang Lee on Ingmar Bergman

From an interview with Ang Lee in the Northwest Asia Weekly:

NWAW: Two years ago, you recorded an introduction for the Criterion Collection DVD of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, a film that had a tremendous impact on you as a student in Taiwan. Does Bergman continue to be an influence? Is there a trace of him in Lust, Caution?

Lee: During preproduction, I was told there would be a delay in the art direction, so I got a chance to go to his island to see the man himself. This was a spiritual pilgrimage, to give me the strength to finish this movie. Lust, Caution is more film noir than Bergman. It doesn’t ask where God is. It’s a much more Buddhist, existential deconstruct.

In the time we had together, he mostly asked how I worked with actors. And I said to him, "Sometimes I hate myself because I tear them apart to see myself. I tear them [he pantomimes ripping something in half], kill them to expose what’s underneath—that’s how I feel about my relationship with actors."

Bergman said, “You have to love your actors.” He was a very warm, lovely person. Because of The Virgin Spring, it felt like thirty-some years ago the man took my innocence. And then years later, he gave me a very motherly hug. It’s a strange, miraculous, magic power. I never think the way I make movies has any relation to his; he’s like God to me. I will take inspiration. I won’t dare to imitate. But a hug is a hug, filmmaker to filmmaker.

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