July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman, 1918-2007

Ingmar Bergman, one of the true pillars of cinema, passed away today at his home on the Swedish island of Faro. He was 89 years old. There is an extensive obituary over at the New York Times. Although Bergman certainly lived a long and full life, this is still extremely saddening news. One of the true giants, a pillar of the cinema, has left us, and I believe I am safe in proclaiming that there will never be another filmmaker quite like Ingmar Bergman. One glimpse at the Swedish auteur's filmography is enough to confirm both that statement and his indisputable genius. Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring, Cries and Whispers, Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, and my personal favorite, the metaphysical, enigmatic Persona, the list goes on and on. In his work, he combined an intense intellectual, formalist rigor with a passionate, probing religiosity (though he denounced religion in his own life). In the hands of a lesser talent, such a combination could have easily resulted in works dramatically stale and overwrought. In the hands of Bergman, the cinematic landscape was forever altered. Bergman will be missed dearly, but thankfully, he has left behind a tremendous body of work that can continue to be explored and discovered.

"Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."*
-Ingmar Bergman

*as quoted in "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" by John Berger, Sight and Sound (June 1991)

Obituary @ The Washington Post
The Radical Intimacy Of Bergman (Senses Of Cinema)
An Analysis of Selected Film Works (Strictly Film School)

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