« Raoul Walsh heads for the hills | Main | A couple of thoughts on Michelangelo Antonioni »

July 30, 2007

Scenes from watching the films by Ingmar Bergman

ingmar bergman & liv ullman.jpeg

Reading about the death of Ingmar Bergman, watching other films, much less writing about them seems trivial. While I have been thinking about some of Bergman's films, especially Persona, I have also been reflecting on the act of seeing Bergman's films.

My introduction to his films came in the form of his screenplays. My mother handed a book she got from the library. I didn't spend much time reading any of the screenplays, but I could never forget the still of the knight playing chess with Death. I could have seen Hour of the Wolf during my senior year of high school, but was talked out of it by an adult whose judgement I trusted. In those days before home video, I didn't have the opportunity to see any of the older films by Bergman until I went to New York.

I spent a good chunk of my sophomore year at NYU going to an out of the way theater called the Elgin where they had a Bergman retrospective. I didn't see everything, but I did see many of the key films. What I do recall after over thirty years is that I found that some of Bergman's films were more entertaining than I was lead to believe, particularly The Magician. I also remember finding it rather funny to see Max Von Sydow, by then an established international star, in a bit part as a gas station attendant in Wild Strawberries.

During one summer vacation during my time at NYU, I went back to Denver. At the little two screen art theater run by one of the guys who later co-founded the Telluride Film Festival, I finally got around to see The Passion of Anna. Afterwards, I couldn't understand why I had put off seeing it in New York. On my way out, I encountered a young woman that I had vaguely known in high school. It was the first time we had seen each other since graduation. She was coming to see Bergman as I was on my way out. During that brief moment it was as if, unlike anyone else we both knew, we were able to share a secret language.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 30, 2007 12:33 PM


This is true, Bergman is a special director and I think he connects the people that so want film to become the art form that it should be and not a vehicle purely for entertainment and commerce.

Posted by: Ingmar Fan at February 18, 2008 11:54 AM