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Entries in Ingmar Bergman (18)

Friday
Jul132018

Bergman Centennial: In "Shame" Love is a Battlefield

Any passing visitor who’s toiled amongst the weeds of Ingmar Bergman’s vast garden of emotional entanglements will surely recognize the same familiar seeds of chaos, conflict, and spiritual carnage sown between the damned pistel and stamen of whichever variety of lovers feature into a particular film – but in Shame (1968), his scabbed and battered masterwork of wartime wreckage, the Swedish auteur lays fire to the roses. Incendiary combat between dueling psyches in intimate locations fuels much of his filmography – the mother-daughter melee of Autumn Sonata and frosty schoolhouse rejection in Winter Light immediately jump to mind – but Shame ignites a maximalist fuse within its scope that quite literally drops a bomb on the long-suffering couple at the broken heart of its story. By contrasting the domestic drama of Eva and Jan Rosenberg’s (Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow) decomposing marriage against a backdrop of military destruction and societal decay, Bergman turns the canvas of the soul inside out and externalizes the conflict of a toxic relationship into the very warzone that is exacerbating its decline.

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Friday
Jul132018

Bergman Centennial: Death and "The Seventh Seal"

by Chris Feil

The Seventh Seal begins with some of the most enigmatic and iconic imagery of Ingmar Bergman’s career. Which is saying something considering the auteur’s filmography is composed almost entirely of meditative frames. Here Max von Sydow's post-Crusades knight Antonious Block is visited by a black cloaked Death and the two take part in a literal and intellectual game of chess. It’s a grave way to start a film, one that still endures for its thematic impact and how it establishes the rest of its stark narrative as spiritually timeless.

Named for the passage in the Book of Revelation marking the final opening of the apocalyptic scrolls and the resulting period of silence in heaven, the film lives in that quiet Godlessness...

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Thursday
Jul122018

Bergman Centennial: Persona and the Problem of "Motherliness"

Team Experience will be celebrating one of the world's most acclaimed auteurs this week for the 100th anniversary of Ingmar Bergman's birth. Here's Lynn Lee

Persona has been called the Mount Everest of film critics, and no wonder.  For a film that clocks in at a lean 84 minutes and turns on a deceptively simple premise – a celebrated actress (Liv Ullmann) falls mysteriously silent and is consigned to the care of a chatty, insecure nurse (Bibi Andersson) – it contains multitudes.  In the 50-plus years since its debut, its potential meanings have been explored from almost every conceivable angle, be it existential, metaphysical, psychological, psychosexual, queer, feminist, the role of art and the artist, or just the film’s pure cinematic texture and experimental devices.  But Persona is a slippery beast: just when you think you have a theory as to what it’s “about,” it melts and reformulates into something else entirely.

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Wednesday
Jul112018

The Furniture: Theatrical Magic in "Fanny and Alexander"

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, our weekly series on Production Design returns for Season 3! Kicking off with an episode of our Ingmar Bergman Centennial Mini-Series.

There is so much to say about Fanny and Alexander. It has the visual density of The Age of Innocence, the spiritual ascent of Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Ingmar Bergman’s remarkable way with character. These elements gather together to form a benevolent and mystical dome, one which will define the young Alexander’s relationship to his family and his world. The film is built with a free sense of reality, leaping across time but lingering in resonant moments. Bergman casts the Ekdahl family as practitioners of a magical humanism, which which whisks the audience through these many hours as if in a dream.

Much of this atmosphere depends upon the film’s Oscar-winning production design. 

Its furniture magic takes center stage in the first act, late into the early morning hours of Christmas. Oscar Ekdahl (Allan Edwall), Fanny and Alexander’s father, spins a fantastical yarn about an otherwise unremarkable wooden chair. Its long history and hidden power, he says, make it the most valuable in the entire world. Between the flickering gas lights, the holiday atmosphere and the mood of childlike wonder, we are all taken in...

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Monday
Jul092018

Bergman Centennial: Winter Light (1963) and the echo of First Reformed (2018)

Team Experience will be celebrating one of the world's most acclaimed auteurs for the next week for the 100th anniversary of Ingmar Bergman's birth. Here's Sean Donovan...

Perhaps none of Ingmar Bergman’s films do more to conjure clichés of what a ‘Bergman film’ is than 1963’s Winter Light. While Persona is undoubtedly the cinephile consensus choice for his best film, and The Seventh Seal or Wild Strawberries are his most widely-seen, frequently adorning college syllabi about the history of European cinema, the morose sadness for which his work became known feels most exemplarily expressed in Winter Light. The second part of a trilogy about “the silence of God” (starting out grim already), Winter Light’s infinite quiet, stark black-and-white cinematography, freezing cold exteriors, and tear-soaked monologues scream BERGMAN in capital letters. It’s strange viewing with which to start a hot summer weekday morning, but here we are. Though the severity of film that threatens to overwhelm you, it is my personal favorite of the Bergman canon, superbly acted and filmed with a brisk lightness that befits an auteur frequently in danger of getting weighed down in heavy-handedness. A freezing shot of aquavit on the rocks can knock you over and have you questioning the purpose of your life. 

Winter Light may be reaching new audiences this year as it has received a renewed relevancy from Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, an unofficial remake blatantly taking the premise and applying it to the contemporary United States...

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Wednesday
Nov012017

LAFCA Honors Max von Sydow with Career Achievement Award

by Daniel Crooke

There’s something inherently epic about Max von Sydow’s body of work, a near seven-decade span marked by performances of quiet magnanimity in tales of biblical proportions, literally and thematically. More often than not, his mere presence – lanky yet lancing, wispy and towering, handsome and weary, often perturbed by the particulars of his environment  – conjures a lightning bolt of philosophical inquiry into each scene.

After exorcising (not to mention playing chess with, and later playing) the devil, portraying a host of priests, popes, cardinals, and apostles, directors and professors, living-breathing ciphers, and the occasional everyman, von Sydow will be awarded the Career Achievement prize this year from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association...

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