Ingmar Bergman

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MichiganJ
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

Post by MichiganJ »

charliechaplinfan wrote:Today i started watching Shame but had to stop it to go and fetch the kids, now I'm waiting for them to go to bed and I can resume my watching, so far, it's gripping
Ah, Shame. Artists, war, fear, dissolving marriage, disintegrating morality…
Good times.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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I can see why you would think Persona as influenced by the French New Wave and in particular Godard. I've struggled with Godard, I think for me Persona is as comfortable as I can get to some of what Godard and others were trying to achieve. I have to say now that my knowledge of New Wave is not brilliant, I like some and have really struggled with a couple of Godard but I recognise the themes (I hope you can follow me here, one day I might start a thread on New Wave and get an education from all of you)

I finished watching Shame and like with all Bergman films I have watched I found it complicated with many themes running through it and great performances from the two leads. Bergman doesn't just tell a simple tale of how war affects people, the couple are at odds from the start, Eva/Liv Ullman seeming much stronger than Jan/Max Von Sydow. They are musicians who have left their musical life behind after civil war broke out. Jan hides from the war, not fixing the radio so they don't know what is going on, Eva would rather be in touch. They have a brief moment of happiness, a shared bottle of wine and a moment of tenderness, a talk about children. Then hell breaks out, bombing, death, Jan and Eva survive and are viewed with suspicion by the stronger force. They are rounded up and Jan is tortured after Eva spoke to the enemies camera but her words were altered. They are let go but sheltered by a local commander who is viewed with suspicion by the partisans, he visits Eva and Jan often, he visits because of Eva, they haven't the courage to tell him not to come and Eva, being practical I think, she sleeps with the commander and is rewarded with a large amount of money. Jan finds the money and realising what she has done puts it in his pocket. The commander is picked up by the partisans and brought back to the house, he will be released if he gives them the money, Jan acts dums about it, his house is destroyed and he is given the gun to kill the commander, which he does. Eva and Jan have been broken so far apart but cannot break away from one another because of circumstance, Jan kills a young guy who is going to catch a fishing boat, he is desensitised to killing, they use the money to leave by fishing boat, for me the starkest image in the film is the boat trying to get through the dead sailors in the sea, the horror of all the boats occupants so great, the image one of the strongest put on film, as strong as anything Spielberg put into Saving Private Ryan.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

Post by charliechaplinfan »

MichiganJ wrote:
charliechaplinfan wrote:Today i started watching Shame but had to stop it to go and fetch the kids, now I'm waiting for them to go to bed and I can resume my watching, so far, it's gripping
Ah, Shame. Artists, war, fear, dissolving marriage, disintegrating morality…
Good times.
Good times indeed.

I've read and seen many things about war, particularly WWII, this is one of the bleakest and most personal look at war. Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman are in every scene, their journey and their marriage, the destruction of their home and their relationship. What have the left if they reach freedom? Eva might survive, I doubt about Jan, he is more sensitive, the one who misses their music, the artist. If Eva survives, what is she without the children she wants, without the man she loved? Gosh, this is the bleakest of Bergman's films. I wonder if Bergman is commenting about the difference between men and women, before I start I'm raising the white flag and I'm talking only about the most general characterisitcs. Bergman protrays Eva as more balanced, more able to carry on by not thinking too deeply about what is happening, is this because the woman is the nurturer, the mother, the soother. Whereas men are the ones who create wars. Are women programmed to carry on whatever life throws`at them. I'm not talking here about a woman's biological children but also about the feelings of care and love she has towards he fellow man, Eva is concerned for the young boy who threatens them with a gun, jan sees him only as a threat to his territory and his wife. Eva wants to mother the boy. This is only one theme is this complex film.

Eva's acceptance of a lover, I think she cared for him as a fellow human and perhaps got more appreciation from him than Jan gave her but I think part of it is a survival instinct, he will protect her whilst he has power.

Well this is nothing else is a woman's view and there's probably more to come.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

Post by kingrat »

PERSONA certainly calls forth interesting and provocative comments, doesn't it? Just as MichiganJ spoke up for THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY as being cinematic, I'll have to speak up for PERSONA. To choose only the most obvious example, the fusing of the two faces is one of the most famous images in all cinema, and virtually every director would like to have been the one to invent that. (Nicholas Roeg was content merely to copy it.) The photography and the composition of the shots (we all seem to admire these) are obviously important cinematic elements, and Liv Ullmann's performance is purely cinematic--it's almost all reaction shots. On the other hand, I do agree with ChiO's sense that there's something lacking in the film.

PERSONA is probably Bergman's most experimental film. The framing sequences of images let us know this isn't a straightforward fiction film. Like MichiganJ, I see the influence of Godard here. Bergman pushes some of the boundaries and questions some of his previous approaches to cinema. Can you have a sex scene that's one long monologue about something that happened in the past? Yes, this experiment succeeds brilliantly. How about repeating another long monologue, this time showing us the face of the listener rather than the face of the speaker? That experiment doesn't work so well for me. Even in the elements ChiO objects to, Bergman is pushing the boundaries of what is cinematic. What is the relationship between speech and image? PERSONA seems to me quite different from something like THE BIG KNIFE, to choose a really gruesome example, where an exaggerated respect for Clifford Odets' dialogue leads to pretentious speech after pretentious speech with almost no cinema.

Along with the sense of experimentalism comes a lessening of emotional appeal, as is usually the case with experiments, and in different ways I think ChiO and I are both pointing to this. PERSONA is an intellectual film, and an intellectual's film. To me, the sum of the parts is much greater than the whole. SHAME, for instance, seems more of a piece, although the best moments of PERSONA seem greater. The fusion of the two faces, the splitting again, and then the second fusion are an overwhelming climax for the film. Where on earth can Bergman go from here? What can he do to top this? He can't, and the rest of the film falls away.

In the struggle between the ordinary person (Alma) and the artist (Elisabet), the artist proves herself much the stronger. The nurse believes that she will help cure the famous actress and develop a special friendship with her. Soon enough she's behaving neurotically like a jilted lover, threatening to throw boiling water at her. The artist draws out all the secrets of the ordinary person for her own selfish reasons, treating the other person as a mere case study, additional material for her art. Will she, however, be able to communicate again through her art what she has learned? Will she even want to? On this point PERSONA remains silent.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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I haven't seen Persona yet. Film4 in Britain seems to be showing a Bergman every week at the moment, so I'm just watching them as they come along. Mr first was Cries and Whispers, then Through a Glass Darkly and most recently Summer Interlude; so I'm doing things back to front.

Well, I really liked Summer Interlude. It is one of Bergman's early films, 1951, and concerns a ballerina looking back on an early love affair. Maj-Britt Nilsson plays the dancer, rehearsing Swan Lake in the 'present day' part of the story; Birger Malmsten - looking a lot like Jean Marais - plays her boyfriend in the flashbacks; and Alf Kjellin her current lover, to whom she won't open up because of the painful memories connected with the end of her first affair. I wish I could remember the story of Swan Lake in detail, because I'm sure it must have been a deliberate choice so as to chime in thematically with the rest of the film.

There's a bit more hope in it than the other Bergman films I've seen, and it's perhaps a bit more conventional. It certainly looks sunnier - the seashore where Nilsson and Malmsten spend the summer is absolutely glorious. Bergman does a very good job of hiding the fact that Nilsson isn't a dancer; her performance is excellent - half the time, she plays a sad, almost embittered woman in her late twenties, and the rest of the time she is an exuberant, optimistic livewire in her mid teens. It also contains a sequence I never could have imagined in a Bergman film - a little animated sequence. Nilsson and Malmsten are listening to records, and he does a doodle on the sleeve of the disc - whereupon the figures come to life and act out the characters' fantasies and wishes.

I wonder whether The Red Shoes was an influence - there is a ballet master character who seemed to have aspects of both Robert Helpman and Anton Walbrook in that film.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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The story of Swan Lake is about Prince Siegfrid and a good swan Odette and a bad swan Odile. I wonder if the triangle of the two swans and the Prince mirror that of the ballerina and her loves. I recorded this, I'll watch it soon.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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I watched Summer Interlude today. *SPOILERS INCLUDED* I find the early Bergman very different to his later works. Perhaps he got more confident in his themes and style. Summer Interlude I found very similar to Summer With Monika, although the heroine was not destructuve like Monika is. I think Bergman handles young passion really well, giving it so much feeling, so much that the storoy moves on naturally itself. In these two films his women are the drivers in their relationships. Summer Interlude is about Marie, a ballet dancer at the peak of her career, during a dress rehearsal for Swan Lake. Her boyfriend is a young reporter, things don't seem quite right between them even though they each like one another, there seems to be a block. Through the use of a diary, Bergman allows us to go back into the teenage Marie's world and the summer she met Henrik, he on a furlough from university and she on a furlough from the ballet school. They spend all Summer together falling deeper in love, becoming soul mates. Each of the youngsters have their own cross to bear, Marie's is her orphan status and her lecherous uncle and Henrik's is his eccentric stepmother who cannot stand him. Soon Summer ends, they consummate their relationship before they go back to the city, disaster strikes, Henrik is killed after diving into the sea, knocking his head and causing a haemmoarge. The young ballerina goes back to her work puts up barriers to protect herself and works, works, works. We understand that her uncle has been more than an uncle to her, he has sent her Henrik's diary after many years, bringing Marie back to the Summer house where she had spent her Summer 13 years before. I honestly thought the film was going to end badly but Bergman pulls it around with a happy ending, by revisiting the Summer house she comes to terms finally with Henrik's death and is able to move forward with her new boyfriend. Bergman handles this story with so much sensitivity, it's refreshing. The inclusion of the ballet in the film punctuated the film well and although I couldn't see any parellels to Marie's story, the music and movement of the swans was a good counter balance. Although Maj'Britt Nillson was not a dancer, Bergman cleverly fudges the dancing scenes so that it doesn't matter. The only bum note in the whole film is when Marie asks her uncle to shot Henrik's dog, that sent a chill down my back.

Water seems to feature very heavily in the films of Bergman, they are often set near water or have scenes upon the water, it's a theme I like.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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I saw Sawdust and Tinsel another earlier Bergman film, this one not as easy to take, it's overriding theme seems to be about humiliation. At the beginning of the movie the clown has to rescue his wife who has stripped off and jumped in the sea with a contingant of soldiers, to compound it someone hides their clothes so the wife has no option to be carried naked by her husband thorugh the soldiers, her husband clinging her closely to him to hide her figure. Fast forward a few years to a tawdry circus run by a tawdry manager and his tawdry circus people, among these are the clown and his wife. The mistress and top act of the show is Anne an Andalucian rider. As they get to town they visit the theatre to borrow clothes which after being humiliated they get. Anne's head is turned by an actor in the troop. On their way through town the circus get stopped by the police and their horses confiscated. The circus leader tries to return to his very able wife who left him, he has to ask to be allowed to stay, Agda the wife is the nicest person in this film, she has to refuse, she's content with her shop and her two sons. Anna realising her beau the circus manager will leave her if he has the opportunity visits the actor to get him to take her with him, the game she plays doesn;t work in her favour and she's gets locked in the room and has to give her favours to be let out, a valuable locket is given as a prize, sometihng that will help her live for a year, she finds out it's worthless. THe actor has humiliated her and later comes to the circus and has a fist fight with the circus master who has found out about their tryst. The circus master is beaten, not really by brawn but by a sober man who has his wits about him.

The entire film is about the life of the circus, how they live on the outside of society, partially shunned and ridiculed and partially watched out of interest. Each member exists, the two main protaganists can't escape the circus or each other. The flim leaves us with a reconciliation but a thought that the fragile state won't last long.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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Happy Birthday Ingmar Bergman

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(1918 - 2007)
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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Thank you Mongo.

I carried on with my Bergman viewing by watching To Joy made in 1950 and featuring Maj Brit Nillson as Marta and Stig Olin as Stig, they are two violinists who play in the same orchestra were the conductor is Victor Sjostrom, brilliant in one of his later roles. They get together, get married, have children but don't always get on, they grow apart, he has an affair, Stig leaves and after being parted for 3 months realises that his malaise his discontent is within himself and his inability to be a solo violinist, sometihng he has striven to be has been driving them apart. It's not the fastest paced Bergman film, it does have good moments, the couple in their good moments are incredibly tender with one another and together. The music used throughout lifts the film. We know from the first of a tragedy that happens and as we feel that the film is going to end on a very sad note, Bergman uses the music and the image of a child to make our souls soar. An intersting early Bergman.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

Post by charliechaplinfan »

The rental service is sending Bergman movies thick and fast at the moment, today it was the turn of Waiting Women, a film that is almost a comedy by Bergman's standards. It's the story of women, each married to a different brother who are waiting for the husbands to join them in their summer cottage, each one is anxious before their husbands arrive and each one has a tale to tell as she waits. Rakel's is about when she was unfaithful to her husband with an old boyfriend, Marta's is about her passionate romance with Martin and his desertion before she has his child and the funniest, Karin's is about when she gets stuck in an elevator with her husband and what ensues, this my favorite sequence of the whole film where Gunnar Bjornstrand goes from stick in the mud and really opens up to his overtly sexy wife, first remonstarting with her for her daring decolletage and then ferverently admiring it. When the elevator starts to move again it's pure comedy. Hidden in each of these little stories are telling tales about other members of the family, Marta has a lose reputation, even though a few years forward she is at the bosom of the family. There is another woman, Marta's sister who is listening to the tales of the married women and is planning to elope, her's being the passionate love that hasn't had the time to become stale. Is this really what Bergman is saying? I think I prefer the Bergman films that are sympathetic to women or told from te woman's point of view, Bergman being an interesting director of women. The ones I struggle more with are the medieval tales, I still like then I just struggle to get int othe atomosphere of them, apart from The Virgin Spring, I got into that quitr easily.

Another actress from Bergman's stock company I've been introduced to here, Eva Dahlbeck, I look forward to seeing her in other films.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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A Bergman that I didn't care for After The Rehearsal, I didn't even finish watching it. Perhaps it's a little biographical, I thought it was indulgent and wordy. To be fair it is a made for TV film that was eventually exported to the rest of the world, it takes place on the stage. I watched about two thirds of it, the only good thing was the appearance of Ingrid Thulin, with her beautiful bone structure. I could see where the storyline was going but for once, it doesn't do anything for me.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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I've found a Bergman movie that is more than 90 minutes long. I've broken off part way through to have a female rant. Scenes From A Marriage, how dare Johan behave like that to Marianne, played by the beautiful Liv Ullman, OK, life might have got a bit stale, their sex life might have gone off the boil and they might be tied to pleasing all the people you should in life, parents, friends, children etc. They might be on the verge of a break up which is only true for Johan, he's so cruel when he tells her, so matter of fact, this resonates, this happened very close to home, not my own marriage but someone close. He left without a comforting word, without a thought for the person and family, that person was at mental breaking point and was remorseful ever after. Not Johan, he's cruel with her, for the most part she takes it, I can only imagine he's some authority figure for her being older. He shuns all his responsibilites, his daughters, his parents, the dentist. Then he comes back months later after deserting not just her but their daughters and tries to have his cake and eat it. He gets off very lightly.

Interestingly at the beginning he could think of lots to say about why he was so good, she couldn't. To me she's by far the most likeable, Johan has little redeeming features. He wants to leave all the boring day to day responsibilites and cavort with a young woman

I have a hour left, I might not see it all tonight, it's late. ChiO, Mr Arkadin, give me the man's point of view. I see a little bit of Husbands here.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

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ChiO, Mr Arkadin, give me the man's point of view.
First, let me make it clear that I cannot give the "man's point of view" on this film or any film. Heck, I can barely give my point of view on a movie, so forget about a point of view on behalf of my gender.

Second, I haven't seen SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE since around 1974-77 when it was shown on a local PBS station. All I remember was that I loved it (but I was in a phase where Bergman and Truffaut were the only directors that mattered -- they were "foreign", you know) and it frightened the bejeebers out of me (this was during Marriage No.1 and there were times that presented challenges). Dare I watch it now?

I defer to Mr. Ark for the Enlightened Male point of view.
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Re: Ingmar Bergman

Post by jdb1 »

Chi-Chi, I think you should watch SFAM now. I'm guessing that at this point in your life, you will find yourself losing patience with a lot of the things these people say and do to each other. And you may appreciate Bergman the Insightful even more, if such a thing is possible.
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