Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingnmar Bergman - A Filmmaker Lost

Legendary film-maker Ingmar Bergman, one of the key figures in modern cinema, has died at the age of 89.

His 60-year career spanned intense classics like Cries & Whispers, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. He was personally nominated for nine Oscars between 1960 and 1984, while three of his productions won Oscars for best foreign film. Bergman died at his home in Faro, Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.

For most cinemagoers, Ingmar Bergman is Swedish cinema. Certainly, few other directors have assumed Bergman's burden of representing an entire nation for international audiences. His austere appraisals of familial strife and spiritual angst may have worked against the grain of the Swedish Tourist Board, but Bergman has nevertheless single-handedly put his homeland on the cinematic map. His sombre canon, encompassing more than 40 feature films shot with complete artistic control, has earned him auteurship and helped raise cinema's stature to that enjoyed by other art forms.

As a director, Bergman favored intuition over intellect, and chose to be unaggressive in dealing with actors. Bergman saw himself as having a great responsibility toward them, viewing them as collaborators often in a psychologically vulnerable position. He stated that a director must be both honest and supportive in order to allow others their best work.

His films usually deal with existential questions of mortality, loneliness, and faith; they also tend to be direct and not overtly stylized. Persona, one of Bergman's most famous films, is unusual among Bergman's work in being both existentialist and avant-garde.

While his themes could be cerebral, sexual desire found its way to the foreground of most of his movies, whether the setting was the era of the plague ("The Seventh Seal"), upper-class family life in early 20th century Uppsala ("Fanny and Alexander") or contemporary times in a strange city ("The Silence"). The female characters were usually more in touch with their sexuality than their men. In an interview with Playboy magazine in 1964, he said: "...the manifestation of sex is very important, and particularly to me, for above all, I don't want to make merely intellectual films. I want audiences to feel, to sense my films. This to me is much more important than their understanding them." Film, Bergman said, was his demanding mistress. Some of his major actresses became his real-life mistresses.

Bergman usually wrote his own scripts, thinking about them for months or years before starting the actual process of writing, which he viewed as somewhat tedious. His earlier films are carefully structured, and are either based on his plays or written in collabortion with other authors. Bergman stated that in his later works, when on occasion his actors would want to do things differently from his own intentions, he would let them, noting that the results were often "disastrous" when he did not do so. As his career progressed, Bergman increasingly let his actors improvise their dialogue. In his latest films, he wrote just the ideas informing the scene and allowed his actors to determine exact dialogue.

Bergman died at his home in Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.

According to the TT news agency, Bergman died peacefully on Faro Island - or Sheep Island - in the Baltic Sea. The director had settled there after using it as a location for several films.

Source: BBC, Wikipedia

No comments: