The Immortal World of Ingmar Bergman

Lane-The-Immortal-World-of-Ingmar-BergmanAnthony Lane at The New Yorker:

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman, and, for any New Yorkers keen to pay homage, the journey starts now. Over the next five weeks, starting on Thursday with “The Seventh Seal” (1957), Film Forum will be showing forty-seven films. One of Bergman’s most appealing traits is that, though the mood of his movies could be famously difficult and fraught, they poured forth in generous profusion, as if he could hardly help himself, and knew no other release. He dreamed, drew, pondered, probed, and agonized on film, and what resulted, more often than not, bore the grip of a thriller and the elegance of a waltz. If you wish to be reminded of what the medium can do, or if you doubt the depths that lurk beneath the flat skin of celluloid, waiting to be fathomed, Bergman is your man.

Not the least of the pleasures, for anyone with the stamina for the complete retrospective, will be the chance to make connections. As the flighty heroine of “Dreams” (1955), for instance, Harriet Andersson explores a row of gramophone records in the house of an ageing roué, plucks one out, and reads the label aloud, saying “Saraband” and “Bach” (which she pronounces “batch”). For a second, our minds are spirited forward to “Cries and Whispers” (1972), in which the mournful saraband, a movement from Bach’s fifth cello suite, is heard during a scene of reconciliation—as it is, once again, during one of Bergman’s final works, made for Swedish television in 2003, and simply titled “Saraband.”

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