Santiago Ramos at Commonweal:
A common argument against Bergman is that he is fated for oblivion because his movies did not advance the art of film; they were closer to theater than to the pure cinematic art of other art-house directors of that generation, such as Godard, Resnais, and Antonioni. Bergman’s religious themes, it is said, are pretentious and outdated; people don’t brood over God and death anymore the way his characters do. We brood over social conditions and economic injustice, or else we are too happy at the End of History, too secular and self-satisfied to brood at all. Bergman will only be remembered, the argument goes, by scholars, who will credit him for bringing Scandinavian exoticism and a certain “seriousness” to the cinema, as well as for the great actors who graced his movies: Max von Sydow, Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann, et al. But neither his stories nor his ideas will move people the way they once did.
Even if all these criticisms were true—and I’d dispute at least some of them—there is still something else that is of lasting value in Bergman: the unique aesthetic attitude that his movies invite the viewer to assume.