Remembering Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman on his birthday, today!
The director is the maker of classic movies like ‘Persona’, ‘Winter Light’, ‘Cries and Whispers’, ‘The Seventh Seal’, and ‘Fanny and Alexander’
Ingmar Bergman is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. The Swedish director was one of a kind, his movies took a personal tone and went deep into the unexplored realms of the human psyche. Sources state that most of Bergman’s work was autobiographical. The way he explored human condition was something personal, something that can’t be copied.
Famous for his close-up shots, Bergman had once said, “The human face is the great subject of the cinema. Everything is there.” The director has crafted more than 50 movies in his career, most of them considered to be classics today. From the exploration of self to a relationship between two people to faith, the Swedish director has explored many themes. He sucessfully brought alive on screen, feelings that most of the humans are uneasy about. The director who was born on July 14, 1918, died in July 2007. Today, in remembrance of the master director, we bring to you his five of his best works:
1. The Seventh Seal (1957)
This 1957 film is considered to be one of Bergman’s finest. In this simply crafted tale, Bergman presents a very interesting idea, ‘playing chess with death.’ The film is set at the time of the ‘Black Death’ and unfolds as a knight returns to a ravaged land. As he walks near a church, he sees a man (personifying death) who challenges him to a chess match to save lives. The film talks about God, mainly about his absence. This critically acclaimed film is one of the most accessible Bergman films due to its direct approach to the topic it wants to discuss. The film starred Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand and Bengt Ekerot in lead roles.
2. Winter Light (1963)
On a winter day, a pastor stands in front of Christ and delivers his sermon. His face is stern, and his eyes are concentrated on the text he is reading, He believes in the lord but life has been hard for him. Soon, a man approaches him, this man has lost faith, he has accepted that he is powerless and that nothing matters. The pastor tries to convince the man to have faith but he’s not convinced.
The film presents the life of the pastor, posing serious questions like existentialism and God. It has underlying themes of human suffering and the meaning of life. This film starring Gunnar Björnstrand, Ingrid Thulin and Max von Sydow, stands the test of time. The film has been shot in a simple style avoiding many dramatic camera movements. According to sources, Bergman and his cinematographer sat in a rural church on a winter day, observing the light that came into the church, and discussed the camerawork. This shows Bergman’s love for the medium of cinema.
A child stands in front of a hazy picture. His little hands move on the glass pane in an operatic motion as if he is trying to soak up something.This sequence appears after the movie starts giving it a kind of mystery. This 1966 drama by Ingmar Bergman is considered one of his best films. Each scene presented in the movie paints a haunting picture and gives the viewers a mysterious feeling, like something more is going on than one can see. This film starring Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson, tells the story of an actress who suddenly stops speaking. She goes on a trip with a companion and many things happen once they reach there. The film presents a portrait of loneliness, dualism, sexuality and private torment that a human faces.
4. Cries and Whispers (1972)
Three sisters gather in a huge country mansion. After years, they are together, all of them fighting their personal demons. The eldest sister is suffering from cancer, everyone has gathered there to take care of her. There is a maid too who knows everything as seen in her eyes, she believes in the Lord, and she prays regularly. The two younger sisters have their own demons to battle; they are all estranged, and not interested in anyone else. The film follows the themes of estrangement, search for happiness in suffering and faith. The film starring, Kari Sylwan, Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann in lead roles, was nominated for the Best Picture Category at the Academy Awards in 1974, along with four more nominations for other categories. It won Sven Nykvist, the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
5. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
This 1982 film was intended by Bergman to be his last project. The film follows the life of two children who go to live with a stern bishop as their mother remarries after their father’s death. The film is available in two cuts (one 188 minutes long and the other 312-minutes long). Initially, Bergman wanted to make the story as a television miniseries. It operates on the themes of authority, innocence, magic, reality and faith. The film was one of the most popular films at the box office in Sweden at the time of its release.