Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bergman

Turner Classic Movies has Bergman on all night, beginning at 9:00 PM Eastern with The Seventh Seal, followed by Wild Strawberries and Persona.

The Criterion Collection is releasing The Seventh Seal on DVD in a couple of weeks.

The Seventh Seal is the first Bergman film I saw. I saw it at a foreign film theater just off-campus when I was a college freshman in Lubbock. They ran And God Created Woman a week later, and I was hooked on foreign films until the '80s when, for reasons I can't explain, except for the films of Tarkovsky and a couple of other directors, I lost interest in them. Maybe it was because my directors had died off or petered out.

I think of Persona and Cries and Whispers as Bergman's masterpieces, but The Seventh Seal was my first encounter with the collision of idealism and naturalism in film. To my romantic 18-year-old mind, the knight, Antonius Block, and Death were fascinating allegorical figures. They were in the natural world, but not of it. As I grew older, I was drawn more and more to the rich natural world of Bergman's films, but, in the beginning, like Block, I imagined a life of the intellect was superior to a life of the flesh.

5 comments:

Tom Manoff said...

I saw the last half of Seventh Seal yesterday also. Powerful myth these 50 years later. Classical style. Powerful when I saw it as a kid, and deeper now. You can't beat black and white I think, unless you're David Lean.

B&W seems less vulnerable to dating the style.

Billy Glad said...

I hadn't thought of that. Hard to imagine anyone choosing to do a film in black-and-white nowadays, but I suppose there are exceptions.

Tom Manoff said...

I watched Lean's "Passage to India" the other day. It's a pain that it wasn't in full letterbox. Even so, the long shots of the Ganges, a train across a bridge in the distance, the moon above a temple, were the best moments of the picture for me. The acting seemed dated. But the acting in Zhivago doesn't. Have to think on that.

The acting in Seventh Seal is stylized and retains immediacy through that classicism. I wonder if realism in acting is more vulnerable to outdating than the stylization of Seventh Seal?

Tom Manoff said...

That picture is too stuffy for this place, Mansky.

Billy Glad said...

We have you talking to yourself, Mansky Manoff.

Funny, but the British films are my least favorite foreign films now, except for Tunes of Glory. I did like them during the Seventies.