Ingmar Bergman 1918—2007
Ingmar Bergman directing Wild Strawberries
I came to Bergman via a week-long retrospective on PBS-TV in the early 70s. A teenager, I was too callow and inexperienced to fully appreciate the mature subject matter and characterizations within the films, but still found a lot of it compelling, The Silence (1963) especially.
In college Wild Strawberries (1957) was shown repeatedly, analyzed frame by frame to help us understand the psychology of imagery. Today I find it hard to watch this one in particular, simply because of that academic drill. Analysis has robbed it of its beauty for me, which is a shame because it is a wonderful achievement both cinematically and emotionally.
Throughout the years I’ve found myself jaded and not as attracted to Bergman as I once was. But make no mistake, there is much to be mined, from the adult themes to his innate grasp of the human condition; the captivating cinematography of Sven Nykvist; and those wonderful casts of actors. He made me fall in love with Bibi Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Harriet Andersson and Ingrid Thulin, and I still marvel at their performances in that raft of films that were once in constant demand in theaters: Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Magician (1958), The Devil’s Eye (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1962), The Silence, Persona (1966). There isn’t one filmmaker working today who could come anywhere near that output of sheer quality.