Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Death Plays Chess, Täby Church, Sweden (1480s)

Igmar Bergman died yesterday. It is everywhere here in Sweden with most newspapers devoting the entire edition today to him. Television stations have reprogrammed viewing for the next few days showing films and specials on him. I was here when Astrid Lindgren died and this was marked as the passing of a figure of national consciousness. The death of Bergman seems to be moving in the same direction and while the man himself was somewhat critical of Swedish society (as he was of almost everything) he also seems to have defined so much of its image abroad. Looking at the database on Bergman the output is unbelievable (even if one lives to be 89). He is described in the national daily Dagens Nyheter as the "poet of the screen" and this is as good a term as I can think of for him. Although I have only seen two of his films, they struck me as some of the most visually striking and innovative pieces of cinema I have ever seen. Det sjunde inseglet/The Seventh Seal (1957) is exactly what one would expect from 'visual poetry'. The other Bergman is In The Silence (Swedish: Tystnaden) (1963) which blew me away with its use of light and dark and the intensity of the characters.
While he was an old man it disturbs me Bergman is gone. I do, however look forward to seeing more of his films.

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