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Ingmar Bergman


I haven't seen Summer Interlude (or any of Bergman's pre-1957 work ), but Scenes From a Marriage is definitely one of his greatest achievements.
Summer Interlude is great. It's reminiscent of The Red Shoes so I'd recommend it particularly if you're a fan of that, or Black Swan.

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Well, here we are. My favorite Bergman film. Where do I begin when discussing my boundless adoration of Fanny and Alexander, which is very nearly the best motion picture I've ever seen?

To me, Bergman's chronicle of the Ekdahl family is his most joyous work. There is, obviously, the traditional melancholy you'd expect from the director, but it's virtually absent in the film's first half, which details an opulent Christmas party hosted by Fanny and Alexander's grandmother. The entire cast is spot on, but Gunn Wallgren as the grandmother and primary anchor of the Ekdahls may be the strongest of them all.

I can't name another film which so successfully encloses me in its world, and I love the Christmas party sequence because it helps to do this so brilliantly. This is even more true in the five-hour television version, which Bergman himself preferred. By the time the bishop arrives and the children are taken to his prison-like fortress, we already feel as though we are a part of the family, and it heightens their peril for us.

Jan Malmsjo's performance as Bishop Vergerus is also worth mentioning. I don't think I've ever hated a character in a film as much as I've despised him. He's hypocritical, ignorant, cruel, and ultimately evil, so it's particularly interesting to note that Bergman once mentioned he included a little of himself in all of the male characters. Yet there's no doubt that the power struggle between Alexander and the bishop is an illustration of Bergman's own conflicts with his father, a strict Lutheran minister. Not since Winter Light had the director brought this relationship to life in his films so vividly.

It's impossible to discuss Fanny and Alexander without mentioning the gorgeous cinematography. This ranks among Sven Nykvist's best work, and you can feel an exuberance for life in all its aspects bursting through the screen. The Christmas party is a feast for the eyes and soul, and the portrayal of the bishop's fortress is appropriately draining and desolate.

At the center of Fanny and Alexander and the lives of the Ekdahls is the theater. It's another great autobiographical touch, as Bergman was involved in theater his whole life, but it also exemplifies one of the film's major themes: the collision of reality and fantasy. After all, the film often feels like a grand, extensive fairy tale. So it's no gimmick that Fanny and Alexander includes various scenes that stem entirely from Alexander's imagination; another reason why I prefer the extended cut is because there are more of such sequences present. Bergman suggests a great and profound truth: that when life gets tough, we would all like to burrow ourselves in the wonders of imagination. Isn't that what film (and theater) is really all about?

In what he intended as his final film, Ingmar Bergman crafted his most accessible and dramatically satisfying film. Indeed, all of life can be seen in Fanny and Alexander: there is love, death, pain, hatred, humor, fantasy, good, evil, joy and sadness. If one film could stand for the entire human experience, I think it would be this one. Fanny and Alexander is not only the ultimate tribute and conclusion to Bergman's career, but a life-affirming masterpiece bursting with a sense of overwhelming optimism.

That about does it for my posts on Bergman's films so far, but I would love to hear more thoughts from people about him.
"Puns are the highest form of literature." -Alfred Hitchcock

Fanny And Alexander is the first and only Bergman film I have seen thus far, and I really enjoyed it. I can't say that I connected with any of the characters the way I really like to in a film. However there are so many themes touched upon throughout that I think it would be nearly impossible not to connect to this movie as a whole. There are a couple of scenes that removed me from the film a bit, but maybe I need to watch the television version, perhaps then there would be some more context to those scenes. I will certainly seek out some more of Bergman's films. I enjoyed all your reviews, and I think that based on your synopsis I may try Cries And Whispers next.

Cries and Whispers (1972)

To give you an idea of my admiration for this masterpiece, I'll begin by saying that Cries and Whispers is far and away the most devastating and emotionally jarring film I have ever seen. Bergman never cut deeper than he does here; this is the screen's supreme master of human emotions descending into a hellish pit of hatred, pain and anguish.

In turn-of-the-19th-century Sweden, two women visit their dying sister and her maid, who is the only person in the film shown to be genuinely caring for the cancer-stricken woman. The two sisters, played by Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Thulin in two of their very best performances, are cruel and emotionally detached, as shown by their nightmarish relationships with their husbands and each other.

Much has been said already about the symbolism of the deep red colors that the film is drenched in, so I won't waste words there. It's no exaggeration to say Cries and Whispers is Bergman's most painful film, but it's also the director's final statement on two of his pre-eminent themes: death and religion. The former is seen often in Bergman's work, but never as brutally as it is here. The latter can be seen in the unwavering faith of Anna, the maid, who as I mentioned is the only person willing to care for the dying sister. What I think Bergman is saying is, despite his own lack of faith, it's better to live with faith if it lets you live with love; perhaps he even envies Anna.

What truly confirms Cries and Whispers as a masterpiece is its ending. Without spoiling anything for those who have not seen the film, it is incredibly life-affirming, and perfectly shows why Bergman was the ultimate humanist filmmaker. What we are left with is not a depressing movie, but rather an unforgettable and flawless work by a true master of both the cinema and human emotions.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this one if you've seen it- it's one of my absolute favorites.

I absolutely loved Cries And Whispers. This is how you make an art house film. I ask a lot of the movies I give perfect ratings. I want something that I will still be thinking about months after I see it. I want story lines that engage me throughout. I want multi-layered developed characters that I care about. I want themes to consider, but I do not want to be hit over the head with them, neither do I want to watch a film 5 times to find them. Bergman hit all of these elements out of the park with Cries and Whispers. Obviously Bergman runs many themes throughout his films, that being said Cries And Whispers for me was primarily about human intimacy. Our natural desire for it, the reasons why we reject it, what we would do for it, and how it shapes our other relationships. This is a beautiful, thoughtful film. Definite 5/5

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Cries And Whispers for me was primarily about human intimacy. Our natural desire for it, the reasons why we reject it, what we would do for it, and how it shapes our other relationships.
That's pretty much what any Bergman film is really about.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

That's pretty much what any Bergman film is really about.
But rarely is it portrayed with as much beauty, elegance, and raw emotional power as in Cries and Whispers. Mark, what do you think of it?

^Awesome write-up! That was really insightful, I had never thought of Cries and Whispers in terms of familial dysfunction before. Personally, I think the film has an emotional power to it that sets it far apart from the typical Bergman psychodrama. Not to mention the gorgeous set design

I admit I have not seen many movies by Ingmar Bergman. But I have seen Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. I really liked The Seventh Seal, but Wild Strawberries I thought was okay. Need to see more of his stuff.

According to my criticker scores, these are my top 10 Bergman films.

A couple of these I guess I value more than many other Bergman fans.

1. Fanny & Alexander
2. Persona
3. Through a Glass Darkly
4. Cries and Whispers
5. Winter Light
6. Hour of the Wolf
7. The Seventh Seal
8. Wild Strawberries
9. Passion of Anna
10. The Silence

^Can't argue with that top 2 No Scenes From a Marriage though?
Have yet to see that one, hoping to grab the criterion release sometime.

Have yet to see that one, hoping to grab the criterion release sometime.
Do you know about the Barnes and Noble 50% off sales in July? I'm going to get the rest of the Bergmans I don't have this time, only need a couple more.

Also, have you seen The Magician?

^Can't argue with that top 2 No Scenes From a Marriage though?
By the way, just ordered the Scenes from a Marriage criterion.

Sweet If you see the television version, let me know what you think. I've only seen the theatrical cut, which I loved.
I watched the first three episodes of the tv version so far. It's great, lots of loooong, spellbinding dialogue scenes. Fantastic acting, a brutal, but always endearing, watch. An easy 5/5 and I haven't even seen all of it yet.

I'd say the tv version of Fanny and Alexander is worth your time even if you aready saw the theatrical cut.