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Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007)


Swedish director and screenwriter whose unique cinematographic style made him one of the most notable directors of the twentieth century.
Ingmar Bergman
Well, we're grasping for two things at once. Partly for communion with others — that's the deepest instinct in us. And partly, we're seeking security. By constant communion with others we hope we shall be able to accept the horrible fact of our total solitude. We're always reaching out for new projects, new structure, new systems in order to abolish — partly or wholly — our insight into our loneliness. If it weren't so, religious systems would never arise.
Bergman quotes
You find him disgusting with his thick mouth and ugly body and wet appealing eyes. You think he's disgusting and you're afraid.
Bergman
For me the filmmaker Bergman is the greatest actor of all. His vision and his filmic force, the thing that the Frenchmen call auteur. What Kurosawa and Fellini also have — but to me Bergman is number one!




Bergman Ingmar quotes
I've never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He's made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin, fιminin, was shot here in Sweden. It was mindnumbingly boring.
Bergman Ingmar
I've never liked Welles as an actor, because he's not really an actor. In Hollywood you have two categories, you talk about actors and personalities. Welles was an enormous personality, but when he plays Othello, everything goes down the drain, you see, that's when he's croaks. In my eyes he's an infinitely overrated filmmaker.
Ingmar Bergman quotes
Now let's get this Devil business straight, once and for all. To begin at the beginning: the notion of God, one might say, has changed aspect over the years, until it has either become so vague that it has faded away altogether or else has turned into something entirely different. For me, hell has always been a most suggestive sort of place; but I've never regarded it as being located anywhere else than on earth. Hell is created by human beings — on earth!
What I believed in those days — and believed in for a long time — was the existence of a virulent evil, in no way dependent upon environmental or hereditary factors. Call it original sin or whatever you like — anyway an active evil, of which human beings, as opposed to animals, have a monopoly. Our very nature, qua human beings, is that inside us we always carry around destructive tendencies, conscious or unconscious, aimed both at ourselves and at the outside world.
As a materialization of this virulent, indestructible, and — to us — inexplicable and incomprehensble evil, I manufactured a personage possessing the diabolical traits of a mediaeval morality figure. In various contexts I'd made it into a sort of private game to have a diabolic figure hanging around. His evil was one of the springs in my watch-works. And that's all there is to the devil-figure in my early films... Unmotivated cruelty is something which never ceases to fascinate me; and I'd very much like to know the reason for it. Its source is obscure and I'd very much like to get at it.
Ingmar Bergman
We drove about, looking for churches, my father and I. My father, as you probably know, was a clergyman — he knew all the Uppland churches like the back of his hand. We went to morning services in variouis places and were deeply impressed by the spiritual poverty of these churches, by the lack of any congregation and the miserable spiritual status of the clergy, the poverty of their sermons, and the nonchalance and indifference of the ritual.
In one church, I remember — and I think it has a great deal to do with the end of the film — Father and I were sitting together. My father had already been retired for many years, and was old and frail.... Just before the bell begins to toll, we hear a car outside, a shining Volvo: the clergyman climbs out hurriedly, and there is a faint buzz from the vestry, and then the clergyman appears before he ought to — when the bell stops, that is — and says he feels very poorly and that he's talked to the rector and the rector has said he can use an abbrviated form of the service and drop the part at the altar. So there would be just one psalm and a sermon and another psalm. And goes out. Whereon my father, furious, began hammering on the pew, got to his feet and marched out into the vestry, where a long mumbled conversation ensued; after which the churchwarden also went in, then someone ran up the organ gallery to fetch the organist, after which the churchwarden came out and announced that there would be a complete service after all. My father took the service at the altar, but at the beginning and the end.
In some way I feel the end of the play was influenced by my father's intervention — that at all costs one must do what it is one's duty to do, particularly in spiritual contexts. Even if it can seem meaningless.
Bergman Ingmar quotes
In this profession, I always admire people who are going on, who have a sort of idea and, however crazy it is, are putting it through; they are putting people and things together, and they make something. I always admire this. But I can't see his pictures. I sit for perhaps twenty-five or thirty or fifty minutes and then I have to leave, because his pictures make me so nervous. I have the feeling the whole time that he wants to tell me things, but I don't understand what it is, and sometimes I have the feeling that he's bluffing, double-crossing me.
Bergman
I have always admired him, and I wish I could be a equally good filmaker as he is, but it will never happen. His love for the cinema almost gives me a guilty conscience.
Bergman Ingmar
He's done two masterpieces, you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido, and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade... He concentrated on single images, never realising that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L'Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse Monica Vitti was a terrible actress.
Ingmar Bergman
I'm planning, you see, to try to confine myself to the truth. That's hard for an old, inveterate fantasy martyr and [illegible] liar who has never hesitated to give truth the form he felt the occasion demanded.




Ingmar Bergman quotes
Film has dream, film has music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames in a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness. At the editing table, when I run the trip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood: in the darkness of the wardrobe, I slowly wind one frame after another, see almost imperceptible changes, wind faster — a movement.
Ingmar Bergman
During a career that spans some four decades, he has made about 50 movies, and in those movies he has created an immediately recognizable world. Whether it is the distant allegorical realm of The Seventh Seal or the banal domestic one of Scenes From a Marriage, this world is a place where faith is tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory at best. God is either silent (as in Winter Light) or malevolent (as in The Silence), and Bergman's characters find themselves ruled, instead, by the capricious ghosts and demons of the unconscious.
More persuasively than any other director, Bergman has mapped out the geography of the individual psyche — its secret yearnings and its susceptibility to memory and desire.
Bergman quotes
Winter Light — suppose we discuss that now?... The film is closely connected with a particular piece of music: Stravinski's A Psalm Symphony. I heard it on the radio one morning during Easter, and it struck me I'd like to make a film about a solitary church on the plains of Uppland. Someone goes into the church, locks himself in, goes up to the altar, and says: 'God, I'm staying here until in one way or another You've proved to me You exist. This is going to be the end either of You or of me!' Originally the film was to have been about the days and nights lived through by this solitary person in the locked church, getting hungrier and hungrier, thirstier and thirstier, more and more expectant, more and more filled with his own experiences, his visions, his dreams, mixing up dream and reality, while he's involved in this strange, shadowy wrestling match with God.
We were staying out on Toro, in the Stockholm archipelago. It was the first summer I'd had the sea all around me. I wandered about on the shore and went indoors and wrote, and went out again. The drama turned into something else; into something altogether tangible, something perfectly real, elementary and self-evident.
The film is based on something I'd actually experienced. Something a clergyman up in Dalarna told me: the story of the suicide, the fisherman Persson. One day the clergyman had tried to talk to him; the next, Persson had hanged himself. For the clergyman it was a personal catastrophe.
Bergman Ingmar
I think he's a very good technician. And he has something in Psycho, he had some moments. Psycho is one of his most interesting pictures because he had to make the picture very fast, with very primitive means. He had little money, and this picture tells very much about him. Not very good things. He is completely infantile, and I would like to know more — no, I don't want to know — about his behaviour with, or, rather, against women. But this picture is very interesting.
Bergman Ingmar quotes
Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics — religion, death, existentialism — to the screen. ... But the best of Bergman is the way he speaks of women, of the relationship between men and women. He’s like a miner digging in search of purity.
Ingmar Bergman
As far as I recall, it's a question of the total dissolution of all notions of an other-worldly salvation. During those years this was going on in me all the time and being replaced by a sense of the holiness — to put it clumsily — to be found in man himself. The only holiness which really exists. A holiness wholly of this world. And I suppose that's what the final sequence tries to express. The notion of love as the only thinkable form of holiness.
At the same time another line of development in my idea of God begins here, one that has perhaps grown stronger over the years. The idea of the Christian God as something destructive and fantastically dangerous, something filled with risk for the human being and bringing out in him dark destructive forces instead of the opposite.
Ingmar Bergman quotes
I don't want to produce a work of art that the public can sit and suck aesthetically…. I want to give them a blow in the small of the back, to scorch their indifference, to startle them out of their complacency.
Ingmar Bergman
People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.
The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.
We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil — or perhaps a saint — out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.
Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.
Bergman Ingmar
I am so 100 percent Swedish... Someone has said a Swede is like a bottle of ketchup — nothing and nothing and then all at once — splat. I think I'm a little like that. And I think I'm Swedish because I like to live here on this island. You can't imagine the loneliness and isolation in this country. In that way, I'm very Swedish — I don't dislike to be alone


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