SIFFTribute To Masters: Second Screening List of Works by BERGMAN
In 2018, 100 years have passed since legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar BERGMAN was born. As one stop of the Global Exhibitions for Centenary of Ingmar Bergman, a special panorama for the 100th Anniversary of Ingmar Bergman’s birth will take place during the Shanghai International Film Festival this year, which is scheduled on 16-25 June.
Prior to the CNY, SIFF released the first screening list for Bergman Special Panorama. Here’s the second:
THE VIRGIN SPRING
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
HOUR OF THE WOLF
CRIES AND WHISPERS
FANNY AND ALEXANDER
The Virgin Spring
Release year: 1960
Starring: Max von SYDOW/ Birgitta VALBERG/ Gunnel LINDBLOM/ Birgitta PETTERSSON
Comment: To Ang LEE, THE VIRGIN SPRING is the No.1 movie by Bergman, which he believes has changed his life after watching it. In the film, Bergman's incisive questioning on human nature, divinity, and the world has shocked many viewers.
THE VIRGIN SPRING is one of Bergman's renowned masterpieces, and the winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 33rd Academy Awards. Farmer Töre sends his daughter, Karin, to take candles to the church. Unexpectedly, two herders rape and murder Karin on the way, then unknowingly, seek shelter at the home of the murdered girl. Her parents discover that the herders murdered their daughter; in a rage, Töre stabs one of them to death. That same day, the parents find their daughter's body in the forest. Töre vows that he will build a church at the site of his daughter's death. As her parents lift her head from the ground, a spring begins to flow from where she was lying.
THE VIRGIN SPRING expressed Bergman's confusion and suspicion about religion. What is more acclaimed by the audience is the aesthetic images in the film. Following a soft and succinct cinematography style, Bergman didn’t emphasize too much on terror, even in the movie's climax – the killing scene, which also paid tribute to The Last Supper in composition.
Through a Glass Darkly
Release year: 1961
Starring: Harriet ANDERSSON/ Gunnar BJÖRNSTRAND/ Max von SYDOW
Comment: THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY is Bergman's first film shot on the island of Fårö, where he spent the last half of life later. From this movie, he opened a new page in his directing career. The title of the film is inspired by the Christian Bible, representing the gazing of you and me into the truth.
Karin has inherited her mother’s mental illness. Her father David, a writer, takes Karin to a remote island for rehabilitation, together with Karin’s boyfriend Martin and her younger brother Minus. Martin is a doctor and he believes Karin has a chance of recovery. The brother Minus, in his adolescence, is talented, but somehow frustrated. After the four people are settled on the island, the unease deep inside them slowly breeds…
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1962, and is often considered the first film in Bergman’s trilogy on spiritual issues that includes WINTER LIGHT and THE SILENCE. Bergman later retracted his claim the films form a trilogy, but when people speak of THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, they always refer to it as one of Bergman’s trilogy.
Release year: 1963
Starring: Ingrid THULIN/ Gunnel LINDBLOM
Comment: In THE SILENCE, Bergman managed to portray a pair of sisters in postwar Europe, who are distressed in flesh and soul. The film was originally titled “God’s Silence”, which helped define the coherent theme in Bergman’s trilogy. It is also considered as a prelude to his continuous creation on psychology motif, a transition from philosophy, in the later part of his career.
The story begins with two sisters. The older one Ester is a translator who suffers from lung cancer. She, together with her sister Anna and nephew Johan, is taking a train back to Sweden. On the way, three people rent an apartment in an old hotel. One day, Anna meets a waiter in a cafe. On her return, she fabricates a sexual encounter with the waiter to her sister, and even brings him back to the hotel, enraging her sister. The conflict between the two breaks out.
THE SILENCE is the third film of Bergman’s trilogy, which continues the director's spiritual exploration. With few dialogues, the film is more of a collage consisting of fragmented events. Solemn and dismal, the film overwhelms viewers with loneliness.
Hour of the Wolf
Release year: 1968
Starring: Max von SYDOW/ Liv ULLMANN/ Gertrud FRIDH/ Georg RYDEBERG
Comment: In HOUR OF THE WOLF, Bergman’s regular collaborators, Max von SYDOW and Liv ULLMANN gradually fall into a nightmare maze or maze-like nightmare as the narration goes on. The film title points to the deepest position during the articulation of the nightmare, which is also the time when the anxiety and emptiness of a man reach the extreme. This is a real horror movie, as well as one of Bergman's most mysterious works.
Painter Johan and his young wife Alma live on the small island of Baltrum. Strange dreams are plaguing Johan. He record these dreams in his sketchbook. One day, the owner of a castle, Merkens invites them to his place, where Alma discovers the people there are the same as who have appeared in her husband's sketchbook. She begs her husband to stay away from them. When Johan returns home, he confides to his wife that he has killed a kid on the edge of the cliff. The next day, when Johan comes to the castle again, he sees a ritual of demons...
In the movie, we can get a glimpse of Bergman's deconstruction of fear. Surrealism and thriller elements are combined to display the inner connection between artistic creation and insanity.
Cries and Whispers
Release year: 1972
Starring: Harriet ANDERSSON/ Kari SYLWAN/ Ingrid THULIN/ Liv ULLMANN/ Erland JOSEPHSON
Comment: As proclaimed by Bergman himself, among all his works, this is the one and only that cannot be pondered over without the context of color. To him, red is the color of soul. A sophisticated work following PERSONA and HOUR OF THE WOLF, your unmistakable choice for Bergman panorama.
The story is about three sisters, Agnes, Maria and Karin, who are facing respective hardships in life. Dying of uterine cancer, Agnes wants to ease the tension between her sisters before she dies, as she hasn’t received the affection from her mother. However, things just go contrary. Although Maria is their mother's favorite child, her romantic relationship is a mess, hesitating between her husband and former lover; Karin's life is full of repression, struggling with self-harm to repel her husband.
Bergman is very delicate when handling female themes. By describing the kinship and contradiction among three sisters, Bergman conveyed the complexity of human nature and the struggle of lives. Another prominent highlight of the film is the director's bold use of color: during Agnes's gradual death, Bergman applied bright and vibrant colors to render a beautiful and tender scene, so that viewers will not completely sink into despair.
Release year: 1978
Starring: Ingrid BERGMAN/ Liv ULLMANN/ Lena NYMAN
Comment: Shot during the time when the director was drifting overseas due to an accusation, the film is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece in Bergman’s later phase, and also the final work of celebrated actress Ingrid BERGMAN.
AUTUMN SONATA tells a story of a mother and a daughter. Charlotte is a world renowned pianist, but also an unsuccessful mother. She is estranged from her daughter Eva for seven years. After learning that Charlotte's second husband died, Eva invites her mother to live with her. Both trying to be nice to each other, it is still hard to avoid reviving the past.
AUTUMN SONATA won the 1979 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and was also nominated for two Academy Awards at the same year. Distinctive characters, calm camera language, soft and bright colors, and the dominating background music make this seemingly monotonous movie an important experimental work of Ingmar BERGMAN.
Fanny and Alexander
Release year: 1982
Starring: Kristina ADOLPHSON/ Börje AHLSTEDT/ Pernilla ALLWIN
Comment: Bergman's autobiographical work, which was also stated by himself as “his last feature film”. In FANNY AND ALEXANDER flows the rare gentleness of this tough filmmaker, as well as the modern touch that has gone beyond the times. It is “the most approachable movie of Bergman”.
Oscar and his wife, Emilie, run a theater. When rehearsing on the stage one day, Oscar dies from a stroke, leaving behind Emilie and their son and daughter: ten-year-old Alexander and five-year-old Fanny. Shortly thereafter, Emilie, marries Edward, a young bishop, later turning out to be a cruel and ruthless hypocrite. To control Emilie, he confines the children to their bedroom. With the help of businessman Isak, they finally escape from the house, and Edward is burned to death.
Depicted by 60 speaking characters and over 1,200 figurants, FANNY AND ALEXANDER is a family chronicle that incorporates comedy, tragedy and thriller. The film was honored a number of awards including the Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design and Best Foreign Language Film at the 56th Academy Awards.