Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman

UPDATE: Wow, we've lost two major filmmakers in less than 24 hours. Liam just informed me that Michelangelo Antonioni died last night in Rome at the age of 94.

If I'm Jean-Luc Godard, I'm getting out my rosary.

And though he wasn't a world-renowned filmmaker, Bill Walsh was one of the greatest football coaches of the modern era, leading the San Francisco 49ers to 3 Super Bowl victories. He died yesterday as well, after a long battle with lukemia.

I feel like I'm suddenly running an obiturary blog.

UPDATE 2: Yes, Steve, Tom Snyder also died - but on Sunday, July 29, not the more fashionable date of Monday, July 30.

If anyone knows of other famous or not so famous people who died yesterday - or Sunday - or this morning - please let me know. Unfortunately, I checked and is already taken. I'll have to consider another name for the new obit blog.

I'm reminded of other dates in history when several famous people passed away: November 22, 1963, for example, when John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley all died. And the Big One in the literary world: April 23, 1616, when both Shakespeare AND Cervantes stopped writing for good.

UPDATE 3: It's been confirmed - Andrei Tarkovsky and Alfred Hitchcock have apparently died as well. I'm not sure if that happened Sunday, Monday or sometime earlier. (Strange, I recently sat through one of Tarkovsky's films and I could've sworn it went on forever. But evidently, he was forced to stop directing the movie at some point.)

I'm also getting word that Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder are not doing well. More on that story as it develops.

UPDATE 4: Michel Serrault, French actor (Diabolique, Joyeux Noël, La Cage aux Folles, Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud), is dead. He passed away of cancer on Sunday, July 29, 2007.

ORIGINAL POST: In my mind, there have always been three Titans of Film: Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman. Federico died in 1993, Kurosawa in 1998, and now the last of the great ones has gone on to that beautiful Cinemateque in the sky. Bergman was 89 and died this morning at his home on the island of Faro.

The Seventh Seal was one of my earliest experiences with foreign film. It was around 1980, and I saw it in a large auditorium classroom on the University of Texas campus. It blew my little 17-year old mind away. I just didn't know cinema could do those kinds of things. Death playing chess with a medieval knight! How cool was that?! Film suddenly seemed like it could reach the great heights of other art forms. The movie remains one of my all-time favorites.

I also love The Magician and Fanny & Alexander.

Good-bye Mr. Bergman. Tack så mycket.


Jeff said...

You beat me to the punch with that one, Cowboy. Bergman was one of the greatest of directors. The Seventh Seal was also the first film of his that I saw. I was a college freshman, taking what I thought was going to be a gut film class (how wrong I was!). I was blown away. The knight playing chess with death, the flagellants, all of it. Very cool. He will be missed.

Steve Caratzas said...

But no mention of media icon Tom Snyder?

Liam said...

May they rest in peace.

I wonder how Goddard would pray his rosary. Would he start with two Hail Marys, then do the second half of the Our Father and then every other word of the Glory Be?

pbwiener said...

Yes, these two greats helped shape my life too. I well remember seeing the 7th Seal (at around age 18), back when we all thought films were "about" something. And they were. "That film was about rejection, innocence, greed, absence, self," etc. Bergman was my first serious date with my high school sweetheart Lyz, at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in NYC. We held hands afterwards while I wondered why she was so clueless at 15; I was too, but more pretensious. Bergman turned pretension into a science. To me was a god, like Leonard Bernstein and Dylan and Schweitzer. I saw Liv Ullman speak a few years ago in Huntington - completely beautiful. To think: a human being, a god, made love to this woman! As for Antonioni, his films are more inscrutable and cynical, but I loved the anyway (La Notte, L'Avventura). Unlike many critics, I thought Zabriskie Point was brilliant, and it still remains one of the few films to capture the desperate radical energy of '60's America. These two artists will always represent two poles of my multi-pole personality: the nihilist and the atheist, and illustrate, for a few hours at a time, the Sisyphean effort light makes in an ever-darkening.

cowboyangel said...

Damn you, Steve, I wrestled over that so much! "Do I or do I not include Tom Snyder? Ah, hell, I can't clog up my post with every famous person who died yesterday."

I do remember him well, though.

cowboyangel said...


You should post anyway on Bergman. I simply don't have time to do him justice.

cowboyangel said...


Marie: Hail Mary, full of Grace -

Le narrateur: Marie wonders if the world is a dream or a dream the world . . .

Marie: The Lord is with Thee

Le narrateur: A few clues for latecomers: Several weeks ago... A pile of money... An English class... A house by the river... A boy with a gun... A romantic young girl... suddenly and mysteriously pregnant

Marie: Blessed art Thou among women and blesed is the fruit

Le narrateur: We now might open a parenthesis on Marie's feelings...

Marie: [Stares blankly]

Le narrateur: But it's all pretty clear. So we close our parenthesis and let the images speak.

Marie: Jesus . . . Jesus . . . Jesus . . . thy womb

Le narrateur: What's that big building? Marie asked JoJo. The Louvre. The whitewash is great, she said. That guy deserves a medal.

JoJo: Holy Mary, Holy Mary, Mother

Marie: of God

JoJo: of God

Le narrateur: JoJo said they'd wait for night to do the job, out of respect for second-rate thrillers. How do we kill all that time? asked Marie. JoJo had read about an American who'd done the Louvre in nine minutes 45 seconds. They'd do better.
[Running through the Louvre]
Le narrateur: Marie and JoJo beat Jimmy Johnson by two seconds.

Marie Pray for us sinners now

JoJo: Now

Marie: Now

JoJo and Marie: Now

Le narrateur: But what is Now. A minute of silence can last a long time... a whole eternity. How long is Now?

JoJo: I don't believe in God. And Mary is His mother.

JoJo and Marie [in bed]: And at the hour of our death . . .

Le narrateur: My story ends here like a dime novel. At a superb moment, when everything is going right. Our next episode, this time in Cinemascope and Technicolor: Marie and JoJo in the tropics.

cowboyangel said...


Great story about your date with Liz. The Seventh Seal as a first date movie. That's like something out of Woody Allen. Where the guy is totally transfixed by the film as the gawky Diane Keaton teenager looks at her beau with a mixture of horror and admiration.

Interesting Pantheon: Bergman, Bernstein, Dylan and Schweitzer.

I saw Liv Ullmann, too, probably around the same time - it was at the NY Film Festival premiere of Faithless. She was amazing. So incredibly intelligent and beautiful and yet unassuming. And, yes, I thought of Bergman. Though not necessarily him making love to her.

I've never connected with Antonioni like I have with other directors of his stature. I'd like to see more of his work, though.

Bergman as an atheist. I'm not convinced. Nobody can talk that much about God or anything else and not have a pretty strong relationship with the subject under discussion.

Liam said...

I went on a first date to David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." Bad idea. First and last date.

Jeff said...


How could you forget about 49ers coach Bill Walsh? That was on the same day as Synder and Bergman.

Another strange example... John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the same day, which happened to fall on the 4th of July.

cowboyangel said...


You took a first date to Mulholland Dr.? No wonder you had problems dating there for a while.

La Reina and I kind of went on a first date to a movie in Madrid. But it wasn't as obviously hip as The Seventh Seal or Mulholland Dr. It was Il Postino. But hey, at least we're still together.

cowboyangel said...


You may be having browser problems (cough), because I did mention Bill Walsh. Go back and read the first of the three Updates - maybe with Firefox? :-)

Adams and Jefferson on July 4, 1826! That's totally bizarre. The 2nd and 3rd presidents on the same Independence Day! Amazing example.

Jeff said...


Sorry about that. I guess I skimmed that rewrite of yours kind of quick. I've been busy over on my blog, you see, trying to prove that Francisco Franco is still dead.

I once brought a first date to The Draughtsman's Contract, because film critic David Brudnoy had spoken highly of it. I wanted to appear sophisticated. It turned out to be quite uncomfortable viewing. I think the young lady was convinced that I was out of my mind.