Even if you’re utterly clueless about Ingmar Bergman’s work, you’ve at least seen something that the Swedish director directly or partially influenced. Whether it’s The Lighthouse from Robert Eggers, The Tragedy of Macbeth from Joel Coen, or Fight Club from David Fincher, Bergman’s influence is exceptionally prevalent.
It’s challenging to misjudge the impact that Bergman’s films have had on individuals, especially in the filmmaking community. Nevertheless, I thought it’d be interesting to discuss the iconic filmmaker and some primary points of what makes his films so memorable. Though these aren’t the only reasons to consider viewing a Bergman film, I feel they are strong points to consider.
Every Bergman film I viewed has a vital location that’s mesmerizing to view. For example, the island home of Through a Glass Darkly promotes a sense of isolation, making it easy for Karin to slip away from validity. It’s the perfect spot for someone to believe God is visiting them, only for the story to wrap up in questions throughout.
Then there’s the iconic chess scene of The Seventh Seal where Jöns is joined by Death for a game. The stills from the film are rampant throughout film Twitter, and rightfully so. Every shot is riddled like a hand-painted art piece, giving us a sense of astonishment impossible to accomplish.
The distinction between reality, memory, and what’s real is commonplace throughout Bergman’s films. Though some discuss what memory and reality are more so than others, it makes for a fascinating discussion to analyze the matter. It typically centers around a challenging topic of conversation, such as Karin’s mental illness in Through a Glass Darkly.
It begs the question of what Bergman is questioning in his films? Is it a focus on the possibility of a deity, internalized fear, or wondering what’s to come? The analysis of a specific Bergman film is an entirely separate conversation, walking that fine line of what a dream is compared to a real-life experience.
What is Meaning
The search for meaning is a typical movie motif that largely came to life from Italian Neorealism and The French New Wave. Bergman’s films up the anty, whether it’s a surrealist piece in Persona or the supposedly happy couple in Scenes from a Marriage.
The persevering force of Bergman’s directing lies in the way that even the savviest or most serious of subjects (mortality, questioning, aging, or faith) can be taken care of with humor, softness, and a talented hand in his films. What is meaning? That’s up to the audience, with Bergman walking us along the way.
What I Recommend From Ingmar Bergman
Though I haven’t gotten a chance to view every Ingmar Bergman film, the ones I have seen genuinely changed my life. I hope to view all 49-feature-length Bergman films eventually. Nevertheless, below are a few essentials from Bergman that every film fanatic or aspiring filmmaker should view at least once in their life.
Through a Glass Darkly (1961) – Recently released from a mental hospital, Karin rejoins her emotionally disconnected family in their island home, only to slip from reality as she believes she is being visited by God.
Persona (1966) – A nurse is in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personae are melding together.
The Seventh Seal (1957) – A knight returning to Sweden after the Crusades seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
Scenes From a Marriage (1974) – Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners.