Bergman 100

 

New Restorations!

The Cinematheque joins film institutions around the world in celebrating the 2018 centenary of Ingmar Bergman, one of the cinema’s pantheon talents and, arguably, one of the 20th century’s most important artists.

Bergman (1918-2007) stands as a central figure in cinema both for his achievement as a filmmaker and for the impact he had on global film culture. His works played a crucial part in the explosion of interest in international and art-house cinema, in the growing appreciation of film as a serious art form, that spread around the world in the 1960s and early 1970s. As the American critic Richard Corliss observed, “For a lot of us, the discovery of Ingmar Bergman in the late ’50s was as exciting as the arrival of The Beatles would be a few years later. Suddenly we could see the difference between movies and film, between the Hollywood product we assimilated like hamburgers and the haute cuisine food-for-thought of European cinema.”

Bergman, born in Uppsala, Sweden, to a Lutheran clergyman and a nurse, was fascinated from an early age by both theatre and film. A key childhood memory recounted by Bergman had the future director, bitterly disappointed at receiving a teddy bear for Christmas, trading a hundred tin soldiers to his older brother for the gift he really wanted: a cinematograph, or small projector.

Bergman began a prolific professional career in theatre (as a director) and cinema (initially as a screenwriter) shortly after leaving university, and directed his first feature film, Crisis, in 1945. His international breakthrough came with his 16th feature, Smiles of a Summer of Night, a hit at Cannes in 1956. A remarkable string of successes (and masterpieces) followed in short order: The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly et al. With Persona, The Shame, The Passion of Anna, Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, and other notable works, Bergman retained his status as one of film’s defining artists through the 1960s and 1970s, before announcing his “farewell” to cinema (although it proved not to be, exactly) with 1982’s Fanny & Alexander, his 40th feature.

Bergman’s cinema is of astonishing depth, breadth, and variety, and defies easy summary, but is notable for several chief reasons: its exploration of the inner life and the fundamental questions of human existence, including our search for meaning, truth, and God; the remarkable work by Bergman’s stock company of performers (he was one of cinema’s greatest directors of actors); the profound sympathy for female characters and rare insight into female psychology (some justified feminist caveats notwithstanding, Bergman ranks as one of cinema’s foremost “women’s directors”); the uncompromising dissection of male-female relationships; and Bergman’s accomplishment as a visual stylist, with a flair for surreal, dream-like, often nightmarish imagery. Indeed, for all the austerity and angst and metaphysical torment typically (and not inappropriately) associated with Bergman, films such as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Stardust and Tinsel, The Magician, Hour of the Wolf, and Fanny and Alexander are as rich, visually and thematically, as anything in cinema.

And there is also in Bergman, as A Lesson in Love, Smiles of a Summer Night, and other films demonstrate, a considerable vein of comedy. Godard, a Bergman admirer, wrote in the 1950s: “That which is unpredictable is profound, and a new Bergman film frequently confounds the warmest partisans of the preceding one. One expects a comedy, and along comes a medieval mystery.” Of course, as Bergman’s reputation as a Serious Artist grew in the 1960s, one was much more likely to expect, and Bergman to deliver, an intense chamber piece on the resounding silence of God!

Beginning March 8 and continuing through 2018, The Cinematheque pays tribute to the legacy of this singular and superlative film artist with a major retrospective of his work. Most films will screen in new restorations created by the Swedish Film Institute for the worldwide celebration of Bergman’s 100-year jubilee.

 

Click for film notes + showtimes

Current Showings

Early evidence of Bergman’s skill at comedy is found in this anthology-like film, a project designed to showcase some of Sweden's best actresses.
New Hollywood icon Elliott Gould co-stars in Bergman’s first English-language film, which divided critics and remains underappreciated today.
Roberto Rossellini’s Italian neorealism and Marcel Carné’s French poetic realism are pronounced influences on Bergman’s moody, gritty drama.
Bergman becomes Bergman with the lyrical Summer Interlude, his first major critical success and, arguably, first mature work.
Ingmar Bergman’s first film with actress Liv Ullmann is a certifiable masterpiece and a key work of modernist cinema.
Bergman followed up the masterful “modernist horror” of Persona with a horror film proper.
“One of Bergman's greatest films” (Pauline Kael), The Shame is a devastating dystopian drama set in an unnamed country in the throes of civil war.
Bergman’s psychosexual chamber drama is a nightmarish exploration of artistic responsibility (and humiliation).
Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” provides the title and central musical motif of Bergman’s semi-autobiographical eighth feature.
Bergman’s fifteenth feature is an enjoyable work in a trademark mode: the insightful, well-acted “women’s picture.”

Recent Showings

One of Ingmar Bergman’s pinnacle works is an intensely moving, highly lyrical drama of affirmation and reconciliation.
Bergman’s belated international breakthrough is a sophisticated comedy of sexual manners — and among his best and most influential works.
Bergman's career began with this melodramatic tale of a woman torn between two mothers and between small-town security and big-city seductions.
Nothing is quite as it seems in Bergman’s mesmerizing, metaphysical film, a semi-comic, high-gothic period piece.
Bergman's second colour work, stunningly shot by Sven Nykvist, is a characteristic study of human isolation and pain, enacted by an ensemble cast.
Bergman’s first documentary feature offers a fond look at his beloved Fårö, the remote Swedish island in the Baltic Sea where he made his home.
Ten years after his original documentary about life on Fårö, Bergman visited again with the film’s subjects to see where fortune had taken them.
The first entry in Bergman's “Faith” trilogy features Harriet Andersson as a schizophrenic woman summering on an isolated island.
The silence of God resounds with a deafening, despairing clarity in Bergman’s masterfully austere middle work in the "Faith" trilogy.
Bergman took great risks with this sexually frank, formally daring drama, one of his most controversial works.
A pompous music critic tries to write a biography of a famous cellist in Bergman's romping farce, his first film in colour.
This warm, witty sex farce has Bergman regular Gunnar Björnstrand as a jaded gynaecologist involved in an extramarital affair with a patient.
Bergman’s very modern meditation on our search for meaning is one of cinema’s most famous (and parodied) works.
A sensuous, admirably unsentimental tale of young love, this highpoint of early Bergman was revered by the talents of the French New Wave.
The circus serves as the arena for a savage dissection of male-female sexual relations in the dark, fantastical film.
Bergman's follow-up to The Virgin Spring is an ironic, stylized, self-consciously theatrical comic fantasy.
Bergman won the first of his three Foreign Language Film Oscars with this powerful drama of faith and vengeance.
Bergman’s Cannes-fêted follow-up to the one-two punch of The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries is now little-known.