Greatness has Left the Planet: Ingmar Bergman dies
My Obituary for Bergman when he died (July 2007--he was born July 1918). It gives a general summary of his major films and his style and focuses on his greatest film, "The Seventh Seal." Bermgan is my very favorite director and "the Seventh Seal" is my very Favorite Film (along with "Wild Strawberries"). There are film critics who argue that is the greatest film ever made and I agree completely! This film Bergman's first major international success (1857).
Bergman is my favorite director, though he was an atheist his father was accomplished minister and Chaplin to the Queen of Sweden. Bergman deals whit religion in many of his films, he is not a mocking ridicule artist but deal sensitively with it and openly confronts his struggles over it and his desire for God and his desire for truth. Even though he did not believe in God he demonstrates a lot of sympathy perhaps even envy for the believer.
The Seventh Seal
Wild Strawberries (1957)
Released the same year as Seventh Seal this is my second favorite (sometimes first) film. It reinforced the image of Bergman as the greatest international director of his time. It's not a Rambo movie, there no explosions are car chases. On the Surface it sounds real boring, and old professor and daughter-in-law take a road trip across Sweden as he goes to receive an honorary degree as a life-time achievement award. The professor also takes an emotional journey in his mind from childhood to present reflecting upon how his life has gone. It's an existential classic. It's boring if you can only related to adventure movies but it's pleasant and thoughtful. It has provocative dream sequences that figure into the plot.
The Virgin Spring (1960)
This was a follow up to the two previous films, it is also one of Bergman's greatest. Coming on the heals of the other two it established him as the greatest director of his time. It's based upon the story by a Swedish writer and might be based upon a folk tale. Set in the middle ages and deals with the murder of a girls and her father's revenge.
Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
This is the first in his trilogy. The three films Bergman made as his great Trilogy which were supposed to deal openly with the problems of religion and belief were "Through a Glass Darkly", "Winter Light," and "The Silence." Unfortuantely none of these were his among his greatest films. In my view if one complied trilogy of the three greatest films he made it would be those three listed above.
This film is about a woman's mental illness and struggles with God and her father.
Winter Light (1963)
Second in Bergman's trilogy. This film is rarely reviewed. I have been told I'm the only one some people can find who really reviewed it. I feel it's a great film and I tell you why in the review. It's the one that most directly takes on the problem of belief in God of any of his films.
Two films by Robert Bresson: Balthazar and Country Priest
Mochette by Robert Bresson
Ordet by Carl Dreyer
Danish director Drayer was Bergman's older contemporary and probalby his inspiration. He's a lot like a Danish Bergman. Best known for his silent films such as Joan of Arch. Ordet was is only financial success among his sound films. It is also one of greatest critical successes.
Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)
Here I turn to my second favorite director the Bergman of Japan. Kurosawa was trained in private military academy before world war II and thus part of his education was training with a sword as the old Smarai were trained. As a film maker he directed a slew of bloody Samurai films, for which he was very famous all over Asia. These were the Westerns are for us, like the cowboy movies of Japan. The most famous of his Samurai films is "the Seven Samurai" which was the prototype for the American Western "the Magnificent Seven."
"Roshaimon" is a profound existential film. It is set n the Samurai period and invovles a Samurai duel but it's not really a Samurai movie and is not very bloody. Its' an existential thriller that imparts to the view a profound moral discussion that rivals the book of Job for its moving philosophical reflections upon the human condition.
The Shoes of the Fisherman
Vittorio De Sica (July 7, 1901-Nov 13, 1974)
This is my third favorite director, Italian born he began his film career before WWII as a romantic lead. He began to direct about the time the war broke out. The established himself as a direction of International repute with the Bicycle thieves (1848). This remains his greatest film in my opinion. Among his other greats, perhaps his greatest films are "Miracle in Milan" which is credited with inspiring the scene in ET where he's flying on the Bicycle and and "Umberto D." The Shoes of the Fisherman (1960s) is about the first non Italian pope (over a decade before JPII) who is played by Anthony Quinn and is a Russian and is called upon to deal with the forces of Communism and world hunger.
Woman in the Dunes
Hiroshi Teshigahara's brilliant 1964 Sisyphan metaphor.
American Films that I consider to be artistically great
Sansho The Bailiff Director:Kenji Mizoguchi