Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bergman, Time and Einstein

There is no doubt that space is warped, that Shakespeare got most of his ideas from Ingmar Bergman, and that Bergman is the far greater artist, with Fanny and Alexander being one of the seminal works of any genre in the history of artistic production or thought. What more can be said about the creator of Winter Lights (besides the God thing, arguably the best essay on men’s true feelings about women’s menses), Through a Glass Darkly, The Silence, and Scenes From a Marriage? Lesser works like Autumn Sonata or The Seventh Seal (which was the subject of a famous Woody Allen parody) are still more profound than most Shakespeare plays. The incest scene in Through a Glass Darkly makes Lear look paltry. Rembrandt’s self-portrait and Homer’s Odysseus pale in comparison to the character portrayed by the great Gunnar Bjornstrand. Oedipus and Gloucester can walk around with their eyeballs plucked out, but it doesn’t compare to the kind of suffering and exorcism prefigured in the astonishing montage at the beginning of Persona. Is there anything in Dante’s Inferno that compares with Shame, in which the filmmaker presents us with corpses floating in his own vision of the river Styx? The Remembrance of Things Past is nice when it comes to memory, but can it really compare to Wild Strawberries, where Bergman really hits the nail of regret on the head? The worst that can be said about Smiles from a Summer Night was that A Little Night Music was based on it. Still, not bad for an early effort. Let’s not forget The Passion of Anna and Cries and Whispers, with its unforgettable equating of the color red to the emotions of its dying character. Every artist has something to learn from the master. One wonders if Gaspar Noe saw The Virgin Spring before filming the famous rape scene in Irreversible.

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