Friday, March 9, 2018

Through a Glass Darkly

It has often been said that love involves a temporary madness. It’s a little like Midsummer Night’s Dream where the world is turned upside down in order to produce the kinds of idealizations and distortions which allow individuals to fall for each other. Once the dreamer wakes up, he or she will either find that the legacy of passion turns out to be a relationship or merely a one-night stand. The creative process like love also depends on a temporary madness, if only because the artist like Orpheus must descend in to the underworld to find his Eurydice. Ingmar Bergman is a case in point. Bergman was probably the greatest artist of his time, arguably greater than Picasso, Joyce, Eliot or any of the other modernists, due to innovations he brought to his chosen form, cinema, and to the profundity of his insights in to the human condition and in particular human kind’s tortured search for divinity. He was the Shakespeare of the twentieth century. But what was the price that had to be paid? From all accounts Bergman was not someone most people would have liked to have known more or less to be involved with romantically or any other way. Through a Glass Darkly, currently in revival at Film Forumtells the story of the siblings of a novelist, who is an absent father. Incest and insanity constitute the film’s major themes. If we assume that the film has some autobiographical elements (it was shot on Faro, the island where Bergman lived), it’s plain that the director had no reticence about exploiting the very misery he himself had something to do with creating.

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