A slew of Swedish classics

The cinematheques pay tribute to Ingmar Bergman.

By
February 14, 2018 20:07
3 minute read.
A slew of Swedish classics

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007), Swedish stage and film director, and Ingrid Thulin (1926-2004), actress. Photo: During the production of The Silence (Tystnaden), 1963. Svensk Filmindustri (SF) press photo, Photographer unknown.. (photo credit: SVENSKA FILMINSTITUTET VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The year 2018 marks the centennial of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, and it is being marked around Israel by a retrospective organized by the Jerusalem Cinematheque, with the assistance of Ingmar Bergman Foundation and the Swedish Film Institute. The retrospective will begin on February 19 and will take place at the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Holon and Herzilya cinematheques throughout February and March.

All these films will be shown with subtitles in English and Hebrew.

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Bergman, who died in 2007, was one of the most acclaimed and influential directors of all time, as well as one of the most imitated.

His movies examine themes of love, death, religious faith and its loss, aging and betrayal, and combine a literary sensibility with a stunning visual imagination. His partnership with cinematographer Sven Nyquist produced some of the most haunting, beautiful images in screen history. He worked extraordinarily well with actresses such as Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson and Ingrid Bergman.

The iconic images and memorable moments from these films have inspired generations of filmmakers. Woody Allen’s early, funny movies, for example, wouldn’t be the same without his Bergman jokes and references, especially in Love and Death. Other filmmakers who consider Bergman an important influence include Martin Scorsese, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Michael Haneke and Ang Lee. Bergman’s work has also had an impact on the theater and visual art.

This month’s program is just the first of a three-part retrospective.

From May to August, Bergman’s films of the 1950s and 1960s will be shown. The films Bergman made during this era are his most celebrated. They include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955); The Seventh Seal (1957); Wild Strawberries (1957); and Persona (1966).

In the fall, a program will showcase his later works.

This first program features movies from early in his career, which are rarely shown and will be new to all but the most dedicated Bergman admirers. It opens with Crisis (1946), Bergman’s directorial debut. It tells the story of Nelly, a small-town young woman who was adopted. When her biological mother comes back into her life, Nelly moves to the big city and falls for Jack, her mother’s attractive but untrustworthy suitor.

It Rains on Our Love (1946) is about a man who was recently released from prison. At the central train station, he meets an aspiring actress who has just found out she is pregnant. They are drawn together as the two of them struggle against a hostile world.

A Ship to India (1947) is a family drama that examines several of Bergman’s favorite themes, including the cruelty of a patriarch and the difficulty of trusting even those closest to you. It tells the story of Captain Blom, who treats his hunchback son Johannes with cruelty and contempt. The conflict between them comes to a head when Blom brings Sally, a taxi dancer, on board the ship and Johannes falls for her.

The 1948 film Music in the Darkness is about a blind young man who marries a poor woman.

They struggle for acceptance and fight their isolation and loneliness.

Port of Call (1948) tells the story of a suicidal factory worker who gets out reform school and, anxious to escape her overbearing mother, falls in love with a sailor who can’t ignore her checkered past. This film explores the frightening internal world of a person suffering from mental illness, a theme Bergman revisited in such later masterpieces as Through a Glass Darkly and Persona.

Thirst (1949) looks at a married couple as they travel home by train and explore their memories and conflicts. It’s a subject that Bergman would return to again and again — perhaps most famously in Scenes from a Marriage. It’s also something he knew about firsthand, since he was married and divorced five times, and also had a long-term relationship with Liv Ullmann and fathered nine children, several of whom became actors, directors and writers.


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