Monday, July 30, 2007

Adieu to Bergman

Ingmar Bergman died today. For an appreciation and coverage, see this page:

By Mike Gillis

Ingmar Bergman saved me from Wes Craven. That may be a little disingenuous, since I do admire some of Craven's work, but Bergman came into my life at a time when I believed special effects were the only way to make a movie. I was experimenting with the camera and actors, but hadn't been exposed to much cinema beyond horror and science fiction. And then a friend sat me down and popped in a VHS of Bergman's "The Magician."

I distinctly remember watching wide-eyed, in rapture that a story with supernatural overtones could be crafted so thoughtfully and dare to shift the focus to its characters and ask questions about morality, science, religion and politics. These are themes threaded throughout Bergman's work, of course, but watching them solidify in "the Magician" thankfully derailed me. It put me on a quest for more, much more, which certainly led to Bergman again, but opened the door wide to a new world of cinema.

I found Akira Kurosawa and Jean Renoir, but I also discovered John Cassavetes, Sam Fuller and even Woody Allen.

My quest hit one interesting milestone when, years later, I realized that Wes Craven essentially remade "The Virgin Spring" as "The Last House on the Left." It was an important discovery because it bridged my early moviegoing habits with the new world of cinema that had so enraptured it me. In a way, it suggested that even those B-grade films and filmmakers who first inspired me to be a filmmaker had also likely taken a journey similar to mine.

Thank you, Ingmar Bergman.