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Ingmar Bergman

Posted at 9:20 AM on July 30, 2007 by Euan Kerr

So now we have lost Bergman too. The news of Ingmar Bergman's death at 89 seems a personal loss somehow, perhaps because of the way his films reach in and become a part of the viewer's psyche.

I remember first stumbling across Bergman when British television showed "Persona" late one night. The story of an actress who has broken down on stage (Liv Ullman) and her nurse (Bibi Andersson) is both intimate and deeply troubling as the line blurs between the two women and it becomes unclear who is whom. It is the kind of film that sits in the back of you mind for days, and now as I write this, it seems years too.

And then of course there is "Wild Strawberries" Bergmans 1957 film following a professor looking back on his life. It's a quiet story of memory and longing for what might have been, which ends with a gentle understanding that sometimes what is, just is. Again a film that sits with you for a long time.

Bergman made about 50 movies during his career which also included a parallel track in the theater. Everyone will have their favorites, and I still have the pleasure ahead of watching many I have yet to see.

Over the years I was lucky enough to meet two of Bergman's great collaborators, Liv Ullman and his cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Both were reluctant to talk about him much other than to say Ingmar was Ingmar, and if you wanted him to explain things it was best just to ask him yourself.

Which of course now we can't do. He was one of the greats, and the world is a little poorer for his passing.

July 2007
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