I still remember that saturday afternoon last summer, when I watched the movie Wild Strawberries. The only thing I knew about the movie was that it was in IMDB top 250 and it was a Swedish film. It was the story of the aging professor Isak Borg - his coldness, his reflections on life, his insecurities, fears and nightmares. It was unlike any movie I had seen till then. If you ask me if I loved the film, I am not yet sure. But, it was something so very different, that it made me think and I could not get it off my head. Then, I got to know about the man behind the movie called Ingmar Bergman.
The next movie I happened to see was his most revered The Seventh Seal. It was a weird movie about a knight who, on his journey through the lands affected by Plague, is confronted by Death who forces him to play chess with him. It did not impress me much and I felt it was a highly over rated movie.
It was when I saw Persona that I was completely bowled over by Bergman. It would be an understatement to say that this black n white movie was very captivating. The mind games played by the actress and the nurse was so surreal, I was left wondering if the drama was taking place in that hospital/island or in my mind. That whole week I was in the Persona hangover.
I followed it up with the very under rated The Silence. Its a story of the emotional turmoil between two sisters - a very symbolic clash of different value systems, masterfully picturized by Bergman and it happens to be my most favorite among his movies. The red-white color combination will always remind me of Cries & Whispers, though very dragging at times, a visually appealing movie. His other non-abstract films which I have seen are - the tense mother daughter union in Autumn Sonata (dont you think its such a beautiful name?), with a brilliant Ingrid Bergman (this movie is the inspiration to the Urmila-Shabana-Diya starrer Tehzeeb!), the teenage passionate affair Summer With Monica, with a very natural Harriet Anderrson oozing raw sensuality, a very depressing almost voyeuristically directed marriage saga Scenes From A Marriage.
If you ask me if Bergman tops my favorite list, I would say no. If any of his movies makes my favorite top 20, it would again be no. Most of his movies are too weird or abstract - that I sometimes feel if he had any concrete script in the first place. But, the affection with which he creates a scene is hard to match. The intensity in his movies is almost frightening. Coincidentally, my other favorite Woody Allen happens to be the biggest fan of Bergman. And nobody can be as depressing as Bergman and I always recommend my friends not to see more than a Bergman movie per week. I still have some movies of Bergman in my "Yet to watch" list. Hope I will see them soon.
Ingmar Bergman passed away yesterday and I felt like writing about him. Thank you Mr. Bergman for giving us those wonderful movies.