The New Yorker:
This year marks the centenary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman, and, for any New Yorkers keen to pay homage, the journey starts now. Over the next five weeks, starting on Thursday with “The Seventh Seal” (1957), Film Forum will be showing forty-seven films. One of Bergman’s most appealing traits is that, though the mood of his movies could be famously difficult and fraught, they poured forth in generous profusion, as if he could hardly help himself, and knew no other release. He dreamed, drew, pondered, probed, and agonized on film, and what resulted, more often than not, bore the grip of a thriller and the elegance of a waltz. If you wish to be reminded of what the medium can do, or if you doubt the depths that lurk beneath the flat skin of celluloid, waiting to be fathomed, Bergman is your man.
Not the least of the pleasures, for anyone with the stamina for the complete retrospective, will be the chance to make connections. As the flighty heroine of “Dreams” (1955), for instance, Harriet Andersson explores a row of gramophone records in the house of an ageing roué, plucks one out, and reads the label aloud, saying “Saraband” and “Bach” (which she pronounces “batch”). For a second, our minds are spirited forward to “Cries and Whispers” (1972), in which the mournful saraband, a movement from Bach’s fifth cello suite, is heard during a scene of reconciliation—as it is, once again, during one of Bergman’s final works, made for Swedish television in 2003, and simply titled “Saraband.” In both cases, Liv Ullmann, another of Bergman’s indispensable performers, is onscreen as the music plays. You want one more link? The role of the woman who dies, of cancer, in “Cries and Whispers” is played by Harriet Andersson. All these movies pass each other in orbit, sometimes decades apart. The more of them you observe, in wonder, the greater their gravitational pull.
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