Tears Dry On Their Own
News of Ingmar Bergman's demise dominated my news radar yesterday. My immediate impulse was to blog about the passing of this great film-maker from Sweden. At the same time, I felt there was nothing I could add to the many nice things said about him. (Just do a search on any decent search site and you'll see what I mean if all this has passed you by like a puffy summer cloud.)
While acknowledging his artistic prowess, I must confess that I'm not really a big fan of Bergman; mostly because none of his films have marked my life in a significant way. This is not to say that I don't like the films of Ingmar Bergman. Far from it. I showed his Persona to my students just a few months ago. It is a very beautiful and disturbing film. The Seventh Seal is undoubtedly on my personal Top 100 Films list. I've seen two or three other films by Bergman, but while I can honestly say that watching his movies is a treat, its not the sort of thing I go out of my way regularly to experience. I don't know why that is. It's just the way things are with me, I guess.
What's for sure is that artists like Bergman are not able to start out doing what he did nowadays. Art making has changed considerably in the last half a century...and that's an understatement, if there ever was one. So to cherish the work of Ingmar Bergman is to appreciate a master at work on an art form that has evolved and mutated or matured (depending on your point of view) almost beyond recognition, from the perspective of budding film-makers.
And now, just this morning, news of Michelangelo Antonioni's death makes me think that the great architect of the universe is organizing a conference of great film-makers in the great beyond.
Unlike Bergman's films, Antonioni's work has left a very indelible mark on my personal artistic sensibility. I am not only referring to the obvious mammoth influence he exerted through the era of Italian neo-realism, even if that aesthetic is one that's very close to my heart. Two of Antonioni's films are among the reasons why I love film. I refer to the two works he made between 1966 and 1970: Blowup and Zabriskie Point. Between them, these two films capture the essence in some of London and California's beautiful and ugly sites of what was later celebrated as "the sixties". What's real and what appears to be real are obviously not the same thing. Antonioni's films are a great place to contemplate this.
When you live as long as Bergman (89) and Antonioni (94) did, and produce the sort of art works they did, it's hardly difficult to say that while they will be missed they lived a good life.