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Ingmar Bergman

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Andrei Tarkovsky  •  Carl Theodor Dreyer  •  Woody Allen

Year Title Rating
1946 Crisis 6/10
1946 >>It Rains on Our Love .../...
1947 >>A Ship Bound for India .../...
1948 >>Port of Call .../...
1949 >>Thirst .../...
1949 >>Prison .../...
1950 >>To Joy .../...
1951 >>Summer Interlude .../...
1952 Secrets of Women 6/10
1953 Summer with Monika 5/10
1953 Sawdust and Tinsel 6.5/10
1954 A Lesson in Love 6.5/10
1955 Smiles of a Summer Night 7/10
1955 >>Dreams .../...
1957 The Seventh Seal 8.5/10
1957 Wild Strawberries 7/10
1958 The Magician 5.5/10
1958 Brink of Life 7/10
1960 The Virgin Spring 7/10
1960 The Devil's Eye 6/10
1961 Through a Glass Darkly 7.5/10
1963 Winter Light 7/10
1963 The Silence 7.5/10
1964 >>All These Women .../...
1966 Persona 9.5/10
1968 Hour of the Wolf 7.5/10
1968 Shame 8/10
1969 The Rite 5/10
1969 The Passion of Anna 7/10
1972 Cries and Whispers 6.5/10
1973 Scenes from a Marriage 7.5/10
1975 >>The Magic Flute .../...
1976 Face to Face 7/10
1977 >>The Serpent's Egg .../...
1978 Autumn Sonata 8/10
1980 >>Fårö Document 1979 .../...
1980 From the Life of the Marionettes 5.5/10
1982 Fanny and Alexander 7/10
1984 >>After the Rehearsal .../...
1996 >>Private Confessions .../...
1997 >>In the Presence of a Clown .../...
2000 >>Faithless .../...
2003 >>Saraband .../...
2012 Dheeraj Akolkar - Liv & Ingmar 7/10

Review last updated: May 6, 2017


Ingmar Bergman was a genius. He was the original master of despair, the wizard of neuroses and emotional trauma. His works are inscribed with real wisdom of both romantic and family relationships. He had an empathy with women, and realistic, sympathetic, and powerful women's roles, especially for the time. Bergman was originally a theater director. His experience directing theater flowered magnificently and influentially in the film world, which was in its adolescence. He is known for mastering the intimate style of filmmaking, using long takes, and deeply focused unbroken shots. To summarize his career: Bergman's '50s films were his most accessible, they were traditionally-made, and very romantic, with a young, optimistic view of relationships (even with a lurking realism and tangible depression). His '60s films were wildly artistic, very bold and confrontational, and especially challenging for the time period (though his perceptive native Swedish audiences were clever enough to appreciate). This is my favorite era of Ingmar Bergman. His '70s films were more family and marriage-oriented, but still featured stark emotional realism.

The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet) is the work that transformed Bergman from an accessible, insecure romance filmmaker into an existential provocateur. Watching this film feels like the voice of God is booming down to you from the clouds, but you accidentally figure out there is no God and that voice is some guy with a megaphone. It's when you're told to listen to the church, that's claiming that prayer will stop the plague epidemic, only to learn that members of the congregation are infected and dying. It's the exploration of humanity's most frightened, yet inspired superstitions, and the acknowledgement of the unknowing the void presents. This film will always be relevant, it will always be emotional, and it will always be challenging. Death is a universal human condition, and viewers among brows high and low will be compelled and terrified. Please soak in this film, and let it disturb and provoke you as deeply as it can.

Death being personified is a millennia-old tradition in iconography, just like the universe is personified (God). It's humans' fickle imaginations trying to picture enormous, unanswerable, unknowable abstract concepts, as just guys, happy people that love you and want to hang out. That's the only thing that really makes sense in the human mind. I adore this film's crushing (or attempted crushing) of the fragile illusions that the comfort of organized religion provide.

Through a Glass Darkly

Through a Glass Darkly (SÃ¥som i en Spegel) is one of the most emotionally accurate, painstakingly sympathetic, and perfectly accessible portrayals of mental illness. It illustrates the emotional turmoils of being in love with someone who's mind is working against them. I think this film is especially important in the 21st century, when everyone has a diagnosis and everyone's at risk of triggering each other and themselves. The afflicted woman Karin is perfectly aware and lucid for days, and it may seem like on the outside and inside, that she is cured and recovered. But she is just as susceptible to madness as she always was.


I believe Persona to be the most important film ever made, a flawless and hypnotic indecipherable poem, an infinitely-ambiguous fable. It is objectively one of the most influential films ever made, and probably the most influential. The summary of my interpretation of Persona follows: The relationship between Alma and Elisabet is symbolic of one's relationship with oneself. Elisabet's muteness makes her a human mirror, so Alma can project whatever feelings she wants to onto her. Alma feels what she wants to feel. A person can go from loving oneself to hating oneself in a matter of minutes, and the self is incapable of responding, or even reacting. It makes you think about how you treat yourself, and how other people treat themselves.

This film violently attacks the viewer's identity (or at least perception of the concept of identity) and hands it to them, it asks the viewer "Is this really who you are? Is this really what you think of yourself?" This film is especially prophetic as a gateway to art cinema. One of the many lessons from Persona is that your emotional state and subconscious mind are vulnerable to feelings, events, and attachments, even relationships, without your conscious mind even knowing why or to what affect. This is how you can watch a film like this and go "Uhh, what just happened? I don't get it." and still feel like your heart is breaking. You don't have to "get" Persona because it's not something to "get", it's not an objective idea to make sense of. Instead, you feel Persona, you get attached to it, you get mad at it, you fall in love with it, and out of love with it. You don't have to "get" anything.

I also get a lot of Jungian messages making me think of the collective unconscious (or at least my feeble understanding of it). It takes a powerful film like this one to show you that Self is an illusion. We try to place labels on ourselves to keep our identities secure, when such a thing is as fluid as water, and even more impressionable. There's no point in having friends, or enemies, or inventing any kind of isolating mental device for yourself, when pretty much everyone is the same. Your life is the same as everyone else's even if it doesn't feel like it.