I would love to start catching up with this famous director, who I have always found fascinating. I also have a teacher at school who told us that he’s a huge fan of his works and that he spent his college years watching all his movies with his friends.
About two weeks ago I watched for the first time ‘The Seventh Seal’ and I quite liked, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t got all the (hidden ?) messages and some other passages. I have to admit that I watched it while I was sick in bed, so my mind wasn’t all that clear.
Which movie do you experts think might be good to start with?
I’ve been always interested in Persona and Cries and Whispers, but I’m a little bit scared.
I wouldn’t call myself an expet, but I think early films like Smiles of a Summer Night are a good place to start. I really enjoyed this film. You can then work your way up to more symbolic works like those you note. But, I suppose you can approach Bergman from any number of directions ; )
Move through his oeuvre chronologically.
The work will not look dated and one can note his style develop.
I thought about starting with the first, simply, but there is also a problem there: I saw some of his first movies, and some of them are a little too melodramatic, and cannot be compared to some of his masterpieces.
I think that “A lesson in love” or “Sawdust and Tinsel” are good places to start: they have already some emotional balance. I actually realy love them.
Then, one day, if you want to understand why he is so acclaimed, you can watch Persona or The Magic Flute or Scenes from a Marriage (some of his works I love the best… not that I know everything he’s done).
@Ursulino ….some of them are a little too melodramatic, and cannot be compared to some of his masterpieces.
Too melodramatic? For me they were nowhere near as melodramatic as his later work – but that would be the point of a chronological survey of his oeuvre – to detect the difference.
When I first have my Bergman, I don’t really have any idea where to start and finding a DVD copy here in my country is hard and luckily I have my first copy of To Joy, one of his early films….It was just simple like any other of his early work…
But I suggest that if you want to watch his work, just watch whatever you feel you want to watch, that is if you have limited resources like me, but I also think that its better to watch his early films to give you a background to his later masterpieces….
And don’t forget to read articles about his films because there are lots!!!!
About Persona and Cries and Whispers, don’t be scared, Bergman is not Lars Von Trier… HAHAHAHA…
His films aren’t exactly wildly different from one another, and quality-wise, they’re all consistently good too, so you can’t really go wrong with whatever you choose to start with. But Dzimas’ reasoning is pretty sound as well, and also the way I did it; going from Smiles of a Summer Night to Saraband and covering all his major works at least in between.
And Cries and Whispers is no less accessible than most of his output; Persona too is no more ‘elusive’ etc a work than the likes of The Seventh Seal.
I don’t think you have to have seen any of Bergman’s work to appreciate Fanny and Alexander. There are also movies that Bergman wrote but had other directors do the films such as The Best Intentions, which can be viewed in relation to F&A. He had pretty much retired by this point. Liv Ullman also directed one of his screenplays, Private Confessions. I haven’t seen this film though.
Thank you for all the answers and the suggestions, I really appreciate it.
I might decide to follow DT’s words, i.e. covering all his major works chronologically (a friend of mine has some Criterions, he gave me The Seventh Seal). But I would like to watch something of the early period, like Crisis or Thirst. How about them?
Yeah, an approach gets confusing once one moves away from chronology – one is left juggling anonymous personal opinions….GL
I personally started with The Silence, and although Bergman’s symbolism is rather hard to understand, this film may be a good start because it shows you what Bergman really is. One important thing to remember: we might not see all the layers in the films, but my opinion is that he wanted us to absorb the meaning, not catch it. Just don’t go through his films without thinking about them afterwards.
I would call myself something of a Bergman connaiseur, and my advice to you is this: Start with “Fanny and Alexander” (the television version!), then move on to “Scenes from a Marriage”, “Autumn Sonata”, “Wild Strawberries”, “The Seventh Seal”, “The Virgin Spring”, “Cries and Whispers” and “Persona”. Then check out the God’s silence- and Fårö-trilogies, and “Smiles of a Summer Night”, “The Magician”, “Brink of Life”, “Sawdust and Tinsel”, “Summer with Monika”, “Saraband”, “Efter repetitionen”. His early films (before 1955) are generally weaker, but I haven’t seen all of them. Some of the mid films that I haven’t mentioned here, are interesting, but lesser works in his oevre (like the famous, but uneven “Face to Face”).
And: I would really recommend Alf Sjöbergs “Torment” (Ingmar Bergmans first film as a screenwriter), and Liv Ullmanns “Faithless” – one of Bergmans most personal statements (like Scenes… and Autumn Sonata).
Marie Nyrerøds documentary is a wonderful introduction to Bergmans universe, by the way.
Nobody seems to talk about HOUR OF THE WOLF much. I’ve always loved that film.
My favorite Bergman is Persona, but that’s the sort of film that needs multiple viewings to fully understand and internalize.
I would disagree with chronology as an appraoch. His earlier films aren’t representative of his work and Fanny and Alexander (One of his later films) might be the most accessible.
Definitely Wild Strawberries, Scenes From A Marriage, Virgin Spring.
I don’t see a point in going back too much further than Sawdust and Tinsel, but many rate Summer Of Monika, so i guess maybe that’s the best place to start.
My Bergman isn’t as big as some here—30+ films-but i’ve seen enough to know what he was about. and if i had to pick my favs, it would look something like this(in alphabetical order):
Cries and Whispers
Fanny and Alexander(t.v)
Scenes From A Marriage(t.v)
The Seventh Seal
Smiles Of A Summer Night
Through A Glass Darkly
The Virgin Spring
Honorable mentions: Sawdust and Tinsel, Shame, Hour Of The Wolf, The Magician, Passion Of Anna, The Magic Flute
I quite liked Saraband but i think it was a little overrated to be honest.
His earlier films aren’t representative of his work.
Disagree, but if they were not representative, that would be worth noting.
One can see Bergman in the very earliest Bergman – raw, but he is there.
I’ve seen 20 Bergman films, he was my first love in cinema.
You’ve already been given great recommendations, so I’m just going to say two things
1) While The Seventh Seal is his most popular film, I would say it’s one of his most un-Bergmanesque. Don’t expect more films like it. While there are similar themes in other films, he never went back to that particular style or feel of narrative and character, with the possible exception of The Virgin Spring.
2) Yes, Fanny and Alexander is five-hours long, but it is worth it.
As you’ve seen Seventh Seal, I would say go to Smiles of a Summer Night and Wild Strawberries, follow with the Trilogy (Through a Glass, Winter Light, and The Silence), then Persona, Cries and Whispers, and Fanny. Does he have more films worth watching?: Oh, yes, LOTS more. But you can fill in the gaps later if you become a true fan.
Michael F.‘s order is pretty spot on.
I would add the Virgin Spring as wel before the Faith Trilogy.
I would also suggest that if you are not getting into his early work, feel free to skip ahead to Fanny and Alexander. That film compared with any of the Director’s early work, will give you a fairly full appreciation of his opus.
Feel the love for Anna Bergman.
Haha, what the hell did you say earlier that got moderated??
Back to the OP: I haven’t seen it, but I hear great things about Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie too.
Of the Bergman films I’ve seen there are two that left me completely unsatisfied
1) Prison (Fängelse, mubi-title is The Devil’s Wanton) from 1949. It is a complete mess. I’ve heard that during production the funding was ripped out from under it and it shows.
2) Face to Face, a mini-series like Scenes and Fanny that was edited for a theatrical release but the television version hasn’t been released yet. The theatrical version feels butchered, but I’m willing to watch the television version if it ever comes out.
“2) Face to Face, a mini-series like Scenes and Fanny that was edited for a theatrical release but the television version hasn’t been released yet. The theatrical version feels butchered, but I’m willing to watch the television version if it ever comes out.”
I liked the theatre version more than you did, I think, but yeah, let’s have the television version (Best Intentions, too).
@ Tonda: I almost put Virgin Spring on my list, but decided it was getting too long. I certainly wouldn’t stop anyone from adding it.
@Dzimas: If you like Best Intentions, Private Confessions is well worth seeking out (although I like Best much more). It’s a worthy sequel. I ended up buying in on a VHS tape because I just had to see.
Does your mom know you are posting that stuff on-line Mark?
More about Face to Face
Ullman’s performance is suberb, I have to admit that.
Does anyone know where to find Bergman’s television recordings of plays? If the Magic Flute is any indication, Bergman must have been a master theater director. I’ve read that he directed plays by Strindberg, O’Neill, Ibsen, even Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Oh, what I would have done to have been in one of those seats!!!