While focusing on Bresson in an answer to a question about learning film-making from apprenticeship, Sokurov said of Bergman, “From the point of view of morality, Bergman mastered cinema more than anyone, but from the point of view of creating a cinema language, Bresson’s contribution was no less important than Eisenstein’s.” http://sokurov.info/?id=1225965671
What did he mean by “from the point of view of morality”?
Morality here might portend the French meaning: something from the heart
Cinema language might mean the ‘visual’.
Sokurov is merely repeating conventional wisdom regarding Bergman’s approach, which does have a basis in ex-screen fact. According to Sven Nykvist, Bergman left the visualization up to Nykvist.
Nonetheless, Nykvist is considered by many in the industry to be one of the world’s greatest cinematographers. (IMDB)
The on-screen visuals are comparable to anything Bresson did, imo.
There is an interesting documentary showing Bresson yelling at his DP because the guy couldn’t get the framing correct. From that approach, one could see how involved Bresson was with the visualization process.
If that is where Sokurov is coming from, we have knowledge NOT derived from direct perception, but conclusions drawn from lore.
“he on-screen visuals are comparable to anything Bresson did, imo.”
arguably better too imo. i.e The Silence etc.
But it’s true that Bresson is more crucial to the development of film language than Bergman. I just prefer Bergman’s style. a personal preference. although i love Bresson too.
perhaps by morality he is alluding to the unwavering commitment Bergman demonstrated towards exploring the problems of living and existence in his work throughout his entire career?
“Morality here might portend the French meaning: something from the heart”
Earlier in that interview, Sokurov says that their can be no new art, only a new sincerity, so yeah, I think that’s the realm he’s speaking of, from beyond mere aesthetics.
Cross-reference Sokurov on Father and Son:
“Relations of blood are eternal… To try to distance yourself from your father should be a crime… there is no other object here than improving the morals, making us kinder.”
“If film as art exists, then the real problem resides in optics. The camera lens is an immense reproach to the film director. It points to the dubious nature of the artistic result and, really, the very process of filmmaking. The picture created by an optical device possesses a high degree of objectivity; at the same time, it’s monstrously subjective. This conflict is a real tragedy for film. Aesthetics comes down to seeing a good-looking picture on the screen. This beauty, however, has been created essentially by neither the director nor the cameraman but rather by the frozen liquid of optical glass . . .The question is whether we need a three-dimensional space at all. The development of pictorial art reposes on the artist’s understanding of the flat surface as a canon, an objective reality that should not be fought. Filmmakers treat it as a void that has to be filled—an absolutely ridiculous practice. If you accept this canon, however, it leads to a system of restrictions that allow you to concentrate on the main matter, the moral dimension.”
Yeah, it is a cultural thing too, where Americans think of morality only as right or wrong.
Also, Sokurov seems to be comparing Bergman’s ‘what’ with Bresson’s ‘how’.
I have a hard time believing Bergman didn’t have a say in the visualization of his films, or rather that he left it entirely up to Nykvist.
Here’s one possible explanation: Nykvist in 1984 -
“With Bergman how the scene must look, the atmosphere, and the weather were written into the script.”
Thanks for this quote. It helps explain a lot about Bergman (and storybased limitations in his work).
I just think Sokurov was noting the strong points of each director. With Bergman, his films were about raising moral points and having his actors play out these emotions. It wasn’t as though Sokurov was saying Bergman wasn’t cognisant of the other aspects of filmmaking.
and i think it’s interesting how much Sokurov rated Bergman too, esp considering how different their film making styles are.
Not that you can’t appreciate the work of others, but Bergman’s films are so talky, whereas Sokurov is more about the image.
Have you seen Faust? You have to know German to follow the dialog as the subtitles cascade on the screen. I had to watch it twice just to pick up most of the dialog. No harm done : )
^^nah, haven’t seen it yet Dzimas.
i’m thinking of taking a risk and picking it up in the next week when i order Casa De Lava from amazon.uk
Worth the risk, Joks. Very interesting interpretation of the Faustian bargain with Sokurov’s trademark close-ups and virtually continual movement. I really enjoyed it!
^^How does it compare to the other films of his you have seen? Top or middle?
He is hit and miss, but i like plenty of his films, and his misses don’t fall in the ‘oh this is another typical Sokurov film’ category either.
Even at his worst he is at least interesting.