The ultimate Bergman film for me has to be The Seventh Seal. Perhaps because it was the first film of his that I saw, but like with what Tom Wilson said above, I think people forget how amazing the film is with its canonical stature (and thus inevitably leading to impossible expectations/lack of surprise and awe in its viewing). Obviously, as with the other posts, there are several Bergman films that could be argued his greatest (many of which I haven’t seen yet). That said, here’s my rankings of the films I’ve seen of his:
1.The Seventh Seal
4. Fanny and Alexander
5. Cries and Whispers
6. Wild Strawberries
For me it would have to be “Persona.”
Bergman was already incredibly famous as a World Clss film talent for such art house hits as “The Seventh Seal,” "Wild Strawberries, “Sawdust and Tinsel,” and “The Magician.” Many thought they pretty much knew what he was about. “Persona” opened up a whol;e side of him no one knew was there. Very severe and simple — basically a two-hander — it’s enormously powerful in getting right to the heart of fear, anxiety, ambivalnece and in that great monolugue sexual desire.
1. The Virgin Spring – beautifully and devastatingly filmed. Love that it is structured like a morality/dark fairy tale and the medieval setting only adds to the feeling. One of the best meditations on revenge and grief and has spawned many imitations – Last House on the Left among them.
2. Persona – both formally and narratively compelling
3. Through a Glass Darkly – can’t forget how god is conceptualized in this film and the performances are flawless. I have a personal weakness for films about mental illness
4. The Seventh Seal – because you think that it has been parodied so much that it would have lost any power to inspire awe but then you watch it and it’s still shockingly powerful in visuals and content. Every frame could work as a photographic masterpiece.
5. Autumn Sonata
1. Cries and Whispers!!!
Honestly I know it’s not the best…but it’s the best to me.
The visceral craziness and juxtaposition of color, contrast and intimacy plus what was the deal with the girl being nursed at like…30??
I’ve always wanted someone to explain that to me and hopefully someone will……
From what I’ve seen…
Fanny & Alexander
Scenes From a Marriage
Cries and Whispers
The Virgin Spring
Through a Glass Darkly
Hour of the Wolf
The Seventh Seal
Smiles of a Summer Night
The Devil’s Eye
Port of Call
I’ve seen many of his films, and I’d have to say Autumn Sonata is currently my favorite. Scenes from a Marriage comes in close second.
I just loved the presence of Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata. The relationship between her and Liv Ullmann’s character was destructive and unforgettable. Just brilliant.
@Miasma – Nice going mentioning “Port of Call” I had forgotten all about that early one!
Through a Glass Darkly
Summer with Monika
There are many more which I’m not mentioning, but I tend to like those “collectively”.
I could never decide between Persona, Virgin Spring, or Cries and Whispers. those are my 3 faves
Two years since my first post and I’m still sticking with Winter Light. It’ one of the bravest films ever made.
I see Wild Strawberries again every spring when I show it to my annual crop of freshmen. It is also just as magical the twenty-fifth time as it is the first.
The Seventh Seal
but i still have to watch so many of his that my top 3 isn’t really fair.
so much for the and why… These ‘list films’ threads need to end.
I don’t think there is an “ultimate” Bergman film. His films hit you in different ways. As a total package I would have to say I enjoyed watching Fanny and Alexander the most, but then I loved his play on Shakespeare in Smiles of a Summer Night and his forays into the dark side of humanity in films like The Virgin Spring. He also passed along great screenplays to others such as Best Intentions to Bille August, a further exploration of his own family.
with his cannon, it’s too hard to decide.