Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres."

bergman was actually born in the city philip now lives in, uppsala. this proves nothing other than life's remarkable whimsy.

the single most powerful scene i remember in film is in cries and whispers. the wife takes a broken wine glass to her clitoris while declaring it "a tissue of lies." bergman had a pretty good handle on the things people do to one another.

of course, there are lots more memorable moments in his films. like allen & fellini, he believed in the magical power of film & explored it relentlessly. he had range too. not everything was doom & gloom & clit-cutting. there's the bittersweet, wild strawberries, & the very sweet, smiles of a summer's night. there are hugely comedic scenes even in the late franny & alexander (not to mention the sancho panza-like knight's helper in his most brilliantly conceived & executed film, seventh seal).

rohmer & oliveira are the remaining figures from a time when film directors were gods & their every film was sacramental in their revelatory truths. these guys elevated film to its rightful place in the art world pantheon. who knew that pantheon would prove as rickety a stick fence or that someone like judd apatow would be declared a genius?

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