Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman

For a generation whose childhood was shaped by Hollywood movies, he opened the door to a new world of film as art. In the years after World War II, Bergman taught us how to think and feel and see in a new way.

He was an artist of images, but ideas were always there. All the words in books about existentialism came into focus for me only after watching “The Magician” in the 1950s.

His obituary in the New York Times today tells about the fifty films he made in the course of a long dream-like life, but behind the names and numbers is the story of an artist who helped shape the sensorium of several generations.

“I have maintained open channels with my childhood,” he once told Michiko Kakutani. “I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it was--with lights, smells, sounds and people...”

For new generations, Ingmar Bergman’s dreams will always be there on DVDs and cassettes. Start with “Fanny and Alexander.”

Once on an airplane ride I sat next to a Jesuit priest who wrote best-selling books. We spent the entire time talking passionately about Bergman. It was what we had most in common.

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