Location: Los Angeles, California

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Antonioni and Bergman

On Monday, the world lost two legendary directors, Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman. During the 60s, it was often considered that the big three European filmmakers were Antonioni, Bergman, and Federico Fellini. They were artists willing to do whatever was required to ensure their vision, and for Antonioni and Bergman, and it was a frequently bleak and atheist look at humanity.

I've seen four Bergman films - "The Seventh Seal," "Fanny & Alexander," "Wild Strawberries," and "Persona." "The Seventh Seal" is a haunting and (occasionally) humorous look at how one approaches death; "Fanny & Alexander" is a flat-out masterpiece involving large families, the desolation of religion, the confusion of childhood, and candle farting; "Wild Strawberries," a meditative consideration of old age and lost opportunities; and "Persona," well, I still am not quite sure what to think of that movie.

I've only seen one Antonioni - "L'Avventura" - which I am sad to say didn't really impress me. But it was easy to see that Antonioni had extraordinary talent, and I'm curious to try out "Blow-Up," "La Notte," "Eclipse," and "The Passenger."

Both Bergman and Antonioni lived full lives (Bergman was 89, Antonioni 94). Many of the articles I've been reading have been suggesting that their deaths signal the ultimate end of an era - an era when directors challenged the status quo, challenged the Hollywood conventions, and made films of dazzling sophistication in terms of theme and formality.

Nostalgia does strange things to people. Films are no better or no worse than before, but one thing is certain - Antonioni and Bergman were cinematic masters, and the world is somehow more empty without them around.


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