Category Archives: Bergman

The first time

Faulkner once said, ‘The stories you tell you never write’. I don’t like to talk about what I’m going to do, because if I start to talk about it… I’m always very surprised and impressed by the directors who [are interviewed and asked], ‘What is it about?’ and then they start to talk for half an hour, and you just have to sit down and look interested! The first day of shooting, of standing in the studio or on the location, and to have to make the first picture, I have the feeling that this is the first time. It’s always the first time. And I’m always making experiments. I always try and try again, try to express things. I’ve been working now for about 30 years. I’ve made 30 or 32 pictures. But every one is the first one.

Bergman

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Dictators

Q. If a dictator took over in Sweden and said, ‘You have to choose between the theatre or movies’, what would you do?

A. If a dictator took over in Sweden I think I would not exist. Because the freedom under which we work is a basis. Nobody can come to me and say. ‘Do that or do that’. Not in the theatre and not in the film. I’m my own master. And I want the actors and the technicians and the people around me to be equal. They have also to be their own masters. We have to create [the feeling of] not being afraid, not being self-conscious, feeling, in a way, happy with our work. We must feel proud that we do this thing, this object, this thing of craftsmanship.

Q. When I spoke to Orson Welles, he said that only once in his life did he have complete control of the kind that you insist on, and have had all through your career.

A. It’s absolutely impossible for me to have somebody who has nothing to do with artistic work to interfere. If he tries I ask him to go to hell.

Bergman

You wanted to talk with me?

— You wanted to talk with me, doctor?
— Have you been to see Mrs Vogler yet, Sister Alma?
— No, not yet.
— Let me explain her situation and the reason why you have been hired to care for her. Mrs Vogler is an actress, as you know. During her last performance of Electra, she fell silent and looked around as if in surprise. She was silent for over a minute. She apologized afterwards, saying she had got the urge to laugh. The next day the theatre rang, as Mrs Vogler had not come to rehearsals. The maid found her still in bed. She was awake but did not talk or move. This condition has now lasted for three months. She has had all sorts of tests. She’s healthy both mentally and physically. It’s not even some kind of hysterical reaction. Any questions, Sister Alma?

— Bergman, Persona

Silence

Sometimes I go for days without speaking to a soul. I think, ‘I should make that call’, but I put it off. Because there’s something pleasurable about not talking. But then I love talking, so it’s not that. But sometimes it can be nice. It’s not like I sit here philosophising, because I’ve no talent for that. It’s just this thing about silence that’s so wonderful.

Bergman

Tarkovsky and Bergman

A. The pressure Rublev is subject to is not an exception. An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn’t exist, for the artist doesn’t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world. This is the issue in Andrei Rublev; the search for harmonic relationships among men, between art and life, between time and history. That’s what my film is all about.

Q. What is art?

A. Before defining art or any concept we must answer a far broader question. What’s the meaning of man’s life on earth? Maybe we are here to enhance ourselves spiritually. If our life tends to this spiritual enrichment, then art is a means to get there. This is in accordance with my definition of life. Art should help man in this process. Some say that art helps man to know the world like any other intellectual activity. I don’t believe in this possibility of knowing; I am almost an agnostic. Knowledge distracts us from our main purpose in life. The more we know the less we know; getting deeper, our horizon becomes narrower. Art enriches man’s own spiritual capabilities and he can then rise above himself to use what we call ‘free will’.

Tarkovsky

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When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. Most of my conscious efforts have ended in embarrassing failure.

— Bergman, Laterna Magica