Ingmar Bergman: Stunted

After the release of Antonioni’s Eclipse, some of Truffaut’s stuff and, Heaven help us, Godard’s movies, Ingmar Bergman decided to make a film that was weird.  He made the soporific Persona (1967) with its weird opening montage and its weird bits and pieces.  A complete failure, the film has very little significant meaning.

A Passion (U.S. title: The Passion of Anna, 1969) was better—at least it wasn’t dull—but, sadly, it was never enough to be weird (or unusual).  It is quite evident that after the making of such films as Wild Strawberries and Winter Light, Bergman’s intellectual development became stunted; he was no thinker.  Cries and Whispers (1972) was a candid intellectual fraud.  Well did it depict human agony, but there were no real brains behind it.  Face to Face (1976) was just as weak, and, for all its power, Scenes from a Marriage (1973) was unchallenging enough to have the Jan Malmsjo character, Peter, question superciliously the meaning of an old Christian hymn.  This is because Bergman questions it.  But it doesn’t much matter what the Swedish director questions since he mainly provides only emotional depth.  He fashions art, to be sure, but so far (I haven’t yet seen Thirst or To Joy) it is only in Winter Light and My Summer with Monica that I can enjoy this art in full measure.  I’ll be leaving Persona on the shelf.

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