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The Reeler Blog

Wherein I Mourn Ingmar Bergman

The Bergman blog-ituary orgy carries on even now, nearly a full day after the filmmaker's, er, timely death at age 89. I was scarce around these parts doing my own special brand of mourning, which you can read over at The Huffington Post:

Even this morning, awaking to news of the Swedish director's death at age 89, I wondered which of his characters' demises relates the most. Was it that of the knight in The Seventh Seal, with his sincere, doomed end-run around the imminence of Death? Was it that of Isak Borg in Wild Strawberries, the smug academic compelled to redeem his inhumanity during a valedictory tour to Lund? Perhaps it was Jan, the sensitive aesthete of Shame who is driven to violence and subsequently lost at sea, or perhaps Fanny and Alexander's actor/producer Oscar Ekdahl, whose sudden death prematurely plunges his children into a nebula of imagination and dogma.

I lean toward the latter, with his longtime cinematographer Sven Nykvist (who died in 2006) masking the shot from the afterlife: Bergman's fans peering through the door at his deathbed, the bereft critical community pacing by every few seconds, shrieking in despair. This sad day may be even sadder for its ultimate revelation that an artist who cornered the market on gravity -- a Lutheran minister's son who sprinkled rape, mutilation, disease, mental illness and incest into his oeuvre like Michael Bay invokes product placements -- could be remembered so glowingly for his signature brand of existential horror. The talky crises of Persona, Scenes From a Marriage or Autumn Sonata are your crises. The sexual frustrations fueling Monika and sent up in Smiles of a Summer Night are your frustrations. You don't choose sides in a war; nevertheless, just like in Shame and The Silence, you are implicated.

There's more where that came from at HuffPo -- and even more in the morning, probably. Please stand by.

Posted at July 30, 2007 8:48 PM

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