I found this documentary shown recently on TV Ontario to be a revealing insight into the work of one of the 20th century's major film-makers. Granted, Bergman is not to everyone's liking but this film helps to explain this complex human being. The filming began with a journey to the Faro Island off the northeast coast of Sweden. It is a bleak place, evocative of many of his films with his house hidden away in the woods behind barbed wire and walls with announcements that the visitor is trespassing. One of the visitors remarked that it was like entering George Orwell's 1984 and seemed genuinely concerned that she would be attacked by guard dogs. A number of the leading directors of today are interviewed. I found Woody Allen to be the most perceptive and honest in his assessment. Others were Francis Coppola, Robert deNiro, Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee. All seemed to have various views of the director's individual works and overall legacy but all of them had enormous respect for him. Bergman's first major film A Summer with Monica showed the famous nude scene that captured much attention in the early 1950's but seems very innocent by today's standards. Allen admitted that this scene was the reason he went and Scosese shunned it because it was considered immoral by the standards of his Catholic upbringing. We go on to view a compelling excerpt from The Seventh Seal, pitting the black caped figure of death against his victim in a chess match. The death character affirmed his mission in which he never failed or postponed. Powerful stuff! I was disappointed with the omission of Winter Light, which is one of the strongest statements of nihilism and existentialism in modern cinema. Another was Shame, another excellent movie. The lavish Fanny and Alexander was seen as a Hollywood style extravaganza. To me, it seemed more like a contrast between two ways of life in the director's own childhood. This documentary draws you into Bergman's character and whether you agree or disagree with the views expressed, it is clear that Bergman was a pivotal influence on many directors who came after him with a body of work too lengthy to be discussed in one documentary. Nevertheless, this documentary is well worth seeing.
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