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Bergman and Saraband shine after 25 years of silence!!!


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When I heard about Saraband for the first time.. My jaw hit the floor. Its been nearly 25 years since Ingmar Bergman has directed a theatrical feature and he has been very firm in keeping it that way. He once said that film was special and that he had never made a film that he was disappointed in. That is why he retired from feature films after Fanny and Alexander. He didn't want to tarnish the worlds perception of his work and risk getting older and having a less then desireable project added to a nearly flawless career.

 

He has written several brilliant screenplays- Best Intentions, Sunday's Children, Faithless and so on- in that time and produced and directed hundreds of stage productions, but as for directing film, he has been silent for a long time. To long in my opinion. Saraband is proof of that.

 

Saraband was released theatrically last year and fits every expectation Ingmar's supporters have always had of him. In style its very comparable to his films Hour of the Wolf, Shame and The Passion of Anna but in its screenplay it fits the usual Bergman ideas about the uncertainty of old age, the destructive nature of family and the undeniable need for personal resolve in life.

 

Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman are brilliant. This has been said for decades but they have both mastered Bergman's style of directing and writing. Playing a divorced couple, reuniting after more then a decade apart from each other, they are flawless in this picture. Their skills as actors has aged in to something very special and powerful. There is much tenderness in their chemistry together. A tenderness and respect that can only come from the many years they have spent together as artists and furthermore as friends.

 

Saraband is harsh and disturbing as to be expected from Bergman but I did sense a little more optomism about life and God then Ingmar's screenplays are known for. I know the death of Bergman's last wife really hit him hard and he has been changed as a person because of it. In fact his doubts about the very existance of God have changed completely, as he has faced his isolation in the house they lived in before she died, for more then 20 years. He says he has felt her there still. Just faintly feeling that her existance didn't come to an end and that she still goes on in spirit with him.

 

You can see this in Saraband. However you can still see a great mistrust and anger toward a "silent God" who sits on his throne and relishes in the suffering of his children here on earth. The true resolve is embodied in the need for family and the love for family members that exsists within people. Even when it is impossible to show that need outwardly. A realisation that always comes to late.

 

I love Bergman's films and dare I say Bergman himself. I have never been able to relate to someones personaltiy and ideas as much as his. Through his films, novels and interviews he has spoken a great deal of truth about our existance as humans and mans inhumanty toward his fellow man. Saraband is a much needed statement in our time. Something that could only be said by Bergman. Said through his unwavering mastery of the screen, the stage and the pen.

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What is everyone's favorite Ingmar Bergman film?

 

Mine is Fanny and Alexander. Still, in my opinion, the greatest and most important film ever made. From Bergman's direction to Nykvist's usual poetic cinematography, to Bertil Guve's, Allen Edwall, Gunn Wallgren's and Erland Josephson's Oscar worthy performances, this is a flawless film. The soul of a boy was filmed. The happiness, sadness and glory of a youth dragged to point of destruction by organized religion and an abusive stepfather. A culmination of 40 years of flawless film making!!!

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I thought that Bergman made a couple of documentaries after Fanny and Alexander and directed several movies for television -- Saraband being one of them. It wasn't planned to be released theatrically, was it? Where did you see it? I'm glad to see it's receiving wider audiences; I envy you!

 

Favorite Bergman? Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander make my list. I seem to recall loving Smiles of a Summer Night, but it's been so long now, since I've seen it... The performances of Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullman were outstanding in Autumn Sonata.

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Jack,

 

He did direct other material but just not for the theatres. Saraband was given a very limited release here in the states in addition to several festivals and cinematheque screenings it played at. I do believe you are right, that it was made for Swedish TV. I wasn't able to travel to see it in theatres. I had to wait and see it on dvd. I read about it late last year in Variety and I hoped it would have made it to the Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe but it never did. To bad actually. I was 3 or 4 years old when Fanny and Alexander hit theatres and I've never had a chance to see one of Bergman's films on the big screen.

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