[ This article first appeared at URL http://www.rottentomatoes.com/forum/ ] A FAX FROM INGMAR Background: For many years, Ingmar Bergman has been residing on the remote Swedish island of Faro. The small island only has a few people living there all-year, and Bergman is one of them. On the island, he also has his own movie theatre, where he often has private screenings, since he's so far off from any major city and wants to keep up with the new interesting releases. As a token of appreciation for all he's done for Swedish cinema during the years, all the distributors and theatre chains in the country occassionally send him reels to watch. Bergman might be old, but he's still very interested in new films, and apprently he watches a lot. The fun part: I have a friend who works for a small, independent-run movie distributor, responsible for importing and distributing arguably the best non-mainstream stuff here in Sweden. Anyway, each week they get faxes from all over Sweden from theatres about orders, screenings, changes in schedules, etc. And once in a while, a fax from Faro drops in. Friday last week, it happened again. The fax simply read: "These are the movies Ingmar wishes to see this summer." I can now, exclusively for the Critics Discussion on the RT board present Ingmar Bergman's summer viewing:
At the ripe age of 84, Ingmar Bergman is still very active in his interest of new and old movies, as this thread proves and explains. He's still very much up to date on new releases, and tries to see as many films as possible. And he still has a lot of opinions. As an exclusive for RT's Critics Forum, I can now present some chosen translated excerpts from my Swedish morning paper Sydsvenska Dagbladet, which today (Sunday) has a big and exclusive interview with Bergman (done by my favourite film critic Jan Aghed, no less). In the interview, Bergman speaks freely about new and old films and filmmakers, and parts of it were very entertaining and quotable. The interview in its entirety (in Swedish!) can be found here. About Orson Welles: "Bergman: For me he's just a hoax. It's empty. It's not interesting. It's dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of - is all the critics' darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it's a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie's got is absolutely unbelievable. Aghed: How about The Magnificent Ambersons? Bergman: Nah. Also terribly boring. And I've never liked Welles as an actor, because he's not really an actor. In Hollywood you have two categories, you talk about actors and personalities. Welles was an enormous personality, but when he plays Othello, everything goes down the drain, you see, that's when he's croaks. In my eyes he's an infinitely overrated filmmaker." About Michelangelo Antonioni: "Bergman: He's done two masterpieces, you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido, and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade. He concentrated on single images, never realising that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L'Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse Monica Vitti was a terrible actress." About Federico Fellini: "Bergman: We were supposed to collaborate once, and along with Kurosawa make one love story each for a movie produced by Dino de Laurentiis. I flew down to Rome with my script and spent a lot of time with Fellini while we waited for Kurosawa, who finally couldn't leave Japan because of his health, so the project went belly-up. Fellini was about to finish Satyricon. I spent a lot of time in the studio and saw him work. I loved him both as a director and as a person, and I still watch his movies, like La Strada and that childhood rememberance - what's that called again? The interviewer has also seen the movie several times, but just now the title slips his mind. Bergman laughs delightedly. Bergman: Great that you're also a bit senile! That pleases me. (Later the same day, several hours after the interview, the phone rings. It's Bergman. 'AMARCORD!' he shouts.)" About Francois Truffaut: "Bergman: I liked Truffaut a lot, I've felt a lot of admiration for his way to address the audience, and his storytelling. La nuit américaine is adorable, and another film I like to see is L'enfant sauvage, with its fine humanism." About Jean-Luc Godard: "Bergman: I've never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a ****ing bore. He's made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin, féminin, was shot here in Sweden. It was mindnumbingly boring." About Andrei Tarkovsky: "Late one evening in 1971, Bergman and his friend and director Kjell Grede by pure coincidence stumbled upon a copy of Andrej Rubljov in a screening room at Svensk Filmindustri. They saw it without any subtitles. He ranks it to be one of his most startling and unforgettable movie experiences ever." About modern American cinema: "Bergman: Among today's directors I'm of course impressed by Steven Spielberg and Scorsese, and Coppola, even if he seems to have ceased making films, and Steven Soderbergh - they all have something to say, they're passionate, they have an idealistic attitude to the filmmaking process. Soderbergh's Traffic is amazing. Another great couple of examples of the strength of American cinema is American Beauty and Magnolia." This was translated off the cuff, so excuse me for any possible mishaps.
Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes Forum, May 2002.