For anyone interested in film, the world probably feels like a very different place now than it did just two days ago. The passing of two of the last remaining cinematic giants, Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, so close together turns their deaths into something almost symbolic. Without Bergman and Antonioni in our midst, the modernist era has all-but-officially come to a close. For better or worse, it seems that modernism is no longer a tenable way to negotiate the world as it exists today or, at the very least, the present world is not hospitable to such a perspective.
Obviously there are still plenty of great filmmakers living and even a sizeable number of major figures from what could be called the golden â€œJanus eraâ€ of world cinema, including Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and Alain Resnais among others. But Bergman and Antonioni began their careers before the emergence of the French New Wave and belong to a tradition that seems more removed now than ever. Thankfully their legacies continue with new disciples that have adapted their own styles and voices out of the lessons from these master filmmakers – it would be impossible to imagine Arnaud Desplechin's Kings and Queen existing without Ingmar Bergman and the same goes for Jia Zhang-ke's The World and Antonioni.
Speaking of Janus films, we've made a timely last-minute addition to our â€œSummer Abroad: A Tribute to Janus Filmsâ€ series. At 9 PM on Friday, after our screening of Max Olphuls's The Earrings of Madame deâ€¦, we will show a new 35mm print of Autumn Sonata, Ingmar Bergman's only collaboration with his fellow Swede Ingrid Bergman (no relation). Click here for more details.
Here are a three choice Bergman/Antonioni links to close with:
It's nice to see that the Bergman obituaries and tributes make extensive mention of his work in theater. In 1995, I saw Bergman's productions of Shakespeare's A Winter Tale and Yukio Mishima's Madame de Sade at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and they remain two of the most powerful experiences I've had in the theater. Here David Edelstein takes a brief look at the links between Bergman's plays and his films.
Roger Ebert is collecting e-mailed comments about Bergman from a spectrum of artists including Guy Maddin, Studs Terkel, and Richard Linklater. The Guardian contributes their own batch of celebrity tributes by Rick Moody, Thomas Vinterberg, and others.
There's probably no better way to pay tribute to Antonioni than to link to the amazing six-minute long shot at the end of The Passenger (if memory serves, it's not actually the final shot although it's often referred to as such). If one were to play a parlor game of naming the greatest shots of all time, this would have to be one of the leading contenders. Its power comes not from its bravura conception and execution but from the way it conveys a philosophy and worldview with its duration and sense of space and time. To be fair to the clip, it should be seen in the context of the entire film and on a screen larger than the one that YouTube can provide, but here it is nonetheless. â€” Chris Stults, Assistant Curator Film/Video