“If you wish to be reminded of what the medium can do, or if you doubt the depths that lurk beneath the flat skin of celluloid, waiting to be fathomed, Bergman is your man.”—Anthony Lane, New Yorker
From Persona, courtesy of Janus Films
This summer, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University commemorates the centenary of one of the world’s greatest and most influential filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman, with a 16-film tribute running July 5 through August 15.
Ingmar Bergman at 100 will feature some of his most celebrated works, such as Persona and The Seventh Seal, as well as lesser-known treasures, most presented in 35mm. The series provides a rare opportunity for movie lovers to experience films as they were meant to be seen by the Swedish master whose work has been a source of inspiration for countless filmmakers, from Francis Ford Coppola and John Waters to Steven Soderbergh and Greta Gerwig.
“Bergman inspires us to question. What does it mean to be human? What does our life mean?” says David Filipi, Director of Film/Video at the Wex. “Given recent events and the mood of our country, I think it’s an opportune time to revisit his body of work. It will be an exciting moment for younger cinephiles to experience his work for the first time and for lifelong fans to revisit and reconsider one of the great legacies in film history.”
Complete program listings for Ingmar Bergman at 100:
Thu, July 5 | 7 pm
Wild Strawberries (1957)
Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg (masterfully played by director Victor Sjöström) is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is one of Bergman’s most acclaimed and influential films. (92 mins., 35mm)
Fri, July 6 | 7 pm
Summer with Monika (1953)
Inspired by the earthy eroticism of Harriet Andersson, in the first of her many roles for him, Bergman turned in a work of stunning maturity with this sensual and ultimately ravaging tale of young love. The version initially released in the US was reedited by its distributor into something more salacious, but this original version of Summer with Monika stands as one of Bergman’s most important films. (97 mins., 35mm)
Sat, July 7 | 7 pm
With the radical Persona, Bergman attained new levels of visual poetry. In the first of a series of legendary performances for the filmmaker, Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women perform a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference. Acted with astonishing nuance and shot in stark contrast and soft light by Sven Nykvist, it’s a penetrating, dreamlike work of profound psychological depth. (83 mins., DCP)
Thu, July 12 | 7 pm
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men’s hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Full of flirtatious propositions and sharp witticisms delivered by such Swedish screen legends as Gunnar Björnstrand and Harriet Andersson, Smiles of a Summer Night is one of the cinema’s great erotic comedies. (108 mins., 35mm)
Brink of Life (1958)
Bergman’s fascination with the inner lives of women informs this study of a maternity ward, where three women await the blessed event with mixed attitudes—and fates. The film won Bergman his third Best Director award in a row at Cannes, as well as awards for costars Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck, and Bibi Andersson (84 mins., 35mm)
Second feature starts at 9 pm.
Sat, July 14 | 7 pm
BERGMAN’S 100TH BIRTHDAY!
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Returning exhausted from the Crusades to find medieval Sweden gripped by the Plague, a knight (Max von Sydow) suddenly finds himself face-to-face with the hooded figure of Death and challenges him to a game of chess. One of the most influential films of its time, The Seventh Seal is a stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning and a work of stark visual poetry. (96 mins., 35mm)
Thu, July 19 | 7 pm
The Virgin Spring (1960)
Winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, The Virgin Spring is a harrowing tale of rape, murder, faith, revenge, and savagery in medieval Sweden. Starring Max von Sydow, the film is both beautiful and cruel in its depiction of a world teetering between paganism and Christianity. (89 mins., 35mm)
Thu, July 26 | 7 pm
Bergman’s scathing response to the escalation of the Vietnam conflict stars Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann as musicians living in quiet retreat on a remote island farm, where the civil war that drove them from the city soon catches up with them. (103 mins., 35mm)
Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Max von Sydow stars as a haunted painter living in voluntary exile with his wife (Liv Ullmann). When the couple is invited to a nearby castle for dinner, things start to go wrong with a vengeance, as a coven of sinister aristocrats hastens the artist’s psychological deterioration. This gripping film is charged with a nightmarish power rare in the Bergman canon and contains dreamlike effects that brilliantly underscore the tale’s horrific elements. (88 mins., 35mm)
Second feature starts at 8:45 pm.
Tue, July 31 | 7 pm
The Touch (1971)
With his underappreciated first English-language film, a relationship drama shot near his island retreat of Fårö, Bergman delivered a compelling portrait of conflicting desires. A chance encounter between seemingly contented housewife Karin (Bibi Andersson) and intense American archaeologist David (Elliott Gould) leads to the initiation of a torrid and tempestuous affair, one that eventually threatens the stability of her life with a respected local surgeon (Max von Sydow). (115 mins., DCP)
Thu, Aug 2 | 7 pm
Fanny and Alexander (1983)
Through the eyes of 10-year-old Alexander, we witness the delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family, a sprawling bourgeois clan in turn-of-the-20th-century Sweden. Bergman intended Fanny and Alexander as his swan song, and it is the director’s warmest and most autobiographical film, an Academy Award–winning triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional intensity with immense joy and sensuality. (188 mins. theatrical version, 35mm)
Tue, Aug 7 | 7 pm
Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
While vacationing on a remote island retreat, a family’s fragile ties are tested when daughter Karin (an astonishing Harriet Andersson) discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Through a Glass Darkly presents an unflinching vision of a family’s near disintegration and a tortured psyche further taunted by God’s intangible presence. (91 mins., 35mm)
The Silence (1963)
Two sisters—the sickly, intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the sensual, pragmatic Anna (Gunnel Lindblom)—travel by train with Anna’s young son Johan (Jörgen Lindström) to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. Attempting to cope with their alien surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, The Silence offers a disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void. (95 mins., DCP)
Second feature starts at 8:45 pm.
Thu, Aug 9 | 7 pm
Winter Light (1962)
Small town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation. When he is asked to assist with a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own uncertainty. The beautifully photographed film is an unsettling look at the human craving for personal validation in a world seemingly abandoned by God. (80 mins., DCP)
Wed, Aug 15 | 7 pm
Cries and Whispers (1972)
This existential wail of a drama concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant (Kari Sylwan). One of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, the Oscar-winning Cries and Whispers is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquility and terror. (91 mins., 35mm)
Autumn Sonata (1978)
The only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans: Ingmar and Ingrid, the monumental star of Casablanca. The grande dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv Ullmann, as her eldest daughter. This cathartic pas de deux, evocatively shot in burnished harvest colors, ranks among the director’s major dramatic works. (93 mins., 35mm)
Second feature starts at 8:45 pm.