Saturday, 22 June 2002  
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The Man Bergman ... ... nears the threshold of his Winter Sonata

by Nuwan Senadhira

The latest on the almost 84 year old Swedish film making magnate, legendry Ingmar Bergman, is that he has recently donated manuscripts, notebooks, plot summaries, unpublished books, sketches and photographs, previously unseen footage; and shall annotate and edit behind-the scenes films recalling the making of 18 of his movies as a donation,from his private archives, to the Swedish Film Institute. Instead of waiting till Bergman died for researchers and film buffs to study his work, he decided it was a good idea to help them by donating his material now itself.

If it were to be sold, it would be worth a fortune, but the film institute has no desire to do so. He is also currently working on a sequel to his seventies classic "Scenes From A Marriage"[1972], a movie made for mature audiences (not necessary adults only) as children would be bored to watch an art movie which has such depth, and needs the capability of an intellectual perspective to understand it. Bergman has roped in Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, who played the original characters of Maranne and Johan 30 years ago. The sequels named "Saraband".

"Scenes From A Marriage" explores man-woman relationship, not his first movie based on this theme, but certainly explored in a very unique manner.The movie concerns the troubled, long term love life of a professional divorced couple who are unable to endure separation meet again and again discussing their family/ as well their love life together. The scenes are surely shot in a very unique manner, always inside a room and just the 2 main characters in the whole movie.

The wife is a divorce lawyer, she thinks she's happily married, until her husband tells her of his mistress and plans to leave her. Here again only the husband wife are shown. The mistress keeps calling the house, the wife picks up and the line gets cut. This keeps on taking place , the mistress is never shown. Their children are shown as young kids, in a scene, but that is it. The scene when the wife crawls at her husbands feet begging him not leave her and the kids, and when he leaves she calls the mistress and pleads to her to leave her husband alone, the other woman is never shown. When the couple meet again for the divorce, again it's filmed inside a room with a typewriter, their arguments et al, only the two of them in the room. After a few years when he visits his wife on brink of her marriage to another man, again their facial expressions against the backdrop of a sitting room. In the finale again the couple meet , their kids adults (not shown) , neither his wife nor husband are shown. In the end the audience is left questioning as to real meaning of marital bliss.

Ingmar bergman, born on t of July 1918, Swedish film writer/director, known as the rebellious son of a Lutheran pastor, had worked in the theatre before emerging onto the big screen. The first film he directed was "Crisis"[1945].

He won international acclaim with "Smiles Of A Summer Night" [1955] and "The Seventh Seal"[1956]. "Wild Strawberries"[1957], brought him the reputation of being among the worlds greatest film makers, when he received the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival in 1958. Some of his best films were mostly marked with bleak depictions of human loneliness, the likes of "Through A Glass Darkly"[1961], Persona[1966], "Scenes From A Marriage", "Autumn Sonata" [1978] and "Fanny and Alexander"[1982].

For "Autumn Sonata" he brought in the Swedish actress who had made it big in Hollywood, none other than the gracefully aging star of classic "Casablanca" [1942], (which was recently nominated this month as the first in U.S top romance blockbusters, beating love stories like "Roman Holiday" [1951], "Love Story" [1970], " The Way We Were" [1973] etc.) Ingrid Bergman. No they are not related in anyway. He also brought in Liv Ullmann, star of "Scenes From A Marriage", with whom he shared a great relationship resulting in a daughter in 1966. In this movie Bergman brings back the issue, which was a craze back in 50's in America, that is of children blaming everything on their parents. Ullmann plays the wife of a pastor in Norway, in her mid-thirties, who invites her mother, a concert pianist, played by Ingrid Bergman, over for a visit.

Their starts all the bickering and accusations against her poor mother, stating that her mother deserted her as a child due to concerts and never loving her enough. The whole film goes like - Mother did this to me, she did that to me, this and that and this and that, and it goes on one complain after another. Ullmann perfects in the art disturbed emotions, while the real likable character is that of Ingrid Bergman. She excels in the exploitation of a mother who cannot love.

Ingmar Bergman, has been married five times, the first four he divorced, and has 7 children from them and one illegitimate child with Ullmann. His last wife died in 1995, he has no children with her, but stayed the longest and happiest together. They married in 1971. Bergman has been awarded with the prestigious Oscar for Best Foreign film thrice for "The Virgin Spring" [1960], "Through A Glass Darkly" [1961] and "Fanny And Alexander"[1982]. He has also been honoured with Golden Plaque, Swedish Film Academy in 1958, Erasmus Prize, (shared with Hollywood's Charlie Chaplin) Netherlands in 1965, and an Honourary doctorate of philosophy from Stockholm University in 1975.Throughout his career he has directed stage plays, mainly at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre. Now Bergman fans can await patiently for the release of "Saraband", the sequel to "Scenes From A Marriage". As well as students at the Swedish film Institute can enjoy studying Bergman thank's to his donations.


HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

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