* 2007-2009 Film-North * strawberries : 2007 *
2008 class : mise-en-scene vs. montage in W. Straberries
Latest (last?) updates : Oct. 2008 -- this is my oldest (first) FIRST and left as is...
Bergman: Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
Bergman Pages 2007 :
* video clips [ First Dream from Wilde Strawberries ]
* biblio [ in one place ]
Sorry, film folks; I have to use my film pages for some theatre classes. This one -- for the Script Analysis, Existentialism (pix below)...
I do not know when I will have a chance to update this page, although I have reference to Bergman in all my film classes. He is good for dramatic structure analysis, even as a script-writing example! I use Bergman to illustrate "subjective camera" and POV -- "subjective time"... It's impossible to do without de-objectivization of space.
Sometimes I compare Bergman with Felinni, they are similar in being opposite.
Tarkovsky was inspired by Bergman more, than Bergman's had ever expressed in his admiration for Tarkovsky.
Bergman as any real artist is uneven. There is "early Bergman" and "late Bergman"... but this is for the film historians to talk about.
He is a master.
There are many crafted filmmakers, movie-makers, I should say. Bergman makes films, even when he shoots movies.
"Film-Artist" is something of the past. Bergman was both. He advanced film language without being "experimental" -- you can see him narrating in his most formalistic films. HOW was never separated from WHAT. Bergman is simple.
This simplicity is missing in postmodernity.
He was born before it.
I should speak about Bergman in past tense.
Film is merceless, it looks antique after 50 years...
Films and especially movies do age quickly...
Bergman has too many talents. He write and writes well. He directs for stage. This is not good for a filmmaker. Film directors should be like an artist or a musician, they don't write or dance. Film directing asks for self-limitations.
If a director can express himself in words, he should have enormous self-discipline. I always wanted to stage "Wild Strawberries" -- it has a lot of theatre structure. I won't do it with 8 1/2 (unless it's an experiment like with the staged "Potemkin" in France).
I consider the big film directors to be new philosophers, the postmodern type of discourse... feeling=thinking.
Art always had philosophy in it, but the subject of "War & Peace" is not philosophy. Films, even movies, because of the technology build-in, do have IDEOLOGY in everything.
Film is musically organized, but unlike music, the last structural principle of Aristotle -- the Idea -- is the form! Film is a THOUGHT.
Experiencing thinking, a living reasoning...
It's ONE idea demonstrated in two hours.
They say film is dream-like, but what are my dreams if not THINKING while my brain sleeps? So, it is thinking without thinking! Pre-thinking? Or maybe PRIME THINKING, the only thought process where I do not control it -- and do not lie!
...when I am free from myself...
as if God speaks through me!
Ideology is one-dimensional. Idea-Drive, excluding the rest, because it's full of desire, or WILL as Nietzsche would say. Of course, it's POWERFUL.
Each good film is a state of mind. It has to be static in order to have evolution within. Film is the STOPPED TIME (Faust), only then we can experience time (Deleuze + Bergson, time and memory).
Eisenstein with his dialictics called it "spiral" structure, when we return over and over again. To the same face for example (CU), as if the eternal return (Nietzsche again). How else can we keep time frozen?
After-feeling: "lost time" (as if I didn't live for two hours). There is no time in eternity.
Film is experience (see cultural studies and Baurdaugh). Film doesn't exist outside of being consumed and consuming. It's not about "understanding" -- there is nothing I do not understand because I SEE everything.
In that sense film is anti-intellectual experience as we know it. Post-human, or pre-human.
Film is language I can speak with animals (and we will when we master 3D technology).
It's REAL. Not just a "reflection" of reality as it was with art before, but the reality itself. Resurrected and immortal reality.
Film is nothing but SELF. That is what the resurrected world is about -- it doesn't exist outside of being SELF, i.e. it's subjective reality. There is no division between subjective and objective anymore, SELF is both. My feelings are very OBJECTIVE, pain is extremely real. The so-called "objective" world follows the logic of Kant; it is a thing-in-itself.
Film is only now considered as art form, in the future it will the art-of-living.
Of course, each of his films is about Bergman. It is his self-portrait of inner-world. The filmmaker doesn't have to be on the screen (I do not see myself in my dreams), I am always the center of drama. Everything focused on me and about me. Self-centered, introvert existence.
Read Heidegger again: Being is Becoming and Becoming is Being. There is no Being outside of this process, no existence without being the time itself, without becoming the time.
Heidegger on Nietzsche (Chapter 8): Will as Affect, Passion and Felling. Another type of logic. (from Volume I: The Will to Power as Art).
"Nietzsche" -- the name of the thinker stands as the title for the matter of his thinking -- the first phrase in the Foreword.
Knowledge is supposed to be private and personal. Film in itself is the act of WILL to POWER.
Film is the peak of meditation!
Greeks: psyche is "soul" -- that is the material and method of film.
Heidegger (p. 61): Will to power is never the willing of a particular actual entity. It involves the Being as essence of beings; it is this itself."
My SEEING the world is outside of my will, it is The Will to Power which is I. The power of film in it. The SEEING is this resurrection (becoming=being). Hegel would say the self-realization of the Spirit ("energy of thinking, the pure ego").
That is the subject of film and Bergamn makes it into HIS subject. Not just abstract "being" but his own being equated with the Being.
There is no world without or outside this personal and private Being, no truth without THAT truth. That's is concrete enough to be true.
We say -- camera...
My personal resurrection can't take place with participation of all (technology). There is not enough technology yet, we are not ready...
We are getting there...
He was one of a very few who changed my life. There was me before I saw "Wild Strawberries" and Anatoly-after the film. Click on the graphics above and go to the DEEP THEORY pagesI have my notes on Kierkegaard, who is not a film-maker, but he and Berdyaev understood the essence of existentialism -- the tragic basis of it. In classes we call it "drama" -- we stay away from the word "tragedy."
Ingmar Bergman in 1959. Like Eisenstein he came to film from theatre.
Part One. SHOTS
Bergman likes the extreme -- black and white, shadow and light, and extreme closeups (XCU). Lighting is very gothic (since I don't have time to collect images and take care of copyright) as if it's always "INT." even when it's "EXT."! I use Bergman's CUs for my class on Shots. Lighting brings him and Tarkovsky together.
What we see is always in context of what we don't. The art of a shot is in arranging the acting in front of the camera in such a way that we are in dynamic suspense between in-frame action and action framed-out.
[For practical applications of film theory, go to Film Directing 101, I made this page for "Film Analysis" course. Long ago. In a different century and millenium. That's how old I am. AA]
Especially, when it's out of focus.
Remember: CU is always the climatic indicator.
(Dynamic) Composition Shots (see Montage to study the different between static and dymanic arrangements within a single frame).
2008 2004 & After
projects: Demons: Dostoevsky, Camus & Me -- War of Terror
texts: HIM web-biography
in focus: filmmaking 101
BioMechanics 2009 cine101 LUL
NOTES (from/for Film & Drama Class)Film & Movies 2007Bergman and Tarkovsky were chosen because they represent this Northern sensitivity, which I believe is the core of film-nature. Both are non-Catholic, with the strong division between Earth and Heaven. Maybe even with the resentment to living... and admiration for the beauty of everything mortal.[ ... ]
PART TWO. PLANET NORTH[On Protestant Mentality. New God was born in the North of Europe. Scandinavia is North of Germany... In North I let Kierkegaard speak, on Bergman's page it's Luther.]When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.The entire life? Only protestant mind could replace the dictatorship of the church with the self-tyranny.
Dante's Devil is in ice. Italian and Catholic....
I'm glad I didn't see ALL Bergaman's films and didn't read many of his plays. I saw a few good ones. I one I didn't like, I never finish. I can't judge Bergman, I can only love his films I saw.
This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
LUTHER was a serious man:
[ North Idea ] Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
 Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)Doestoevsky and Freud talked about the pleasure of pain. Film gravitates to violence -- we need to experience terror in order to feel at peace.
 Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
Very much about the films -- our fears are induced, they are only to remember the dread....
 Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.Penalties, death and hell -- the themes.
 And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).and Bergman (shows.vtheatre.net)
First episode: Dr. Berg's dream (in class)
There is another reason for his extreme closeups.
"By focusing on the exploration of the self, his ideas meshed easily with Freudian psychoanalytical thinking, and college students studying his films found ways to express their own inner emotions. Bergman's use of huddled spaces, visual metaphors, flashbacks, and rythymic dance created the language of dreams."...
The first film that will be discussed is The Seventh Seal. Basically it is a film about a knight named Antonius Block who while returning from the crusades encounters Death. The Black Plague is raging across the land and in order to stave off inevitability Antonius challenges Death to a game of chess. One of the first things that should be noted is that much of Bergman’s storytelling is done through capturing the feeling expressed on the actor’s faces. Max von Sydow, who plays Antonius, has many close-ups that give us a window into his thoughts. It is amazing how we can see his struggle with the inevitability of death and how throughout the film he tries to make sense of it all. Beyond the performance of the actors, Bergman also understands the impact of well thought out mise-en-scene. A prime example is the recurring image of Antonius playing chess with Death. First of all the simple setup of how the game is played gives us insight into the meaning of the struggle. Chess is separated into white and black, life and death. Antonius plays the white pieces and Death plays the black pieces. The chess board with the pieces is always between them when they play which seems obvious, but when you think about it there is more meaning that can be gleaned from this. The chess game is the only thing separating Antonius from Death. If he didn’t have that as a “buffer” he would have died in the very beginning. The chess game also represents the inevitability of death, and how as the film progresses, Death comes closer to winning until finally the time has come.
Another scene that sticks out is when Antonius is confessing to Death, but thinks it is a priest. The shot is framed such that we can see Death and on the opposite side of steel bars is Antonius with the sharp shadow from the bars on his face. This scene almost mirrors the type of separation that is in the chess scenes. Antonius is brightly lit but Death is in shadow, light and dark. In the beginning of this scene there is a part where Antonius is looking up at an icon of Jesus on the cross. The way that Bergman positions the camera is almost seems that Antonius is trying to understand something of which he can never attain. The Lord is an enigma to him just out of reach of human knowledge, and his game of chess is his chance to get to know himself before he can know God through death.
The scene with the flagellants is something that stands out as being a symbol of the futility of trying to please God with suffering while at the same time demonstrating how desperate the victims of the plague were for an answer. When it comes right down to it most of this film is about people seeking answers to things that only God would know. They look for the truth in different ways, but in the end they are all trying to find the same thing. As the flagellants come into the village the camera is positioned very low to the ground and their procession comes straight toward the camera. As they walk by lashing each other there is a very distinct feeling of revulsion and the crowd reacts to this by staring in disbelief and horror. Antonius and his squire, on the other hand, look on stoically, hardened by their participation in the crusades. The people thought that through suffering they would be helped by the Lord but Antonius sees the futility in this. In the opposite sense there is a scene where they make a woman the scapegoat of their problems. They believe that she has the devil in her so they are going to burn her at the stake. This scene is actually set up in much the same way as the flagellant scene. When they show the girl the camera is very low to the ground showing her in her pitiful state. It is almost as if Bergman was trying to emphasis the debasement of these people with his use of the very low camera angles. In this case, however, I would think that he was more likely trying to capture the face of the woman has she sat helplessly tied to the wooden pole. As Antonius and his squire leave the presence of the woman it is interesting to note that she is framed in a stone archway and we can hear moans of suffering. The framing of the shot highlights the absurdity of blaming a single individual. The fact that Antonius and his squire leave through the archway demonstrates that they disagree with the blaming of the woman for the problems of the populace.
The final and probably the most memorable part of the film is the final scene when Death finally comes for Antonius and his companions. When Death approaches the group stands before him. It is shot so that they are all facing the camera and this approach greatly accentuates the fact that this is their final judgment. When the girl kneels before Death we see a distinct look of reluctance and fear in her expression, but as the shadow of Death moves over her the expression on her face changes to that of relief and almost joy. It is then that we see Mary and Joseph who were spared death. They are alive to live another day and then Joseph sees the procession of people being led by Death across the field. They are silhouettes being led by Death in a dance to the next world. It is one of the most memorable scenes in filmic history.
The next film that I want to cover is Wild Strawberries, which Bergman made soon after The Seventh Seal. This film is very much about memory and what it means to each and every one of us. The main protagonist is Isak Borg who 78 yrs old and is traveling to receive an award at a university. In his travels he begins to reflect on his life and goes through a series of flashbacks and dream sequences.
There is a dream sequence in the very beginning of the film that is quite significant because it symbolizes many of the problems that Isak is confronting in the final years of his life. An important part of his dream is the presence of a clock that has no hands and a man that has no face. It is as if he is coming to the realization that he doesn’t really know himself very well and there is not any time left to find out. This is accented by a runaway horse trailer that a casket falls out of and when Isak looks at who is in it he sees himself. The dream sequence does a good job of setting up the rest of the film because Isak goes on a journey of self discovery.
Much of the film consists of dream/flashback sequences in which Isak remembers events from his earlier life. The important aspect of the dreams is the fact that Isak is old in them. The title of the film actually refers to his memories of picking wild strawberries as a young man. It is interesting to note that in The Seventh Seal Antonius mentions that he will always remember eating the wild strawberries, which I take to mean that he will remember all that he has done in his life. I don’t know if this connection is intentional or not but it is interesting none the less. The dreams/memories that Isak has are composed mostly of picturesque shots. I think that this accentuates the fact they are not reality. The transitions to and from dreams are also distinct and work as book ends keeping the reality distinct and separate from the memory/fantasy.
The important part of this film is how Isak deals with his memories whether he wants to remember them or not. Like I have alluded to earlier, his dreams may not be perfectly accurate but they are nonetheless what Isak sees. This film uses Isak’s expressions to tell much of the story and his expressions speak volumes in the sequences. Through much of the film it seems as if he is feeling a regret and loss of what he missed out on in his earlier life. In one scene he sees his wife with another man and it is obvious that it is a memory that he would rather forget. Every shot of Isak in this scene shows the struggle on his face and there is even an observer in this dream that mentions the fact that this is a memory that Isak has been unable to forget. The actual primary movement in this scene mostly takes place deep in the background of the shot. Given the distance that Isak is away from his wife and the man it is a wonder that he ever even heard their dialogue. Because of this fact, it seems that maybe Isak is able to distance himself from the memory as more time goes by.
The beginning of the previous scene I discussed has Isak being presented before a classroom in a test of his capabilities as a doctor. This scene is lit so that Isak is the main focus and the examiner and the observers are more in shadow. It is a scene that is reminiscent of the judgment scene toward the end of the film M in which the killer is brought before his criminal peers for judgment of his guilt. This scene represents all the insecurity that Isak has had as a practicing physician and possibly even the guilt associated with his detached relationship that he has had with them.
The final scene that I want to mention in this film is the final one. It starts out with Isak falling asleep. The shot is composed of a close-up of Isak’s face that is strongly lit and surrounded by darkness. As the scene transitions into his memories of childhood the change is cued by the sound of a strummed harp. This memory of his is on of the most picturesque of the film and has beautifully composed shots. All throughout the transitions are all marked with the harp strumming. The people in his memories are all dressed in white while he is in dark clothes. This contrast is quite reminiscent of The Seventh Seal and could be also thought to represent some of the same thoughts. The white represents life and youth, and his dark clothes represent his old age and death. The final shot of this dream has him looking out at his parents fishing in almost a postcard perfect scene. Then it cuts to a close-up of Isak’s content face and holds on it. That is another aspect of Bergman’s films that is so powerful, the length of his shots. When he does a close-up it isn’t quick like other filmmakers. He holds it until every nuance can be taken in and understood. I think that it is this aspect of his films that make them so much more impressive.
The third and final film that will be discussed in this paper is Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. Unlike the previous two films that I discussed this one is in color and Bergman uses this fact to great effect. This film is basically about three sisters who are brought together because one of them is dying of cancer. This film is basically about the memories of the three sisters and how it brings them all together.
For simplicities sake I will not go too in depth into all the aspects that I find important in this film and instead just focus on a few that I find important. The first thing that is important to note is how this is another film about death and dying. We are presented with this fact right away in to the film with shots of clocks ticking away. We know then that the time is running out for all of us and it is important to appreciate what we have. Throughout the film each main character has flashbacks to important things that have happened in their lives. These flashbacks are marked by a close-up of the characters face with strange whispering sounds in the background. These close-ups are unique because one half of the face is dark and the other is light. This shows the fact that the characters all have something to hid and it is through the flashbacks that we will see what that is. This type of close-up is effective because Bergman uses it to bookend the flashbacks. It wouldn’t work as well if he would use them as just the intro and leave it at that because then we wouldn’t know the present from the past. Some filmmakers don’t bookend their shots like this and it really just works to confuse the audience. I think that this is sometimes intentional so that the shallowness of the film can be obscured and instead the audience is forced to unravel it all.
Another aspect of this film is its fade to red between scenes. I can’t say that I have ever seen this done before but it breaks up the scenes well. I wish that I had an idea of what it truly represents but I’m really not sure. In general the idea of seeing red reflects anger, but I’m not so sure that would apply in this case.
I find that Bergman is a true genius of the filmic language. With each viewing of his films there is something more to be gleaned from their message. Hopefully this paper has done appropriate justice to the three of his films that I have covered. His use of close-ups, color, symbols, and mise-en-scene has influenced a generation of filmmakers and hopefully will continue to do so for many more to come.
Anatoly - Please let me know what you think of my paper so far. I am still working on the parts about Wild Strawberries and Cries and Whispers. I feel like I lost some of my direction after I finished the analysis of The Seventh Seal so maybe you could give me some ideas of how to round out my analysis of the other two films. Thanks.
* bergman pages in film.vtheatre.net (new)
[ captions-links ]
docs.google.com : Bergman Pages (download)
2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
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