One of filmmaking’s true masters, Ingmar Bergman, has passed away at the age of 89. The great Swede could be dark and foreboding or even mystifying for casual film viewers, but for those who got to sample his greatest works, it added another layer to their love of film. At least it did for me.
A brief rundown of five of my favorite Bergman works.
Smiles of a Summer Night: This romantic romp was one of his earliest films and seems quite uncharacteristic when compared to his later works, but its charms are legion and it even inspired the great Stephen Sondheim musical “A Little Night Music.” Still a joy to behold more than 50 years later.
The Seventh Seal: Probably his best-known work for its central setpiece and imagery as a knight returning home from the Crusades (Max von Sydow) challenges Death to a game of chess in hopes of sparing his own life.
Wild Strawberries: A moving piece about an old professor off to receive an award and reflecting on his life during the train ride there.
Scenes From a Marriage: Originally made for Swedish television, this story about the life of a couple was trimmed into a feature. Both versions are great and a pseudo-sequel to it, Saraband, reuniting its stars came out in 2005.
Fanny and Alexander: Bergman said this film would be his last feature and talk about going out on a high note. A semiautobiographical tale of two children from a large theatrical family terrorized when their mother marries a sadistic minister, it’s haunting and entertaining and one of the most lush productions in terms of costumes, cinematography and sets ever placed on celluloid.
By Scott Schuldt, Staff Writer