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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Through A Glass Darkly


A few days ago, at a table, where ymM was also sitting, I dared to argue... it was a small gathering of four of us after having watched Cuaron's recent "Children of Men"; we were, you know, chatting on film and philosophy (how the latter shall be handled in the former), strangely lost somewhere around the discussion on the decadent environment in Turkey... Anyway, there, under these utterly hollow circumstances, in front of everybody, I dared to argue that Bergman is, to put it politely, not as important as people usually consider him to be.

Of course, it was just for the sake of provocation but the whole thing failed. No one at the table took me seriously, and the chat went on. Monsieur F., sipping his cold white wine, explained us why Turkey will soon turn into South Africa. Mobs will shot "blacks" on streets. We did not oppose, it was too late and too mellow, and too hot.

After two days, Bergman died. I cannot imagine a more terrible position that a self-proclaimed cinephile can put himself into.

But there is more.

After years of deferral, resistance to the urge of swallowing his filmography wildly, I had finally given up, the day before this small gathering, I watched "Smiles of a Summer Night" after breakfast, "Wild Strawberries" in the afternoon, with tea and biscuits, and finally "Seventh Seal", as it deserves, just before midnight. When I went to bed, completely baffled, it was different, i was able to say to Salkim. Dreyer, Tarkovsky, something; but different. Then during the weekend, we watched "Through a Glass Darkly" and "Winter Light" (the first two films of his famous trilogy; "Silence" which I haven't seen yet, is the last part). He was still alive then and we were falling in love with him. And he died.

***

Two personal reasons why I finally decided to "go back" to Bergman --you always have this bizarre "feeling", even if you haven't seen one minute of his films before, that you have to know his films if you want to think seriously on cinema-- were his constant engagement with the question of God (not "existing" yet always somewhere there) and that he chose the life of solitary artist, on a small island off coast of Sweden (Faro, which I believe he discovered for "Through a Glass Darkly").

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