Category Archives: Bergman

‘Come here, Marie. Come. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re beautiful. You’re probably more beautiful now than before. But you’ve changed a lot too. I want you to see how you’ve changed. Now your eyes cast quick, calculating side glances. You used to look ahead, straightforwardly, openly, unmasked. Your mouth has taken on an expression of discontent and hunger. It used to be so soft. Your complexion is pale now. You use makeup. Your fine, broad forehead now has four wrinkles above each brow. No, you can’t see it in this light, but you can in broad daylight. Do you know what caused those wrinkles?’
‘No.’
‘Indifference, Marie. And this fine line that runs from ear to chin isn’t as obvious any more. But it’s etched there by your easygoing, indolent ways. And there, by the bridge of your nose. Why do you sneer so often, Marie? You see it? You sneer too often. See, Marie? And look under your eyes. The sharp, scarcely noticeable lines of your impatience and your ennui.’
‘Can you really see all of that in my face?’
‘No, but I feel it when you kiss me.’
‘I think you’re joking with me. I know where you see it.’
‘Really? Where?’
‘You see it in yourself. Because we’re so alike, you and I.’

– Bergman, Cries and Whispers

Good night

‘Marianne. Marianne! Sorry to wake you.’
‘It’s all right. I’ll fall asleep again. What’s wrong? Johan?’
‘I don’t know. I think I’ve got, I don’t know, some fucking anxiety.’
‘Anxiety? What do you mean? Oh I see! You’re sad!’
‘I’m not sad… It’s worse. I’m anxious. It’s bigger than me. It’s trying to make its way through every orifice in my body, my eyes, my skin, my ass. It’s like some massive mental diarrhoea! It’s seeping through everywhere, I’m too small for it.’
‘Are you afraid of death, Johan?’
‘I want to scream more than anything. What can you do with a baby that won’t be comforted?’
‘Come and lie down with me.’
‘There’s no room.’
‘We’ve slept in smaller beds.’
‘We won’t be able to sleep.’
‘It doesn’t matter. Not in the last days of our lives.’
‘I have to take off my shirt. It’s soaked with sweat.’
‘Go on then.’
‘You take yours off too.’
‘All right.’
‘Come on, Johan. Come here. There… lie down.’
‘Good night, Marianne.’
‘Good night.’

– Bergman, Saraband

‘We ought to get away from here’

‘Andreas. We ought to take a trip somewhere. We ought to get away from here. It would do us both good.’
‘I want so much to say yes.’
‘I want to say l’ll ask Elis to lend us the money. At the same time, a wall grows up. I can’t speak or show you I’m happy. I know it’s you, but l can’t reach you. Do you understand?’
‘I understand very well.’
‘I’m outside that wall. I’ve shut myself out. I’ve fled. Now I’m so far away.’
‘I understand. I know how strange it feels.’
‘Yes, it is strange. I want to be warm and tender and alive. I want to make a move. But you know how afraid – ‘
‘It’s like a dream. You want to move but can’t. Your legs and arms are as heavy as lead. You try to talk but can’t.’
‘I’m afraid of humiliation. It’s an everlasting misery. I’ve accepted the humiliations and let them sink into me. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, I understand.’
‘It’s terrible to be a failure. People think they have the right to tell you what to do. Their well-meaning contempt. That brief desire to trample on something living.’
‘You needn’t – ’
‘I’m dead. No, that’s wrong. Melodramatic. I’m not dead at all. But I live without self-respect. I know – it sounds ridiculous, pretentious. Most people have to live without a sense of self-esteem. Humiliated at heart, stifled and spat upon. They’re alive, and that’s all they know. They know of no alternative. Even if they did, they’d never reach out for it. Can one be sick with humiliation? Or is it a disease we’ve all caught? We talk so much about freedom. Isn’t freedom a poison to anyone who is humiliated? Or is that word a drug the humiliated use to be able to endure? I’m past living with this. I’ve given up. Sometimes I can’t stand it any more. The days drag by. I’m choked by food, by the shit I expel, the words I say. The daylight that shouts at me every morning to get up. The sleep which is only dreams that chase me. Or the darkness that rustles with ghosts and memories. Has it ever occurred to you that the worse off people are, the less they complain? In the end, they’re quite silent. They’re living creatures, with nerves, eyes, and hands, vast armies of victims and hangmen. The light that rises and falls heavily. The cold that comes. The darkness. The heat. The smell. They are all quiet… We can never leave here. I don’t believe in moving on. It’s too late. Everything’s too late.’

– Bergman, The Passion of Anna

The first time

Faulkner once said, ‘The stories you tell you never write’. I don’t like to talk about what I’m going to do, because if I start to talk about it… I’m always very surprised and impressed by the directors who [are interviewed and asked], ‘What is it about?’ and then they start to talk for half an hour, and you just have to sit down and look interested! The first day of shooting, of standing in the studio or on the location, and to have to make the first picture, I have the feeling that this is the first time. It’s always the first time. And I’m always making experiments. I always try and try again, try to express things. I’ve been working now for about 30 years. I’ve made 30 or 32 pictures. But every one is the first one.

Bergman

Dictators

Q. If a dictator took over in Sweden and said, ‘You have to choose between the theatre or movies’, what would you do?

A. If a dictator took over in Sweden I think I would not exist. Because the freedom under which we work is a basis. Nobody can come to me and say. ‘Do that or do that’. Not in the theatre and not in the film. I’m my own master. And I want the actors and the technicians and the people around me to be equal. They have also to be their own masters. We have to create [the feeling of] not being afraid, not being self-conscious, feeling, in a way, happy with our work. We must feel proud that we do this thing, this object, this thing of craftsmanship.

Q. When I spoke to Orson Welles, he said that only once in his life did he have complete control of the kind that you insist on, and have had all through your career.

A. It’s absolutely impossible for me to have somebody who has nothing to do with artistic work to interfere. If he tries I ask him to go to hell.

Bergman

You wanted to talk with me?

– You wanted to talk with me, doctor?
– Have you been to see Mrs Vogler yet, Sister Alma?
– No, not yet.
– Let me explain her situation and the reason why you have been hired to care for her. Mrs Vogler is an actress, as you know. During her last performance of Electra, she fell silent and looked around as if in surprise. She was silent for over a minute. She apologized afterwards, saying she had got the urge to laugh. The next day the theatre rang, as Mrs Vogler had not come to rehearsals. The maid found her still in bed. She was awake but did not talk or move. This condition has now lasted for three months. She has had all sorts of tests. She’s healthy both mentally and physically. It’s not even some kind of hysterical reaction. Any questions, Sister Alma?

– Bergman, Persona

Silence

Sometimes I go for days without speaking to a soul. I think, ‘I should make that call’, but I put it off. Because there’s something pleasurable about not talking. But then I love talking, so it’s not that. But sometimes it can be nice. It’s not like I sit here philosophising, because I’ve no talent for that. It’s just this thing about silence that’s so wonderful.

Bergman

Tarkovsky and Bergman

A. The pressure Rublev is subject to is not an exception. An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn’t exist, for the artist doesn’t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world. This is the issue in Andrei Rublev; the search for harmonic relationships among men, between art and life, between time and history. That’s what my film is all about.

Q. What is art?

A. Before defining art or any concept we must answer a far broader question. What’s the meaning of man’s life on earth? Maybe we are here to enhance ourselves spiritually. If our life tends to this spiritual enrichment, then art is a means to get there. This is in accordance with my definition of life. Art should help man in this process. Some say that art helps man to know the world like any other intellectual activity. I don’t believe in this possibility of knowing; I am almost an agnostic. Knowledge distracts us from our main purpose in life. The more we know the less we know; getting deeper, our horizon becomes narrower. Art enriches man’s own spiritual capabilities and he can then rise above himself to use what we call ‘free will’.

Tarkovsky

*

When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. Most of my conscious efforts have ended in embarrassing failure.

– Bergman, Laterna Magica