July 30, 2007

A Legend Passes: Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89

Ingmar Bergman, the “poet with the camera” who is considered one of the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden, Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said. Bergman was 89...

In Bergman, the mind is constantly seeking, constantly inquiring, constantly puzzled...

“I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the plain,” he said. “I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn’t matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my name is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A dragon or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn’t matter!”

Mr. Bergman’s celluloid carvings often revealed an obsession with death. But in later life he said that the obsession had abated. “When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying,” he said. “But now I think it a very, very wise arrangement. It’s like a light that is extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about.”
Perhaps Mr. Bergman would have forgiven us for making just a little fuss about it today... not on his account, but on ours. Yes, it's just a little light being extinguished, but every light extinguished leaves the world a little darker.

Bergman was unique, a true innovator, and while I can't say that I loved every film he made, I can say that when he failed it was because he took the risks that an innovator must take if progress is to be made and vision realized. Luckily for us, his work has been preserved and will stay with us for centuries to come.

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