Saturday, December 4, 2010

#477: Bergman Island

(Marie Nyrerod, 2006)

Bergman Island was released on Criterion two years after the director died, and it's a testament to what he means to the collection - and of course to film in general - that they released it at all. The film is little more than an extended conversation with Bergman where he reflects on his career, his life, and his looming death. Though he wasn't sick, he had clearly not only retired from his job, but retired almost entirely from the world. He never left the island of Fåro he settled on for the last few years of his life.

The movie is ultimately a reminder of both Bergman's great mind (which was still very much alive and sharp) and his terrible personal life, mirroring in many ways the life of his most famous fan, Woody Allen. Married a number of times, uninterested in his children, generally callous towards anyone he had lost interest in, Bergman was a true "artist" in the worst sense of the word, the kind you hope isn't the norm but is instead the exception. I've always found it quite easy to ignore the unlikable life story of a director or musician or author in order to enjoy their work, and I don't think Bergman is any different. However, I don't mean to say that I absolve Bergman of his sins, or believe his work somehow makes up for what he did to a fairly large number of people (he had nine children). But especially now, years after those wounds were opened and many of them have healed, his work lives on and will continue to live on. It doesn't make him any more right (or, let's face it, any less dead) but it makes our lives richer.

No comments:

Post a Comment