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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni


On last July 30 two of my most admired directors passed away in the same day maybe with just a few hours difference, and as one imdb user mentioned and I am borrowing his words, “God most not love cinema” as in one day he took away two outstanding filmmakers and storytellers.

A long time ago I was a very curious and knowledge hungry teenager and with my dearest friend Gustavo we explored the world of non-commercial cinema. Obviously that kind of cinema was not available at the usual theaters, but we found it at the cultural institutes of countries like France, Italy and Germany. Eventually one movie theater dared to start to show art cinema and that was just bliss and joy to my mind and eyes.

La Alliance Française was the place where I saw my first Bergman movie. I been thinking trying to remember the name but I can’t remember. Unfortunately with age and so many memories in that brain archive, I cannot remember… but perhaps was Persona with Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and if was not, definitively is one of his movies that I still treasure in my memory, as one that impressed my young mind forever and generated my total adoration for those two actresses.

But there are other Bergman movies I’ll never forget like Cries and Whispers (Fantastic!), Scenes from a Marriage, The Magic Flute, Face to Face (Excellent!), Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, Saraband, Wild Strawberries, and The Seven Seal. Of course the last movie I saw was Törst (Thist) and I have to truthfully thank Kibbs for facilitating me the pleasure of seeing one of Bergman’s early work.

Still, there are quite a few I haven’t seen, which now I feel is great as will keep him alive to me and know that eventually I will be able to live him once again and again until I am able to claim the honor of having seen all his movies.

Then, I do remember the movie that introduced me to Michelangelo Antonioni, it was Blowup, a mindblower movie that also introduced me to Vanessa Redgrave which became one of my favorite actresses. It also starred Sarah Miles and David Hemmings –for whom I fall into a terrible crush that lead me to eventually meet him years after, lol!- and still remember the place where I saw the movie, it was at that daring movie theater.

There are other Antonioni movies I cherish like Zabriskie Point, but his best work according to me is his body of work found in Italian films with the exotic and beautiful Monica Vitti. Il Desserto Rosso, L’Eclisse, L’Notte (also with Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau!), and L’Avventura are a few Antonioni’s movies where Monica starred and make her and Antonioni well known to all serious cinephiles.

There are so many other Antonioni movies... but I'll mention another starring Jack Nicholson and then famous Maria Schneider, The Passenger that non-Europeans consider his masterpiece.

This is my little homage to these two great storytellers that wrote or co wrote most of their films and left a profound imprint in my young brain. Today I would not be the person I am if films by Bergman, Antonioni and many other directors did not open my mind into appreciating the world of images and imagination.

If you browse the Internet you could learn more about these two fabulous directors and their strong impact in cinema, as both of them created their own personal film language that inspired many other well-known directors and make them immortal in the cinephiles world.

Last but not least, I suggest to all my young readers to explore the body of work of these two directors and perhaps will give you the opportunity to begin to understand that movies can be art mainly because the outstandingly different way they represent and depict real life.

Then to those readers that are cinephiles hope my little homage that represents my life with Bergman and Antonioni, stimulates your own memories when you saw their movies and make you relive those treasured moments.

Bergman and Antonioni will live forever, no doubt about it.

P.S. A day before, on July 29 also a great French actor passed away, Michel Serrault that most of us remember him for his role as Zaza in the three installments of the original La Cage aux Folles, but his body of work is extensive with more that 150 films. Like the popular saying says, death comes in three…

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