When you ask somebody about any number of film makers they’ll most likely draw a blank, even among film students. Throughout film history several giants stand out among all film makers, like Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley Kubrick, Frederico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa. There’s many more that fit the title of legendary. So why have so many of these names fallen into near obscurity? I know there are many people that recognize and revere these artists and their work, but to others less versed in film history these are just obscure names.
Of the film makers mentioned here, Ingmar Bergman remains the most personal to me. His vast artistic output is the embodiment of the human experience, which I suppose is a pretty bold claim. Some would say his work consists of morose, philosophically bleak portraits of the human condition. I consider it an unflinching look at our darkest impulses and fears, but not just that. It would be a misinterpretation of Bergman to pigeonhole his films as dark, as there are several shades of his work that encompass lighthearted comedies concerning romance to fragile human struggles that conjure phantoms.
The first film I saw of his was titled Wild Strawberries, a film made in 1957 during one his most creative periods, a film about an aged man who goes on a road trip to accept an honorary degree. Along the way he is confronted by his life and its inadequacies. It’s an introspective drama that addresses the concerns of mortality, expectation, and self-worth. I saw it several years ago not knowing who Bergman was, and found myself redefining my own view on film as an art form.
With over 50 films by Bergman there’s no shortage of material to enjoy. I’ve included a short video essay by Criterion below that further explores Bergman’s themes.
Justin Kataquapit was born in Moose Factory, Ontario, raised in various towns across northern Canada. He has an interest in classic literature, cinema, and has a wide array of interests in the arts. He is currently in his final year in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College.