Friday, September 29, 2006

Through a glass, darkly!

I continue with my two part series on movie directors, which makes me think i should go for a third part too. I shall explain later why...for now its...

Ingmar Bergman, Swedish stage director and film-maker, famous for landmark movies like 'The Seventh Seal', 'Persona' amongst others.

If Keislowsky was the most unique mind in the history of movies, Bergman was the most philosophical of the film-makers. While the essence of Keislowsky movies were always different and unique, Bergman's was mostly about the basic questions of life (God/Existentialism/Love as the answer to all problems) through different plots. Its like the difference between a Graham Greene (Keislowsky of literature) and Sartre (Bergman).

Once again I would like to demostrate what I am trying to say by taking a few examples:

The Seventh Seal (1957)
Much has been said about this landmark movie. Man takes on Death in a game of chess and whoever wins, wins (but we, the viewers know that it has to be the 'Death' as that has been the ritual since forever). During this game of chess, some of the most existential of the conversations keeps happening between the two in the simplest of the language (which was a regular Bergmans' fixture). Take this for example,

Death: Don't you ever stop asking?
Antonius Block (Man): No. I never stop.
Death: But you're not getting an answer.


Antonius Block: Who are you?
Death: I am Death.
Antonius Block: Have you come for me?
Death: I have long walked by your side.
Antonius Block: So I have noticed.
Death: Are you ready?
Antonius Block: My body is ready, but I am not.

Need I say anything more...

Through a Glass, Darkly (1961)
The phrase, "... through a glass darkly..." first appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul. "To see "through a glass" - a mirror - "darkly" is to have an obscure or imperfect vision of reality. Paul explains that we do not now see clearly, but at the end of time, we will do so.

On a breezy islnd, a recently released mentally sick young woman, is spending her vacation with her husband , a doctor, her father, a writer and her younger brother. Karin is suffering from hallucinations and hysteria. She thinks she is visited by God. And the father, being a compulsive writer, starts recording the fall of his daughter as a subject material for his next work.

Where the movie becomes a brilliant philosophical study in celluloid, is in the last 5 minutes of conversation between the writer father and son, wherein the father (read Bergman himself) tries to suggest that 'love is probably the only way to carry on in this otherwise meaningless life with 'no concrete sign of God'.

trust me fellows, you would need whisky shots for Bergman!

now for the reason behind thinking about a third part to this series on directors. if you have noticed, there is a trend of 'Trilogy' amongst the great artistes (specially in movies)...some examples:

- Keislowsky with his 'Color Trilogy' (Red, Blue and White)
- Bergman with his 'Through a glass, Darkly', 'Winter Light' and 'The Silence'
- Satyajit ray with his 'Apu Trilogy'
- Godfather, Matrix etc
- Jean Paul Sartre with his 'Roads to Freedom' trilogy (Age of Reason, The Reprieve and Iron in the Soul)
- The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
and many more...

this 'Trilogy' phenomena is indeed a point to ponder!


Anonymous said...

meeraj...this stuff is 2 deep 4 me i feel like going back into my hole. cause its deep in the earth hahaha. but on a serious note i dont know this person but i must say well writen its a good read. and u must have researched well in detail.

mouse that sqeaketh.

meraj said...

thanks mousey...and sorry about making you feel that way. will write soemthing which will make you come out in the sun.

ghaza said...

how the $*&@ can you associate matrix with the other gems in this post .......... ok I don't know many of them, but of what I do it is like an insult to those to squeeze matrix in between ........... however, I know it is unintentional so cool :)

saw dor? I hated it, felt most of it too superficial ........... they hadn't given much thought to anything other than the basic story and choice of locations ......... especially after it was so promising ......... so I felt really let down ....... he he he .........

meraj said...

you have a point there ghaza...but as you said, the inclusion was highly unintentional.

dor was an utter bore...i share all your views on the movie.