Last week legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman finally lost his game of chess with the grim reaper aged 89. His films were deeply influenced by his strict religious upbringing and this was most apparent in his epic Fanny and Alexander (1982). His two most famous films were The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, both from 1957. In the existential The Seventh Seal a crusading knight returns to his plague ravaged homeland and is followed throughout by death and stalls for time with a surreal game of chess in order to visit his wife one last time.
Watching a Bergman film is like being whacked over the head with a deep symbolism stick. A case in point is Autumn Sonata (1978) where a famous pianist is confronted by her neglected daughter. What starts out as the usual family reunion between mother and daughter turns into a storm of guilt and regret which leaves the viewer reeling due to the emotional tension on screen.
Scenes from a Marriage (1973) managed to explore the deep sexual relationship and tensions between an estranged couple, giving a new definition to ex sex. Finally one not to be missed was Persona (1966) which was cited by many critics as his masterpiece. A successful actress has a nervous breakdown and is recuperating at a Swedish seaside summer residence with a nurse. In a dream like fashion, the nurse tells stories to pass the time, but the perspective is reversed. The nurse in effect is the patient whereas the now mute actress plays the psychoanalyst in this deep transference drama.
Bergman was an absolute giant of cinema who had an immeasurable impact on 20th Century culture. Make sure you finally look into your soul by checking out some the films from the man who has been dubbed the Shakespeare of film.