Ingmar Bergman’s anguish back in spotlight for centenary

This file photo taken on June 2, 2003 shows Swedish legendary movie director and play writer Ingmar Bergman in Stockholm. Bergman, who died in 2007 at the age of 89, would have turned 100 on July 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2017

Ingmar Bergman’s anguish back in spotlight for centenary

STOCKHOLM: Swedish film legend Ingmar Bergman, whose tales of anguished love and loneliness made him one of the 20th century’s leading directors, is back in the spotlight with a series of events to mark the centenary of his birth.
Bergman, who died in 2007 at the age of 89, would have turned 100 on July 14, 2018.
To celebrate the occasion, the Ingmar Bergman Foundation has launched a year of festivities around the world.
His plays will be staged in numerous cities, and French, German and Swedish documentaries about the filmmaker — who was tormented by childhood, women and death — are to hit screens. Retrospectives, seminars and exhibitions will also be organized.
“Can you imagine, 60 remakes” of his plays have been staged so far, actress Liv Ullmann, one of Bergman’s muses and his onetime romantic partner, said in a telephone interview.
“By next year, there’ll be up to a hundred of them. That means the world is fascinated... They feel that Ingmar has something to say,” said the 78-year-old, who starred in Bergman’s films “Persona” (1966), “Shame” (1968) and “Autumn Sonata” (1978).
She also directed “Faithless” in 2000, based on Bergman’s script.
Some of Bergman’s previously unpublished writings, including notebooks, drawings and collages, will also be released. A feverish writer, his diaries are full of doodles, notes and reflections.
While Bergman rose to international fame through his movies, his bleak, powerful and dark storytelling is best expressed on the stage, according to Ullmann.
In his plays his writing is “clearer” to the audience, said the Norwegian actress.
The camera’s filter, the violence or the beauty of the scenes, the vivid colors as seen in “Cries and Whispers” (1972) or the icy imagery Bergman used, all create a certain cinematic distance, she said.
“If you put it on stage you come closer.... to the words,” she said.
As part of the centenary celebrations, Hagai Levi, the creator of the popular television series “The Affair,” is to direct a TV remake of Bergman’s 1973-1974 “Scenes from a Marriage,” which explores the disintegration of a couple’s marriage.
The son of a Lutheran minister and a nurse, Bergman was born in 1918 in the Swedish town of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, and had a strict religious upbringing, the influence of which was noticeable in many of his films.
Bergman had a deep attachment to Sweden, though his work was not always met with the same praise there as abroad. Swedes often felt he gave the country an undeserving reputation for gloominess.
A storyteller of Nordic anguish, Bergman’s work is often profound, solemn and challenging, a monument to his fears and passions.
His career spanned the second half of the 20th century, alongside film greats Francois Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Luis Bunuel and Akira Kurosawa.
Although Bergman wrote dozens of plays during his time at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, he rose to fame thanks to his films — with recurring themes of sexual emancipation, death and isolation, as in “The Seventh Seal” and “Wild Strawberries,” both from 1957.
He won three Oscars in the best foreign language film category for “Fanny and Alexander” (1982), “The Virgin Spring” (1960) and “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961).
“Saraband,” shot digitally in 2003 for television four years before his death, was his last film, which Ullmann said he wrote for her.
She said Bergman made it clear he was done with film at the end of that production.
“On the last day of shooting, he stood by the door and said bye-bye and didn’t even stay for dinner,” she said, adding that Bergman flew to Faro, the small Swedish island in the Baltic Sea where he had a home and filmed several of his movies.
When Bergman won the prestigious Palm of the Palms award in 1997 at the 50th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, he snubbed the ceremony to stay on his island, reinforcing the reputation he had earned as a difficult artist.
“When they start to print his books and his diaries, you will find a man who really wanted to do good in life,” Ullmann said.
“He’s not this demon” that people made him out to be, she said, referring to his signature doodle he drew on his notebooks and manuscripts of a devil with horns, a tail and a pitchfork.


Bollywood megastar Bachchan hospitalized with COVID-19

Updated 11 July 2020

Bollywood megastar Bachchan hospitalized with COVID-19

  • Affectionately known as "Big B", Bachchan shot to stardom in the early 1970s on the back of roles in huge hit movies such as "Zanjeer" and "Sholay"
  • Millions of Indians revere Bachchan like royalty, hanging on his every word and seeking his blessings

MUMBAI: Bollywood veteran megastar Amitabh Bachchan, 77, has tested positive for COVID-19 and been admitted to hospital in his hometown of Mumbai, he said Saturday on Twitter, calling for those close to him to get tested.
"I have tested CoviD positive .. shifted to Hospital," Bachchan wrote, saying his family and staff had already been tested and were awaiting their results.
"All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested!" he added.

His son Abhishek Bachchan, 44, said in a tweet minutes later that he had also tested positive.

The Bollywood actors were admitted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment hub, and several other members of the high-profile family were tested for the virus.

Affectionately known as "Big B", Bachchan shot to stardom in the early 1970s on the back of roles in huge hit movies such as "Zanjeer" and "Sholay".
His films still open to packed cinemas across India, but his new movie - comedy-drama "Gulabo Sitabo" - was released on Amazon's streaming service due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Bollywood recently resumed film shoots after a months-long hiatus following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in India in late March.
But actors over the age of 65, such as Bachchan, are banned from set due to their vulnerability to the virus.
India's nationwide coronavirus toll rose Saturday to 820,916 cases - the third highest in the world - with 22,123 deaths.
Health workers have complained about severe staff shortages, with some senior doctors and nurses avoiding frontlines because of their risk of catching the virus.
As the death toll climbs, critics say the country is not testing enough - leaving many infections undiagnosed.
Millions of Indians revere Bachchan like royalty, hanging on his every word, seeking his blessings and congregating outside his Mumbai bungalow every year on October 11, his birthday.
The doyen of Bollywood is a keen user of Twitter, where he has 43 million followers, and his career has branched into television presenting, business and politics, as well as countless commercial endorsements.
Early in his acting life, Bachchan earned his reputation as India's "angry young man" for portraying violent heroes fighting an unjust system and injecting a new aggressive element into Bollywood movies, which had previously consisted of polite romances.
After some lean years, Bachchan bounced back spectacularly, largely due to his stint as host for the Indian version of the popular TV game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", which revived his artistic and financial fortunes.
According to local media, he was being treated at Mumbai's Nanavati hospital.