The late Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni wanted to do something very new with cinema:to use pictures to make people think about the nature of thought. And to reconnect them with the reality of life
«I am using an apparatus which is constructed to take advantage of a certain human weakness, an apparatus with which I can sway the emotions of my audience – make them laugh, scream with fright, smile, believe in fairy stories, be outraged, be shocked, be charmed, be transported – or bored. So either I am an imposter or – if the audience willingly suspends disbelief – a conjurer.»
The late Ingmar Bergman wrote that in 1957, about his film of that year, Wild Strawberries. A film, for Bergman, began with something vague, often a hazy event that evoked a mood, a fertile mental state. He explained that he wanted to make films “about the conditions, tensions, pictures, rhythms and characters” he found significant. As the son of a clergyman, Bergman became captivated by religious issues: “They go on every hour of every day, although not on a sentimental, emotional level but on an intellectual one.”
The American critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that “if the French New Wave addressed a new contemporary world, Bergman’s talent was mainly devoted to preserving and perpetuating an old one.” Yet Wild Strawberries, along with Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (The Adventure, 1960), Federico Fellini’s 8 1 / 2 (1963) and Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (1961), are all outstanding examples of the modern European film of the 1950s and 1960s. Their basis was post-war Italian neo-realism in the cinema, which was an expression of the many illusions destroyed by the second world war; they also alluded further back to the European avant- garde between 1910 and 1920; they revolutionised the language of film and had new ways to look at the world.
Antionioni in The Eclipse (1962) dealt in tense border situations and dehumanised landscapes. He created vacuums and landscapes in which the characters and action are transformed into an abstract interior; the displacement of the bodies is more important than any sequence of events. He highlights the banal everyday vacuum. He went to great lengths to show bodily fatigue, longing, waiting, despair. The characters’ inner selves were illustrated through physical behaviour. He showed what came after the experiences, when everything that could be said has been said, although did not regret the world’s communication problems. He saw that the world was full of all possible colours but people remained colourless; the world still awaits “its inhabitants who are lost in neurosis”. The work of the auteurs (1) was about thought, about reflection. As the philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote in What Is Called Thinking?, “Man can think in the sense that he possesses the possibility to do so. This possibility is no guarantee that we are capable of thinking.”
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