My 15 Favourite Moments in Ingmar Bergman Movies

Recently I’ve been revisiting some of my favourite films from legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, whom Woody Allen called the greatest filmmaker of all time. And rightly so. His movies are amazing, unforgettable, and freaking awesome. The lowest rating I’ve given to any of his movies was a 6 (bordering on 7), and so far I’ve seen a lot of his movies. These are the Bergman movies I’ve seen: Crisis, Port of Call, Summer with Monika, Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Brink of Life, The Magician, The Virgin Spring, The Devil’s Eye, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Shame, The Passion of Anna, Cries and Whispers, Face to Face, The Serpent’s Egg, Autumn Sonata and Fanny and Alexander. That might seem like a lot to you but to me there are still some really great ones out there I really want to see (with particular emphasis on the ever-elusive To Joy and Scenes from a Marriage).

Anyway, the last time I did a post solely about Bergman was for his birthday back in July, so I thought it about time to write something new about my favourite director of all time. So, cue my list of my 15 favourite moments in some of Bergman’s great movies.

1: The blaring operatic music at the opening of The Seventh Seal.

2: The final taking of the main characters at the end of The Seventh Seal as they are captured by Death and forced to forever leap aimlessly in the Dance of Death while only Jof can see.

3: The dream sequence at the opening of Wild Strawberries.

4: The final, miraculous act at the end of The Virgin Spring (skip to 6:30 in the video if you wish to see it).

5: Harriet Andersson being raped by an invisible spider-God in Through a Glass Darkly.

6: The slow closeup of Gunnar Björnstrand as much of the screen around him fades to white and he quotes Jesus’s words while hanging humiliated in crucifixion in Winter Light.

7: Ingrid Thulin’s mad, feverish fit of sickness at the end of The Silence.

8: The opening six-minute prologue to Persona, which works as an eerie salute to cinema, with vague imagery reminiscent of Buñuel and Godard.

9: The obligatory shot of Bergman and Sven Nykvist near the end of Persona.

10: Max von Sydow’s spiralling insanity in The Hour of the Wolf, most notably his humiliation in front of a saucily nude Ingrid Thulin.

11: The final hauntingly beautiful moments of Shame, as Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann lay floating on a boat amongst a pile of corpses.

12: The random interviews with the actors about their characters in The Passion of Anna.

13: The incredible zoom inwards at the very end of The Passion of Anna (and the misplaced word which follows it on screen).

14: Pretty much every scene in Cries and Whispers.

15: The breathtaking, amazingly beautiful prologue to Fanny and Alexander.

Those are my 15. If there are any scenes or moments you like that I haven’t listed, feel free to leave some in the comments below. If you have anything to say related to Bergman, the comments on this post is just as good a place as any, so you’re more than welcome to leave anything between just a few words or an all-out ramble.

Posted on September 5, 2011, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. The obvious one missing is the chess playing scene on the shore in The Seventh Seal. My absolute favorite individual scene from a Bergman film is the dream sequence of Wild Strawberries.

    Nice and ambitious post. I like that you “bothered” with embedding the video examples.

    • The chess scene was a teensy bit obvious for me. I was just rewatching THE SEVENTH SEAL the other day. It’s now one of my ten favourite movies of all time when I update my list.

      I had to embed the videos, it makes it more interesting.

  2. Christian Hallbeck

    I think you have chosen some very fine Bergman moments in your list! The only one I don´t like, or belive in, is the scene from “The Virgin Spring” (I don’t like the movie as a whole either). I think the metaphor of flowing water is better and more accurately used in “Winter Light”, in the scene where the reverend stands beside the dead Johan Persson by the river, after he has shot himself. The only thing you hear is the roraring of the river, as the reverend stands in front of the dead Johan, confronted with his failure to save him from killing himself. The voices of the reverend and the ambulance staff can only be hinted through this ear-splitting sound of flowing water, as they carry the dead body into the ambulance. Through this selecting of sound, Bergman has made his stetement in the most clear and powerful way possible: God (symbolized by the roaring river) did not give the reverend the strength he needed to save Johans life. At the end of the film Märta Lundberg will give him this strength.

    • I think both scenes are powerful, and if I think about it long and hard, I suppose the scene in WINTER LIGHT is more deserving. But I do love the ending of THE VIRGIN SPRING. Can’t I just love them both?

  3. Christian Hallbeck

    You sure can, Tyler! In it’s own right the scene in “Virgin Spring” is very beautiful. I can’t disagree with you there. I just sympathize with Bergmans change of perspective between the two films: from the image where the stream flows under and through the dead body, to the image where the stream flows beside it. Where faith alone did not help to save a life, but where the love of another human being probably would have.

    (I don’t know how much Bergman himself sympathized with what was said in “Virgin Spring”. It is one of the few movies where he didn’t write the script himself. He mentions it very briefly in “Images”.)

    Like you, I think “Winter Light” is Bergmans best film – alongside “Wild Strawberries” and “Cries and Whispers”.

  4. I loved that clip from Virgin Spring after feeling otherwise sort of “meh” about the rest of the film in my initial watch. Part of the problem is that it was the 15th or so Bergman film I’d watched. So the meaty part of it was nothing new to me. After so much dirtiness and filth and vengeance, to see what was (basically) a miracle, it hit me like a ton bricks.

    That brings me to one that you mentioned that you haven’t seen- To Joy. It has a similar feel. The bulk of it feels like standard issue Bergman (a good thing… but nothing special, amongst Bergman films, if you’ve seen a lot). But the end hit me like a ton of bricks.

    Seeing the dream sequence from Wild Strawberries on here made me very happy. The whole Spider-God monologue from Tomas/Bjornstrom in Winter Light, as Von Sydow the fisherman looks on bewildered, is my personal favorite.

    I’m also a HUGE fan of the Bjornstrom scene in Wild Strawberries where he drills his wife with why he won’t have kids. “This life sickens me. I will not be forced to take on a responsibility that will force me to live one day longer than I intend to.” My lord, can you imagine Hollywood having the balls to put something like that in their movies in the 1950’s?

    I’ll conclude my rambling with this. Do you want to know why Bergman is amazing? Because I could make this list again and again and I’d make a different list of “best scenes” every single time. There are just too damned many to pick from. One time, I might go for the clowns-and-cannons from Sawdust and Tinsel. The next time, I might pick the rotating clock from Smiles of a Summer Night. Yet another time, I could go for the vomiting ghost in Fanny and Alexander. Thulin masturbating with a shard of glass in Cries and Whispers as an overt symbol of sexual frustration? Completely a contender. People crawling on the ceiling in The Hour of the Wolf, the awesome opening sequence of Scenes from a Marriage, many many portions of The Magician… It could go on and on.

    • Those are some great scenes you’ve mentioned, and some I haven’t seen. I might have to buy a cheap copy of TO JOY and/or SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE as I don’t see any other way of finding them.

      I need to see WILD STRAWBERRIES again. I have only seen it once.

  5. Amazing post, seeing the videos and images makes me want to watch more of Bergman’s movies as I really need to watch more of them.

  6. Nice blog you have here! I agree on many of them (especially Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) and Såsom i en spegel (Through a Glass Darkly). I don’t like Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal) though, even after seeing it twice. 😉

  7. Every scene in cries and whispers👌🏻👌🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 totally agree with you

  1. Pingback: My 15 Favourite Moments in Ingmar Bergman Movies (via Southern Vision) « Espacio de MANON

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