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The All-Time Favourites #15: Cries and Whispers (1972)

Bergmanathon: Celebrating One Year of Ingmar Bergman Love

My 15 Favourite Moments in Ingmar Bergman Movies

5 Memorable Moments in Ingmar Bergman Movies

Continuing the “5 Memorable” series (now with its own banner :-)) is a selection of five memorable moments (or scenes) in the awesome movies of Swedish legend filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. In no particular order:

1: The Seventh Seal: Death Meets Antonius:

The only clip I can find for this scene is not subtitled, but the iconic image pretty much speaks for itself:

2: Winter Light: Ingrid Thulin’s Letter:

A shockingly extended and beautifully performed monologue, this static, almost unbroken shot of Ingrid Thulin’s character professing her true feelings for a religiously doubtful Gunnar Bjornstrand is timeless, and fantastic.

 3: Persona: The Repeated Scene:

One of many fantastic scenes from Bergman’s best movie is the gutwrenching scene in which we see Liv Ullman listening to Bibi Andersson tell her the truth about herself (well, themselves), only to have, in a sickening twist, the camera turned around as we are forced to hear the entire monologue again, this time with the camera focusing on Andersson. It’s a fascinating technique, and a very effective one. Don’t forget to turn on the closed captions so you know what she’s saying.

4: Cries and Whispers: How You Have Changed

Some great acting here. Cries and Whispers is a film filled to the brim with raw emotion, and this scene manages to capture a lot of it so beautifully.

5: Fanny and Alexander: The Prologue

Largely thanks to Bergman and his cinematographer Sven Nykvist, we have this magnificent epic film, in which every shot and every scene is so beautifully executed that just looking at any of the film’s brilliant scenes is full of so much raw beauty that it’s hard to comprehend how one human being imagined it all to be so perfect.

So those are my five selections. Now I need to know…

Leave a comment with what you thought of my choices. Do you like Ingmar Bergman? What’s your favourite moment, scene or movie from this master? Let me know.

Thanks for reading.

100 Things I Love About the Movies

Recently, John at The Droid You’re Looking For made a sequel to his hugely successful “100 Things I Love About the Movies” post, and being a fan of both posts, I’ve decided it’s about time I did my own. It was a very inspirational and thoughtful post, and if you read it yourself it might just make you want to do one of the same. For now, here’s mine:

1: Hi-hi-hi there, at last we meet.

2: The shaking fence in Evil Dead.

3: A rape depicted through the clever usage of a silent movie in Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her.

4: Qantas never crashed.

5: Whatever you want, Leo Getz.

6: The stunning ending to Lars von Trier’s Dogville.

7: Dave. Stop, Dave. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.

8: The best movie cut of all history in Lawrence of Arabia.

9: The theme that plays when we see the man with the Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.

10: Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me…

11: The abrupt ending of Bonnie and Clyde.

12: I’m a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I’m a big bright shining star. That’s right.

13: The final perfect five minutes of Irreversible…

14: …and how The King’s Speech stole the music!

15: Ellen Burstyn’s monologue in Requiem for a Dream.

16: The hand emerging from the water in Deliverance.

17: The final half-hour of Audition.

18: Jimmy Schtewart.

19: The emotion and raw energy with which Kirk Douglas delivers this line in Paths of Glory: “I apologise to you, sir, for not informing you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man, and you can go to Hell before I apologise to you now or ever again!”

20: John C. Reilly shining his flashlight into the camera in Magnolia.

21: Blood Simple to True Grit and everything in between.

22: Hello… Hello, Dimitri? I… I can’t hear, could you turn the music down? That’s great, you’re coming through fine. I’m coming through fine, too, am I? I agree with you, it’s great to be fine. Now then, Dimitri. One of our generals… he went a little funny in the head… you know, funny. And he went and did a silly thing.

23: Tracking shots. All of them.

24: The Monty Python movies (“I fart in your general direction!”)

25: Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

26: Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

27: Steve Martin in The Jerk.

28: Isabella Rossellini begging Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet (“Hit me!”).

29: In Heaven… everything is fine.

30: Did You Know You Can Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilise Your Lawn?

31: That lucky occasion when you come across a really, really good TV movie (Indictment: The McMartin Trial)

32: Get away from her, you BITCH!

33: I am Death. I have long walked at your side.

34: The most striking and disturbing use of colour in any film, that of Sven Nykvist’s brilliant cinematography in Ingmar Bergman’s fantastic Cries and Whispers.


36: The slow-paced and slightly comic final duel in Barry Lyndon.

37: The deadly silent arrival of Martin Sheen into Colonel Kurtz new jungle home, rudely interrupted by an obviously high Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.

38: The first six or so minutes of Persona.

39: This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.

40: The haunting piano music that plays throughout the latter half of Kubrick’s fantastic Eyes Wide Shut.

41: A surprise cameo from the greatest stand-up comedian of all time in a non-comedy role in Lost Highway.

42: Tom Cruise’s finest hour:

43: The perfect opening shot of Apocalypse Now.

44: Bernard Herrman’s shrieking violins.

45: Black and White movies in the era of Colour.

46: The nameless dystopian city in David Fincher’s Se7en.

47: Uncomfortably casual nudity in Short Cuts.

48: Marge Gunderson.

49: Nobody fucks with the Jesus.

50: Bring Out the Gimp.

51: Norma Desmond’s delusions of grandeur.

52: The drug deal scene in Boogie Nights.

53: I only got two things in this world: my balls and my word. And I don’t break em for nobody.

54: Robert Downey, Jr. in Natural Born Killers.

55: The “train going into the tunnel” at the very end of North by Northwest, a clever albeit overused sexual metaphor.

56: Ricky Gervais. Always. Always.

57: A movie set entirely within one room (i.e. Buried)

58: Rob Brydon’s cameo in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

59: Nothing’s wrong with it, Tommy. It’s tip top. I’m just not sure about the colour.

60: I am Jack’s _____ ______.

61: Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, oh, and while we’re at it…

62: 80s high school movies. All of them.

63: The epilogue of Pink Flamingos.

64: Clerks. ‘Nuff said.

65: Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!

66: Silencio.

67: Earn this. Earn it.

68: The final shot of the rat at the end of The Departed.

69: Extended Director’s Cuts.

70: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

71: The inability of Jack Lemmon to be able to watch Grand Hotel in The Apartment.

72: Memorable last lines in Billy Wilder movies.

73: We’re a loving couple that doesn’t touch.

74: Sunday nights, where I put aside a few hours to rewatch one of my favourite movies, no matter what it is or how many times I’ve seen it.

75: The creepy hidden camera shots in Michael Haneke’s Cache.

76: Amelie’s strange games with random people in the film of the same name.

77: Go round mums, deal with Phillip, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

78: Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure: “In the water, I’m a very skinny lady.”

79: Sidney Lumet. Rest in Peace.

80: The final shocking moments of Planet of the Apes.

81: The meaning of Roger O. Thornhill’s middle initial.

82: Martin Scorsese’s cameo in Taxi Driver.

83: Gregory Peck’s powerful courtroom monologue in To Kill A Mockingbird…

84: …and the uniquely different but still subtly similar version presented by a suprisingly good Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill.

85: Dustin Hoffman’s moving turn as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy…

86: …and the eerie subtle similarities between Jon Voight’s character in the same movie and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

87: Mr. Jingles.

88: I just wanted to hold the little baby.

89: You mean the man who inserted rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?

90: The stunning revelation at the end of Spoorloos (The Vanishing).

91: How quickly a director can take my interest, and how stunningly tight their grip remains on me within the shortest of times, and how it can last seemingly forever, as evidenced by my recent delve into the films of Ingmar Bergman.

92: Hit Girl.

93: Bill Murray waking up to the same nauseatingly repetitive jingle every morning in Groundhog Day.

94: Reese Witherspoon humiliating a disfigured Kiefer Sutherland in Freeway.

95: The little bit of low-budget masterpiece that was Sex, Lies and Videotape.

96: Dogme 95.

97: The Criterion Collection.

98: The little things in movies that so few directors really think to care about.

99: How movies affect my everyday life, the way I do things, the little idiosyncrasies that people rarely notice, and how I think and perceive things.

100: “I’m finished.”

Weekend at Bergman’s: Five Great Films Directed by Ingmar Bergman

His name rings through the annals of film history, echoing through the dark infinite halls, a hauntingly recognisable title. It bounces off the walls of film and television, recurring such beautiful images as the one above in our minds, as clear and crisp as they were on the day he filmed them. This is a man who has literally created… history.

I say these words with assured clarity and certainty, but yet, I was only introduced to his films about a month ago. My friend has numerous posters in his room, more so than normal, all of them decent film posters, some of them relics. But, the king of them all, dead in the centre, is that of a film called Persona. I asked him, “what’s Persona, and why haven’t I heard of it?” He knew that I had only recently become a film fanatic, so he excused my blatant Bergman naivety, and introduced me to a whole world of classic, startling pictures that, to put it lightly, blew me away.

Since then I’ve compulsively watched every Bergman film I could find (well… borrow) and I’ve totalled a neat eight films from the black-and-white mastermaker. I know, it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a start, isn’t it?

Anyway, these are my five favourites, counting down, from this cinematic lord…

5: Fanny and Alexander (1982)

Bergman’s final film before a long string of unrecongised television movies, this whopper of a five hour masterpiece (or three hours, if you want the short version) tells the epic and disturbing tale of a brother and sister and the events that shape their life within the course of one tumultuous year. This has everything you could ever want from a Bergman movie, and is a fine example of his work and the places it has taken him. It’s nice, too, to get a movie this long that can really be described as an epic. I mean, the ninety minute movies were fine and dandy, but its great to know Bergman released a good and long pacing movie, which brings him to Lean-like status in my book. I tell a lie, he’s better than Lean, and this is one of the five that proves it.

4: The Seventh Seal (1957)

Some are undoubtedly going to disagree with the placing of this at fourth, but I must argue for it. Just because this is in fourth doesn’t mean it’s not one of my favourites. The Seventh Seal is a stunning, captivating journey in which a travelling young man (Max von Sydow, anyone?), haunted by the spectre of Death (who has long walked at his side, apparently) who attempts to journey home to his wife. Along the way he meets various people and is greeted with various sights, from pleasant to disturbing, in a quest not only for home but for answers; religious truth, a reality check, something to let him know life is not pointless. Bergman shows us many awesome sights, from the unique shot of the two mains engaged in a chess battle to one of the final stunning shots, which can be seen at the top of the page of this post.

3: Cries and Whispers (1972)

Of all the great cinematography from the legendary Sven Nykvist in the films of Bergman, it was perhaps never as shocking and striking as in Cries and Whispers. The first thing that struck me about this movie was the colour. Red. Red. RED. It is a chilling blood red that completely fills the frame in nearly every shot, and the fades to red at the end of the scenes must be some fantastic way of engulfing the viewer into the fragile and stunningly emotive world of the human soul. Bitter resentment, hatred, love and ignorance decorate the characters minds and souls as they come together to mourn the sickness and eventual death of their sister. There are countless things about this movie that make it a masterpiece, and I’m glad to be able to say that in a year dominated by The Godfather, there was an alternate offer that was equally as difficult to refuse.

2: Persona (1966)

A visual stunner with references dating to the birth of cinema and some dreamlike sequences that no doubt were an influence on David Lynch as well as beautifully delivered monologues and haunting imagery all combine to present us with a flawless and fabulous examination of humanity and existence, personalities, differences and unnoticeably obvious similarities. From its opening prologue which is undeniably one of the best, most provocative opening sequences in film, to the numerous observations of film as a whole and the casual reminders that we are watching a film, such as a flickering projector which begins to run and then stops sudden at the end. The merging personalities which decorate the film eventually turn into merging physical identities, as in the startling image of the two faces as one, a shocking reminder of the lesson the entire film teaches us: we are not as different as we think.

1: Winter Light (1963)

Of the countless Bergman films which examined religious doubt and a general loss of faith, none were as bleak or powerful as IB’s timeless classic Winter Light. A more than bite sized portion of an excellent trilogy dealing with that aforementioned theme, Winter Light tells of a pastor who has lost his faith, almost completely, and spends most of the eighty minute run time contemplating his life and everything he’s ever done for religion. Is it all in vain? Is there really a God? He just doesn’t know anymore, and for a pastor such as he, it is a sad, depressing thing to see. His “girlfriend,” a lonely and intelligent woman (Ingrid Thulin) deliveres a deeply passionate monologue through the form of an extended but not long letter that is punctuated with the fluid language of Bergman that is a wonder to behold. The pastor himself (Gunnar Bjornstrand) is warrented a much-deserved monologue as Bergman’s quiet but deadly little examination of faith draws slowly to its close. It’s not an eventful film, per se, but it emotionally speaks volumes about life, love, religion, existence and everything that ever mattered. A masterpiece.

So there you have it! My five favourites of Ingmar Bergman, so far. These are five classic movies that I highly recommend. I very nearly may have missed out on the Bergman experience, but I luckily stumbled upon a friend–and a movie–which changed everything.

I urge you to see these films, and if you already have, please leave a comment telling me what you think of my choices and reviews and… anything in general about the post.

Thanks for reading.