Swedish movies, naturally...
February 23, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

How Woody Allen Discovered Ingmar Bergman, and How You Can Too. part 1, part 2, source
posted by timshel (15 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
"Wild Man Blues" is available in its entirety on YouTube, just in case you wondered whether he's really THAT crazy. SPOILER ALERT: He is really that crazy.
posted by Optamystic at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Woody's obsession with Bergman is a bit strong, but there's a reason for it. Ingmar Bergman is awesome, and his work is more accessible than many people think. Funnier, too. Hell, even The Seventh Seal has a bit of comic relief featuring a zany squirrel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fanny & Alexander has one of the funniest sex scenes in film, too. Guys, watch some Bergman!
posted by shakespeherian at 8:33 AM on February 23, 2012

What is crazy about this interview at all? You can call Woody Allen crazy all you want, but his opinions on cinema are wonderfully nuanced and appreciative (and incredibly humble).
posted by cyphill at 8:36 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well, Woody is incorrect when he downplays his impact as far as turning people on to Bergman's films. I certainly discovered Bergman through Woody Allen's films, and I'll always be grateful for that, as well as for Woody's own films.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2012

Already done it. Maureen Stapleton's been breaking things in my house for years.
posted by sonascope at 8:57 AM on February 23, 2012

I'm sure Allen lead quite a few people to Bergman over the years--but Bergman was hugely famous in world cinema long before Woody Allen made his first film.
posted by yoink at 9:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm only sorry they didn't learn about Bergman from THIS*

posted by sneebler at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2012

Actually, Woody's incessant harping and genuflecting and copycatting turned me off on Bergman. It was only after I stopped watching Woody Allen that I discovered what a master Bergman was.
posted by blucevalo at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2012

Hell, even The Seventh Seal has a bit of comic relief featuring a zany squirrel.

I remember being so surprised at the amount of wit in that movie.
posted by griphus at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2012

I discovered Woody Allen through Bergman (for which I will never forgive Bergman).

Thank you for this interview.
posted by incandenza at 10:40 AM on February 23, 2012

Is it just me, or does Woody Allen now look kind of like Mr. Rodgers?
posted by JHarris at 1:17 PM on February 23, 2012

Thank you for the treasure.
posted by nickyskye at 3:30 PM on February 23, 2012

I'm only sorry they didn't learn about Bergman from THIS*

A loving homage to De Duva/Seventh Seal is also in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
posted by ovvl at 5:49 PM on February 23, 2012

"Wild Man Blues" is available in its entirety on YouTube, just in case you wondered whether he's really THAT crazy. SPOILER ALERT: He is really that crazy.

I assume you mean it's obvious he's crazy from watching "Wild Man Blues," not from watching these clips where he discusses Bergman calmly, without any of his neuroses showing.

I watched "Wild Man Blues" for the first time last night. Thanks for linking to it!

It's funny, but Woody doesn't strike me as crazy in that film. Yes, he's nervous and has all sorts of fears and complaints, but he seems like everyone in my family. (His parents are twins for my late grandparents.) I am the son of a New York Jew and a London Jew. And I live in Brooklyn. Woody doesn't seem like a caricature or an exaggeration to me -- he's just like the people I grew up with, and a bit like me. I have all sorts of "needs." The TV volume needs to be just so; the foods on my plate can't touch, etc.

I guess I grew up in my little bubble, and I'm unaware of how this stuff looks to the outside world. I totally see the humor in the way he acts -- in the way I act. I find it funny, and he obviously does, too. He's very self-aware of his tics and has parodied them in many of his films. But they seem minor, to me. They seem like little eccentricities. Do they really strike you -- do they strike anyone -- as totally whacked out crazy? Do you hear him say, "When I'm in New York, I want to be in Europe and when I'm in Europe, I want to be in New York" or "I get a little depressed every day" and think "Jesus! This guy is one step away from going postal and gunning people down?"

I am also impressed by how, after all the hype and scandal, he and Soon Yi seem perfect for each other. He has opened up the world for her, and she is obviously a calming influence on him. She seems very strong and unflappable. She doesn't take him all that seriously. In "Wild Man Blues," she says she's never read any of his books and hasn't seen "Annie Hall." He isn't bothered by it. I suspect he likes it. She is his escape from his neurotic world. She doesn't reject him. She doesn't say, "You're too nuts for me." She sticks by him. But she also doesn't coddle him. She doesn't enable his quirks. She just ignores them and moves on. Which is pretty much how my wife treats me, and it does me a world of good.

In other news: "Fanny and Alexander" is, in my opinion, one of the top-ten films of all time. And the director's cut FINALLY became available in America a few years ago. Make sure you watch that one. It's long: five or six hours. It was originally shot for Swedish television, as a miniseries (I think there were five episodes).

I think it's a better introduction to Bergman for modern audiences than the films Woody mentions. It's completely accessible and it feels more contemporary than something like "Wild Strawberries." It's also, for me, the film in which Bergman managed to fuse his impulses towards comedy and tragedy together most artfully. It doesn't feel all dark and angsty, which is what people fear when they avoid a Bergan film. It's full of life. It has the best party scene I've seen in any movie. You'll really wish you could be at that party! And it's a story about children, told mostly from the point-of-view of children. For people who have seen "Pan's Labyrinth," it won't be a totally unfamiliar experience. It's also gorgeous -- amazing colors, amazing images, etc. And it's very sexy.

Since it's a miniseries, you can watch it in installments without feeling you're unnaturally breaking things up. Even cut together into a film, it's pretty clear where each episode ends, as there are title cards with act breaks printed on them.

Recently, I had a "Fanny and Alexander" party, in which we watched the entire movie in pretty much one sitting, with a break for lunch and a couple of intermissions for bathroom breaks, etc. Most of the guests had never seen the film not any Bergman films. They all came away loving it.

It's a great movie, even chopped up into episodes, but if you can devote a Sunday to it, do so. You emerge as if coming back to Earth having spent a lifetime in another world. You'll never forget the experience.

Here's a link to a Blu-Ray with the director's cut on it. It also has the "theatrical version" on it, which I'd avoid watching. Watch the Televised Version. That's the film as Bergman shot and edited it. He was upset by the cuts in the theatrical version, and so am I.
posted by grumblebee at 9:06 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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