Tuesday, July 31, 2007


When I first learned of Ingmar Bergman's death Monday morning, the news hit me like a hammer blow. Bergman, a director I've revered since I started getting serious about movies, was no more. I loved his films, but more than that I loved that Bergman existed, and now he was gone. I realize how clichéd this sounds, but I felt like I'd lost an old friend. If I haven't yet posted my thoughts on his death, it's because I wanted to celebrate his life by paying tribute to one of the greatest scenes from one of his greatest films in this week's Movie Moment.

Antonioni, on the other hand, wasn't a filmmaker I felt especially close to. He was certainly a master director, but while I've enjoyed and even loved his films I've never considered myself a huge fan. But all the same, his passing is a huge loss for cinema. Not only was he one of the greats, but he (along with Bergman, Fellini, and the French New Wave) was a key figure of the first golden age of cinephilia in America, back in the 1960s. Films like L'Avventura and Blowup were seminal works for this generation of film lovers, emblematic of the spirit of the age. Hell, the guy was name-dropped in Hair, fer chrissakes. His death, as much as Bergman's, is another nail in the sixties' coffin.

It's impossible to talk about Antonioni's genius without acknowledging that nobody could end a film like him. Watching these on YouTube out of the context of the film can't possibly compare to the real thing, but a lot of the awesomeness comes through nonetheless. Some of my favorites:

The slow "impossible" tracking shot in The Passenger,

The poetic montage of the city streets in L'Eclisse (here set to Prokoviev for some reason),

The mimed game of air-tennis in Blowup,

And finally- speaking of blowing up- the jaw-dropping finale to Zabriskie Point.

Too many cinematic masters are gone, and too few are stepping up to replace them. Farewell, Ingmar and Michelangelo.


Milena said...

Very nice post. My trio fantastico, so to say, has always been Tarkovsky, Bergman and Fellini.

“Too many cinematic masters are gone, and too few are stepping up to replace them.” Yes, and that is the saddest thing.

Steve said...

Aw, crap.

I went away on my honeymoon to the news that Bergman had passed. Now I get back to discover that Antonioni's gone too. RIP, guys.

James said...

I know I sound like a tool by admitting this, but I've never seen anything by either one of them. But a few Bergman films have long had a spot in the middle of my Netflix queue, constantly shuffled backwards in favor of movies I can watch while drunk and playing computer games. I think I'll finally get around to The Seventh Seal or Fanny and Alexander.