Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ingmar Bergman on filming

As I have been reading the autobiography of Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Lantern, I have been taking notes from it. For many purposes, my blog is also my diary. Short but interesting snippets from the book are also being posted on my Twitter account (www.twitter.com/zafaranjum).

I also want to say, at least for me, this is one of the best autobiographies that I have read, ranking with those of David Ogilvy's (Confessions of an Advertising Man) and Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi's (Yadoon Ki Baraat).

In chapter 6, Bergman talks about his learning the craft of film making. Here he goes:

"He (Oscar Rosander) also initiated me into the secrets of editing, among other things a fundamental truth --that editing occurs during filming itself, the rhythm created in the script. I know many directors hold the opposite view. For me, Oscar Rosander's teaching has been fundamental."

"The rhythm in film is conceived in the script, at the desk, and is then given birth in front of the camera. All forms of improvisation are alien to me. If I am ever forced into hasty decisions, I grow sweaty and rigid with terror. Filming for me is an illusion planned in detail, the reflection of a reality which the longer I live seems to me more and more illusory."

"When film is not a document, it is a dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He does not explain. What should he explain anyhow? ...All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. Most of my conscious efforts have ended in embarrassing failure--The Serpent's Egg, The Touch, Face to Face and so on.

"Fellini, Kurosawa and Bunuel move in the same fields as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness. Melies was always there without having to think about it. He was a magician by profession."

"Film as a dream, film as nusic. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness..."

Eerily, I came across this news item in NYT: Ingmar Bergman’s Island Muse for Sale! My heart skipped a beat.

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