Look-alike of the day

Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, 1929)


Aus dem Leben der Marionetten, 1980 (Christine Buchegger, Robert Atzorn).

Thanks to Martin Florio!

Archival object of the day

In a notebook, mostly containing ideas for The Magician, Bergman, like most of us, from time to time, complains a little. The Seventh Seal has just opened, and the rehearsals for Peer Gynt are wearing him out. 'I'm fed up,' he exclaims, and continues:

'What I most feel like doing is of course that Uppsala movie. The world of childhood. I have no name but many images keep coming all by themselves and [unreadable]. I only need to try and catch them.'

The year is 1957, so it only took him some thirty years to get it done.

This just in

New arrivals from Norstedts Agency!

Even non-Italian speakers can probably guess that the book to the right is an Italian publication of The Magic Lantern.

That the left is a translation of Sunday's Children might be trickier for most people, though. But then you open and read the first sentence, and go, ah, yes, of course!

"Emlékszem, hogy nagyanyámnak és Carl bácsikámnak is komoly kifogásai voltak a nyaralónkkal szemben, de más-más okból."

So what language is it? (Hungarians are out of the competition.)

A 'Fanny and Alexander Christmas'

[Recycling a post from last year.]

Swedes, for some reason, yearn for a Christmas celebration Fanny and Alexander-style. Oh yes, isn't it a joy when Uncle Carl takes to the bottle and abuses his wife. Or when Gustaf Adolf is cheating on his. Not to mention when daddy Oscar has a heart attack. The Ekdahl brothers sure know how to celebrate.

Happy holidays!

"Ingen må i mörkret bliva kvar, en god jul till alla och envar."
Foto: Arne Carlsson © AB Svensk Filmindustri

PS. What Alexander says above roughly translates as "No one shall remain in the dark. Merry christmas everyone." (But it rhymes in the original.)

PPS. This blog will be back once we're through celebrating Hannukkah, Christmas, New Year's, Epiphany and everything else we can think of – all in Fanny and Alexander-style.

Archival object of the day

Educated guess on Bergman's most famous images: first (and there's no contest) is Death playing chess in The Seventh Seal. Then the dance of death in the final scene of the same film. For the bronze medal, the race is tighter: the pietà scene from Cries and Whispers, perhaps? Or Isak Borg picking Wild Strawberries? Or perhaps this one (here on a Spanish poster):

Oh, well, who knows. But admit it's a little fun to see Bergman's first sketch to the famous shot. (No, drawing wasn't exactly Bergman's strong suit; he could, obviously, make amazing pictures anyway.)

Saturday song # 6

Cosy up this weekend with a smattering of Bergman-related musical entertainment! Every Saturday [update: a Saturday every now and then], we offer up a new song that relates to Bergman in some interesting manner. Over time, we plan on building up a pretty-little playlist suitable for any occasion, aptly entitled The Original Ingmar Bergman Spotify Playlist. (For more on Bergman and music, click here.)

Saturday song #6 is:

Benjamin Britten, Suite No 3 for Solo Cello Opus 87: VII Recitativo: Fantastico. Cello: Truls Mørk. Virgin Classics, 2001.

None of Bergman’s films contain as much music as Fanny and Alexander. And out of all the music that does appear, there are two particular pieces which stand out from the rest: Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat major (the funereal march of the second movement comprises the main theme of the film), and Siciliana from Bach'ss Sonata No. 2 in E-flat major for flute and harpsichord,which Bishop Vergerus incessantly plays.

There is also something worth mentioning about the two Britten pieces which Bergman selects, as they are so blaringly anachronistic. All other music in the film either predates or is contemporary with the plot. In other words, classical.

Britten’s cello suites, however, were written in the 1960s and 70s, and despite their Bach references, they sound as contemporary as can be.

We shall never quite know precisely why Bergman included the apparently unsuitable Britten pieces in Fanny and Alexander, but one cannot ignore the fact that the third suite’s recitative is named “Fantastico” and appears in the film at literally the most fantastic moment – when Isak Jacobi arrives to free the children from the bishop’s home (however did that happen?); as well as accompanying Oscar’s ghost on his visit to his mother.

Return to sender?

I'm sorting letters. There are some 10.000 letters to and from Bergman in the archive, only about half of which have been catalogued yet. This will keep us busy for a while. (Deciphering scrawls, or tracking down the person who signed a letter 19 September 1982 with "Lars", does take a while.)

Usually, however, we're doing just fine. The letters are neatly sorted and catalogued, before they end up in archive boxes and eventually (if at all) someone asks to read them.

Anyway. If you look carefully at the letters above, you'll notice their postmarks are from July 2007. Ingmar Bergman died 30 July that year, and so the letters were never opened. I cannot bring myself to do it either.

'Even if prayer is just a cry into an empty space, we should not desist from that cry,' Bergman writes in his notebook 24 July 1964, almost exactly fortythree years earlier.

Saturday song # 5

Cosy up this weekend with a smattering of Bergman-related musical entertainment! Every Saturday [update: a Saturday every now and then], we offer up a new song that relates to Bergman in some interesting manner. Over time, we plan on building up a pretty-little playlist suitable for any occasion, aptly entitled The Original Ingmar Bergman Spotify Playlist. (For more on Bergman and music, click here.)

Satuday song #5 is:

Franz Schubert, 'Der Leiermann' from Die Winterreise, D 911 (1827)
Klaus Mertens (baritone); Tini Mathot (fortepiano).
Challenge Classics. 2006.

The main character of the television piece In the Presence of a Clown is uncle Carl Åkerblom, engineer and recurring Bergman figure. Set in the early 20th century, the film opens with Åkerblom sitting alone in his hospital room – he is admitted in an asylum – playing the same piece over and over again on a grammophone: the first eight measures of 'Der Leiermann' ('The Organ Grinder'), the last lied of Schubert's cycle Die Winterreise.

Discharged from the hospital, Åkerblom starts working on what is meant to be the world's first talkie, about 'the passionate love story between the genius Franz Schubert and fille de joie Mizzi Veith.'

For this reason, Käbi Laretei and Hanns Rodell perform a number of Schubert pieces in this TV film. Seemingly a bit odd that this very composer should feature so prominently in such a late Bergman production, as only one other Schubert piece is featured in all his other films, when Impromptu Nr. 3 from Theme and Variations in B-Major makes a brief aural appearance in Fanny and Alexander.

Bergmans script is subtitled 'Eight improvisations, with the eighth written as a rondel'.

Hence, and as so many times before, Bergman  thought of his opus not only to be about music, but also being music.

Archival object of the day

Hand writings, Drafts, Sketches
[Notebook No 48 / Ingmar Bergman]
c:a 55 p., c:a 12 sketches ; 22 x 17 cm
Spiral pad (notes from both directions). Undated. Text on cover: "This is my notebook. My name is Ingmar Bergman" ... Notes from Mäster-Olofsgården, thoughts about theatre, letter drafts, manuscript fragments and sketches.

' – will take whoever nicks this notebook.'

Archival object of the day

[Planning calendar 1975]
[120] s. ; 10 x 26 cm
Contains misc. notes, including rehearsal hours for Twelfth Night and shooting of Face to Face and journal entries + drawn devils (28 August).

This day, thirty-eight years ago, Bergman was in New York City. During the day, he had time for a lunch (in a rocking skyscraper) sell the world rights for Face to Face to Dino de Laurentiis and watch Liv Ullmann in her Broadway debut A Doll's House (which, by the way, she now plans to stage her own translation of).

Who has access to the archives?

Ingmar Bergman’s Deed of Gift stipulates that the collection is to be made available to qualified researchers as well as to established writers. Access requires a granted Application. The materials can be researched in the Swedish Film Institute library. No materials, including photocopies etc., can leave the premises. For further regulations, see the Application form.