100 years of Bergman: IFFI to pay homage to art-house cinema's celebrated auteur

Bergman-Ingmar Ingmar Bergman | via IMDB

His films are hard to watch, yet few filmmakers have probed the human psyche with as much curiosity and intellectual precision as Ingmar Bergman. His lifelong preoccupation with themes of spiritual crisis, death, loneliness, dreams, sexual desire and the fragility of human relationships have made Bergman one of the most significant voices of international art-house cinema in the 20th century.

Born in 1918 at Uppsala to a Lutheran minister father who later became chaplain to the king of Sweden, Bergman has created poetry on screen from melancholy and existential despair.

As the global film community celebrates his 100th birth anniversary, prestigious home video company The Criterion Collection will release the most exhaustive compilation of his films titled Ingmar Bergman's Cinema. It contains the most up-to-date restored versions of 39 classics, including The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander, in addition to his less popular works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life. It also contains a book of essays and over 30 hours of supplemental features. Priced close to Rs 18,000, this ultimate Bergman collection comes at a hefty price. But if you missed any of the recollective viewings of his films this year, here's another slice of 'Bergmania'.

The 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will pay homage to the master storyteller in his centennial year. The eight-day long IFFI—starting November 20 and organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Directorate of Film Festivals and the Government of Goa—will showcase seven best films of his career, including Wild Strawberries, the most representative of his works spanning over 60 films made in 59 years of filmmaking. A 2004 documentary on Bergman titled Bergman Island directed by Marie Nyrerod is also included in this retrospective. Bergman Island is considered to offer the most intimate look into the thoughts, regrets, dreams and distress of the definitive auteur in a series of candid interviews conducted in his home in Faro Island in the Baltic sea.

In Summer with Monika, two young lovers escape the stifling environs of their working-class families for a quiet, romantic beach before they are forced to confront reality again. The Seventh Seal, in which Bergman most uninhibitedly grapples with questions of faith and mortality, is about a knight who is keen to execute at least one good deed before he dies. While the magisterial Persona concerns a nurse whose in-charge includes an actress gradually retiring into complete silence, the hauntingly titled Autumn Sonata returns to the suffering of women, a theme Bergman handled with singular care and attention—it observes a ravaging confrontation between a mother and her daughter.

Saraband and Fanny and Alexander were both meant for the television and declared his retirement from filmmaking. They also most closely depicted his love for theatre. In Fanny and Alexander, an intimate family portrait comes alive through the eyes of a 10-year-old Alexander and his sibling; it is the most autobiographical of Bergman films. And Saraband, his last film, reconnects a character Marianne from a previous film to the lover she left behind.

The 49th edition of IFFI will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries this year.