Bergman’s intuition and the “universe” of his films

Excerpts from Talking with Ingmar Bergman [Edited by G. William Jones]

INTUITION, to me, is my instrument. It has been for my whole life. Not only in the creative process, but also with you when we meet. My intuition is always at work. It always work on overtime. I have trained my intuition many, many years. I have been now in this profession, not only filmmaking but also with theater — and that is very important to me, because if I had to make a choice, I would choose theater. In theater work with actors, you really have to work with your intuition, and your intuition is your instrument. When you meet other people, when you have to make decisions. You know, a director has to make about five thousand decisions a day, and if I sat down, thinking about how to decide, there would be no picture. So, I always work together with my intuition.

Jones: How does intuition work along with rationality and structuring and all that sort of thing?

I have learned by experience that, at the moment when I start to discuss with my intuition, I always make a wrong decision. That’s true. I always decide on the basis of my intuition. […] So, if you can imagine — I throw a spear into the dark. That’s my intuition. And then, I have to send an expedition into the jungle, very slowly — that is my intellect — to find the spear, and to find the way to the spear. And that is absolutely another process. Those are two absolutely different processes. I must know why I have decided like that. Why is the spear here, and not there?

Jones: So the rational follows and fulfills the intuitional?

It is a very, very boring process, yes.

Asked by a student of the Columbia University about “what was never meant to be there” in his films, meaning the symbols that people see in his work, Ingmar Bergman answered:

I have never made a symbol in my whole life. That’s true! Honestly! And if I find a symbol, I kill it because to me, my pictures are like my dreams. Of course, you know we have learned our dreams are full of symbols. I don’t mind. If a train goes in a tunnel, I say, “Okay”. But I don’t use that symbol, because also in my dreams, I have a very strange censorship. For a long time, I made notes about my dreams, to the point where I found out that in my dreams I was already starting to censor. I was aware that I was going to write about my dream later, so the dream started to be self-conscious.

So, no, there are no symbols in my pictures. What I hate most of all in art is the self-conscious symbol, the symbol that is put here like a strawberry on the ice cream. I think that’s terrible, terrible!

I think that the cinematography of the human face has brought to us the most fantastic thing that we can see in art. That is, the human face in movement. […] No other art had the chance to do that and did it, but cinematography has made it possible for us to look at the human being like that. We sit there, and we can see the thousands of muscles here around the eyes, around the lips. We can see how the blood comes and goes in the face. We can see, and we can be fascinated by, the human face in movement. […] I am mad about the human face, and I think the camera is a most fantastic instrument that exists to study the human face and the human being, and if I want to study the human face, the background has to be quiet and to shut up. I just want to have the human face, to have the background be quiet. When I want a landscape, okay. It’s wonderful to go to a place with a landscape and to find the right way to talk about it. I think, in the Autumn Sonata, I have just two scenes outside the house. One scene when Liv [Ulmann] sits in the churchyard in Norway, in northern Norway, very alone, with the mountains behind her. You know, suddenly, it gives you an enormous impression of loneliness. So that is the reason [to have shifted almost everything indoors with a set].

You must know, a script is something very crazy. You try, you have ideas, visions. You hear people talk to each other. You see scenes. You see atmospheres, tensions, and then you have to sit down and write it into words. And then you have to go from the words to materialize the words into the effects in the shooting. That is a very perverse and difficult and complicated way to go.

Often I have said to myself, “Good heavens! The musicians, what a wonderful way they have to work! They have their notes and the bars and the tune, and they know exactly“. The notes are the most wonderful medium between the creative man and the one who executes. But to go from vision to words and to materialize the vision on the screen is so extremely difficult. You must have people around you — collaborators — who have an intuition, a feeling, an emotional parallel. That doesn’t pertain only to the actors, but to everybody involved — the man who makes the settings, the one who makes the clothes, the eletricians, the man who follows with the focus — everybody must be involved and infected by the script, and must have that feeling for it. That is also the reason why I sit down with all the technicians, with the whole crew, before I start to make a film.

[…] And, you must know something else, people think the director is some sort of dictator. He says, “Do it that way”, and “Do it this way”, and everybody runs around and make it the way he wants it. But I tell you, if it was that way, you couldn’t stand the picture. It would be lousy and terrible, because all of those people I have selected and worked together with for years are great personalities. Only when they know: “I am responsible. I have my own ideas about how this has to be made”, only at that moment can they do their best.

Jones: You have expressed a lot about wanting to communicate with people, the NEED to communicate. […] You outline dilemmas very acutely in your films, but will you ever show a way THROUGH a dilemma, and not just stop with the dilemma?

Sometimes, yes. What is important when you make a picture? You can’t go farther than you can. Do you understand? You can just take the steps you can take. You can’t take another step after that. Perhaps you have seen Through a Glass Darkly? There, I go a step longer than I can. I felt the film stops when the helicopter goes away with the mad girl. That is the end of the picture. But I felt that people needed to have an explanation, to have some sort of contact, to have some moment of something else. So, I wrote that last scene, and that is terrible for me today. It is unfair, in a way, because it is a little bit of a lie. Not at that moment when I made it, but today, it is a bit of a lie. I tried to make something that I couldn’t. So sometimes, I know a solution, and then I try to show the solution, but sometimes I can only give the tension, the problem, the situation. Then, I give the problem and the situation and leave it to the audience — to the human beings sitting out there — to make their own solutions, to discuss the picture. You can see Scenes from a Marriage. People think there is an optimistic end to that picture. I don’t think so, because I know those two people, Johan and Marianne. They are coming now into real difficulties, new lives, new compromises, and they have to go ahead with that. When I write a script with some sort of solution, I know the solution before[hand], but mostly I think my pictures are just suggestions. I put it here. Please, take it, use it, leave it, do with it what you want.

Jones: You used to say about people’s use of your films, “I hope that perhaps the light in your soul, that it will change a little”. Do you still say that?

It’s possible. It would be the best of all, you know, if once in one of my pictures, only one human being had got something out of it for his life, for his daily life or for his future. I would be happy. That is the whole reason. If people use my pictures, it doesn’t matter if they are angry or agressive or critical, but just that they are emotionally involved with my pictures. That is the only thing that is important to me.

Esta manhã acordei com terror, como eu nunca havia experimentado antes: estava inteiramente despido de sentimento. Tudo se foi, era como se eu tivesse perdido algo que tinha sido confiado a mim na noite anterior; algo com o qual deveria tomar um cuidado especial durante a noite. Estava na posição de alguém que tinha sido designado para proteger todo um exército adormecido, mas de repente se vê misteriosamente cego, surdo e retraído.

Tudo se foi. Estava completamente vazio, sem dor, sem prazer, sem desejo, sem amor, sem carinho e amizade, sem raiva, sem ódio. Nada. Nada mais estava lá, me deixando como uma armadura sem nenhum cavaleiro dentro.

Levou um longo tempo até que me sentisse alarmado.

Werner Herzog  |  “Conquest of the Useless

Tradução: Jussara Almeida

Embora não goste muito dessas datas comemorativas, mesmo com as “promoções” que costumam acompanhá-las (que mulher não curte comprar um creminho básico pela metade do preço, não é mesmo?), resolvi fazer uma pequena homenagem ao Dia Internacional da Mulher postando imagens de belas mulheres. Mas não de “qualquer” beldade, apenas aquelas que enfeitaram ou ainda enfeitam as telas de cinema e de nossas TVs com seus rostos inesquecíveis. Afinal, cinéfila que se preze tem que honrar o adjetivo sempre que pode, não é mesmo?

E quem são elas?

De cima para baixo, da esquerda para a direita: (1) Juliette Binoche, (2) Vivien Leigh, (3) Vivien Leigh (close), (4) Vivien Leigh, (5) Marlene Dietrich, (6) Winona Ryder, (7) Scarlett Johansson, (8) Winona Ryder, (9) Grace Kelly, (10) Grace Kelly, (11) Audrey Hepburn, (12) Audrey Hepburn, (13) Audrey Hepburn, (14) Jessica Chastain, (15) Jessica Chastain, (16) Jessica Chastain, (17) Cyd Charisse, (18) Cyd Charisse, (19) Marion Cotillard, (20) Marion Cotillard, (21) Marion Cotillard, (22) Cate Blanchet, (23) Lea Seydoux, (24) Elizabeth Taylor, (25) Isabella Rossellini, (26) Ava Gardner, (27) Marilyn Monroe, (28) Marilyn Monroe, (29) Nadine Labaki, (30) Penelope Cruz.

Diz a lenda que, um belo dia, o cineasta inglês John Boorman e um sujeito chamado Donahue perguntaram para um grupo de diretores o que eles fariam caso pudessem filmar com “liberdade absoluta”, ou seja, com um orçamento ilimitado e absolutamente nenhuma obrigação de distribuir o filme.

Segundo a pessoa que contou esta história, a resposta do diretor polonês Krzysztof Kieslowski teria sido a seguinte:

Não acredito em liberdade absoluta. Na prática, isso é impossível, filosoficamente inaceitável. Nós nos posicionamos de forma a conquistar a liberdade e toda hora percebemos que não podemos alcançá-la. E, olhando por esse lado, a meta não é tão importante quanto os meios de conquistá-la; é impossível alcançar essa meta. Então, é óbvio que eu esteja disposto a fazer concessões. E não apenas porque isso é útil. Em primeiro lugar, porque não sei as respostas, e ao fazer filmes, eu faço perguntas. Perguntas e dúvidas, falta de auto-confiança, curiosidade e o maravilhamento por tudo acontecer de uma maneira natural — tudo isso me coloca em uma posição de ouvinte e observador. Mudo meu roteiro constantemente — as cenas, os diálogos ou as situações — porque posso ver que as pessoas à minha volta tem ideias melhores, soluções mais inteligentes. Não importa que estas sejam ideias de outras pessoas. A partir do momento que as aceitei e escolhi, elas se tornaram minhas.

Como um diretor de cinema, sou realista. Uso o mundo dos acontecimentos e o mundo dos pensamentos, e trato-os igualmente. Também sou realista em minha maneira de encarar o trabalho. Respeito o produtor, o dinheiro e, acima de tudo, meu espectador. Não porque tenha que fazer isso; faço assim porque quero. Em minha opinião, a produção de um filme — não importa quão dispendiosa — tem a sua “moralidade”. E tento obedecer a essa moralidade, porque quero obedecer. Uma xícara de café pode custar 1 dólar e 50 centavos, pode custar 3 ou 5 dólares, mas quando ela custa 120 dólares, beber esse café é imoral. É assim na produção de filmes.

O filme que quero fazer é o filme que eu posso fazer. Não há outros; não penso em outros filmes. Não tenho um milhão de espectadores esperando na entrada do cinema, mas necessito sentir que alguém precisa de mim para alguma coisa. E mesmo que eu faça filmes para mim mesmo, como todos os meus colegas, procuro todo o tempo por alguém que me diga, como uma garota de quinze anos me disse, na França: “Eu vi o seu A Dupla Vida de Veronique”. Então quero ver isso [acontecer] mais vezes. Pela primeira vez em minha vida [naquele momento], senti que existe algo como a “alma”. Então, se eu não estivesse interessado na opinião dessa garota, não haveria motivo nem para tirar a câmera da caixa.

(Infelizmente, não há qualquer referência para a fonte desta citação)

Poste by: Jussara

I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen the dark
I’ve seen the brightness in one little spark.
I’ve seen what I chose and I’ve seen what I need,
And that is enough, to want more would be greed.
I’ve seen what I was and I know what I’ll be
I’ve seen it all – there is no more to see!

BÖRK   |  “I’ve seen it All” lyrics

Image via “I pity the violins

A Last Word

OH, for some cup of consummating might,

Filled with life’s kind conclusion, lost in night!
A wine of darkness, that with death shall cure
This sickness called existence! — Oh to find
Surcease of sorrow! Quiet for the mind,
An end of thought in something dark and sure!
Mandrake and hellebore, or poison pure! 
Some drug of death, wherein there are no dreams! 
No more, no more, with patience, to endure
The wrongs of life, the hate of men, it seems;
Or wealth’s authority, tyranny of time,
And lamentations and the boasts of man!
To hear no more the wild complaints of toil,
And struggling merit, that, unknown, must starve:
To see no more life’s disregard for Art!
Oh God! to know no longer anything!
Nor good, nor evil, or what either means!
Nor hear the changing tides of customs roll
On the dark shores of Time! No more to hear
The stream of Life that furies on the shoals
Of hard necessity! No more to see
The unavailing battle waged of Need
Against adversity! — Merely to lie, at last,
Pulseless and still, at peace beneath the sod!
To think and dream no more! no more to hope!
At rest at last! at last at peace and rest,
Clasped by some kind tree’s gnarled arm of root
Bearing me upward in its large embrace
To gentler things and fairer — clouds and winds,
And stars and sun and moon! To undergo
The change the great trees know when Spring comes in
With shoutings and rejoicings of the rain,
To swiftly rise an atom in a host,
The myriad army of the leaves; and stand
A handsbreadth nearer Heaven and what is God!
To pulse in sap that beats unfevered in
The life we call inanimate — the heart
Of some great tree. And so, unconsciously,
As sleeps a child, clasped in its mother’s arm,
Be taken back, in amplitudes of grace,
To Nature’s heart, and so be lost in her.

(Madison Julius Cawein)