He gave our inner life an outer form in his glowing, glowering full-frontal closeups. In filming the human face, he gave form to the human soul.
In fact, Bergman’s art makes it possible to speak of the human soul. But what kind of soul is that? It is the suffering soul. But not the soul under the duress of material want. If his art can be said to be about anything bigger than himself (and it can and it can’t), it would have to be about what he was – a bourgeois European. One could say his art was about the soul of the bourgeois. He asks us to think about how the fat, contented bourgeois soul – the soul from which, ostensibly, all worldly suffering has been removed by a fair and just society such as Sweden’s – still suffers. He convinces us that the bourgeois soul is still capable of human suffering — that the bourgeois soul is perhaps, because of its contented lifestyle, doomed to suffer.
I’d like to get out of the way for the last thought, and quote someone who posted on a NY Times comments section when Bergman died:
July 30th, 2007 1:39 pm
There is a totality of scope in Bergman’s films that mystically inhabits every moment of time and every seemingly unimportant article, along the lines of what the poet William Blake expressed:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.”
Perhaps above all his films call for a life of inner courage, both in spite of and because of the human tenderness, frailty and resilience which his films exalt.
— Posted by Eric Spaeth
10. HOW TO SEE HIS FILMS AGAIN
Individual DVDs of most of his films are available in the Criterion Collection. Then there are these boxed sets:
1. For the total devotee, his first apprenticeship films are on the Criterion Collection’s "Early Bergman" - Torment (1944), Crisis (1946), Port of Call (1948), Thirst (1949) and To Joy (1950).
2. In the Criterion Collection, there’s a boxed set of his 1960s Absence-of-God trilogy, The Silence, Through a Glass Darkly, and Winter Light. It also includes is a fourth film, Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, a five-part comprehensive documentary on the making of Winter Light, one of Bergman's favorite films. The documentary is directed by filmmaker Vilgot Sjoman (I Am Curious — Yellow), and was, in Sjoman's words, "the first and only time that Bergman let someone document his filmmaking from the first idea to the first showings."
3. Scenes From a Marriage (1973). The film was released theatrically in the United States in a 167-minute version. Criterion released the full 299-minute television series as a DVD in 2004.