I suppose I should preface this by saying that this post does eventually wind its way towards a discussion of The Magician, now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. But before I get there, here are some rambling, mildly personal observations about my complicated relationship with the cinema of one Ingmar Bergman.
I saw my first Ingmar Bergman film so long ago that I don’t actually remember when I saw my first Ingmar Bergman film. Somewhere in the haze of movies I saw before the age of nine or so, I remember the one about the guy playing chess with Death; it’s even possible I saw it in Turkey, which would mean it was sometime before I was seven. I also watched Fanny and Alexander with my parents around the time it came out in the U.S. – so I must have seen it not too long after I made one of said parents stand in line for tickets the morning Return of the Jedi came out. (I should note, however, that I remember almost nothing of that Fanny and Alexander viewing, and I still remember every second of that Return of the Jedi viewing. I had my priorities straight.)
Flash forward a few years. Around the time my parents were splitting up, my mom developed a brief obsession with Bergman. I was 14 or 15, and, having become seriously possessed by the film bug, I welcomed this turn of events. So, we’d go to the video store and rent stuff like The Silence and The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries; I was also spending a lot of time in used bookstores, so I’d find books on Bergman for her (sample title: The Silence of God). It sounds vaguely pathetic, but it was actually a lot of fun. I don’t know to what extent the break-up affected mom’s movie viewing decisions at this time, though; my parents have always been film buffs and she’d seen plenty of Bergman films in her earlier years, so this wasn’t some weird psychological left turn. (There’s a difference between watching a Bergman movie and actually living in a Bergman movie.)