An Ingmar Bergman Centennial Retrospective at Lightbox Film Center

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Tinsel & Tine highlights



2018 marks the centennial of one of the most influential artists in film history. Lightbox Film Center will join in a global celebration (#Bergman100) September 6 through 21, with Autumn Sonata: An Ingmar Bergman Centennial Retrospective, a three-week program exploring 10 titles from the legendary filmmaker’s extraordinary body of work.

“Bergman has long been an important figure within our film program,” says Jesse Pires, Lightbox chief curator. “For many of our longtime members his films, like those of Fellini and Godard, were a gateway to European arthouse cinema. The stories are timeless and the films are meticulously crafted. It’s exciting to devote almost an entire month to this work with screenings and special guests.”

Ingmar Bergman emerged from Sweden in the late 1940s as a singular artist, infusing his films with a mix of existential questioning and complex interpersonal relationships. He would later redefine cinema as he became one of the first “arthouse” filmmakers, thanks in large part due to the success of films like Summer with Monika and Smiles of a Summer Night with their frank depictions of sexual themes.

In his 59 years as a filmmaker (1944-2003), he wrote and/or directed more than 60 films and also found time to direct more than 170 plays. His films are not exactly happy-go-lucky, dealing with themes of mortality, loneliness, infidelity, harsh parenting and religious faith or lack-thereof. Bergman was raised by a father who was a very strict conservative parish minister, so he was known to say he used cinema as an exploration (or exorcism) of his personal demons.

I'm looking forward to attending the retrospective, as Ingmar Bergman's work is always talked about with such reverence among real film buffs, who speak on the artistry of lights and shadows and framing which adds a noir-ish atmosphere to his films. I think most people who have never heard of him, would be familiar with the image of the knight who plays a game of chess with Death on a beach, that’s from The Seventh Seal. Bergman worked very closely with cinematographer Sven Nykvist who is considered by many to be the greatest cinematographers of all time. Nykvist won 2 Oscars for Bergman films Cries and Whispers (1973) and Fanny and Alexander (1983) The Virgin Spring, Through A Glass Darkly and Fanny & Alexander also won a best foreign film Oscars, However, Bergman himself never won a directing Oscar. His worked was halted for a time in 1976 when he was arrested for tax evasion, but eventually was found innocent of any wrong doing. Yet, the whole incident put him into a deep depression, he left Sweden for Munich Germany. When he died in 2007 at the age of 89, he had been married 5 times and fathered 9 children including one with often featured actresses Liv Ullmann, whom he never married. Bergman considered Persona to be his best work. I'm most looking forward to seeing the closing film Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten, 1978) starring Ingrid Bergman, who was no relation, but it's always funny how people tend to confuse the names.


Unless otherwise noted, INDIVIDUAL TICKETS range from $8 for students and seniors, $10 general admission, and are free to Lightbox members.

In addition to the screenings, the Centennial will include special events. The program kicks off on September 4 at 6pm. with Deep Dive, a new program by Lightbox. An ongoing series of public conversations focusing on a wide range of topics and themes related to films screened at Lightbox, Deep Dive will present informal discussions with artists, scholars and film enthusiasts, bringing the film going experience into a discursive setting and extending what’s on screen to what’s on your mind. This session will be led by Dr. Jan Holmberg, CEO of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation in Stockholm, and will offer participants a thorough crash course on Bergman’s life, work and legacy. A reception will follow at 7pm in the East Alcove Gallery, where guests can also view the opening of the newest art exhibit in collaboration with the Da Vinci Art Alliance titled Truth & Image.

Thursday, September 6, 7pm. WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957, 92 min. b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg—masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjöström—is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s poignant voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is a treasure from the golden age of art-house cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim.

Friday, September 7, 7pm. THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957, 96 min. b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing. Followed by an opening party with food and drink.

Saturday, September 8, 2pm. THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (1961, 91 min. b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). While vacationing on a remote island retreat, a family’s already fragile ties are tested when daughter Karin (Harriet Andersson) discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. As she drifts in and out of lucidity, the father (Gunnar Björnstrand), Karin’s husband (Max von Sydow) and her younger brother (Lars Passgård) are unable to prevent Karin’s harrowing descent into the abyss of mental illness. Winner of the 1962 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and featuring an astonishing lead performance by Andersson, Through a Glass Darkly presents an unflinching vision of a family’s near disintegration and a tortured psyche further taunted by God’s intangible presence.

Saturday, September 8, 5pm WINTER LIGHT 1(962, 80 min., b/w. Swedish with English subtitles). With Winter Light, Ingmar Bergman deftly explores the search for redemption in a meaningless existence. In this stark depiction of spiritual crisis, small-town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation. When he is asked to assist with a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own uncertainty. Beautifully photographed by Sven Nykvist, Winter Light is an unsettling look at the human craving for personal validation in a world seemingly abandoned by God.

Saturday, September 8, 8pm THE SILENCE (1963, 95 min., b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). Two sisters—the sickly, intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the sensual, pragmatic Anna (Gunnel Lindblom)—travel by train with Anna’s young son Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom) to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. Attempting to cope with their alien surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence offers a brilliant, disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void.

Thursday, September 13, 7pm  THE MAGICIAN (1958, 101 min. b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). Ingmar Bergman's The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists. This tale of deceit stars Max von Sydow as Dr. Vogler, a nineteenth-century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test in Stockholm by the cruel, eminently rational royal medical adviser Dr. Vergérus. The result is a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny, shot in rich, gorgeously gothic black and white.

Friday, September 14, 7pm.  PERSONA (1966, 83 min. b/w, Swedish with English subtitles). By the mid-sixties, Ingmar Bergman had already conjured many of the cinema’s most unforgettable images. But with the radical Persona, this supreme artist attained new levels of visual poetry. In the first of a series of legendary performances for Bergman, Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; an equally mesmerizing Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women perform a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference that would prove to be one of cinema’s most influential creations. Acted with astonishing nuance and shot in stark contrast and soft light by the great Sven Nykvist, Persona is a penetrating, dreamlike work of profound psychological depth.

Saturday, September 15, 5pm  CRIES AND WHISPERS (1972, 91 min. Swedish with English subtitles). This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keep vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquility and terror.

Saturday, September 15, 8pm SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE 1(973, 169 min. Swedish with English subtitles). Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring flawless performances, Ingmar Bergman’s emotional X-ray reveals the intense joys and pains of a complex relationship.

Friday, September 21, 7pm AUTUMN SONATA (1978, 93 min. Swedish with English subtitles). Autumn Sonata was the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans: Ingmar, the iconic director of The Seventh Seal, and Ingrid, the monumental star of Casablanca.The grand dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv Ullmann, as her eldest daughter. Over the course of a day and a long, painful night that the two spend together after an extended separation, they finally confront the bitter discord of their relationship. This cathartic pas de deux, evocatively shot in burnished harvest colors by the great Sven Nykvist, ranks among Ingmar Bergman’s major dramatic works.

ABOUT LIGHTBOX FILM CENTER Lightbox Film Center is Philadelphia’s premier exhibitor of film and moving image art. As the signature arts program of International House Philadelphia, an independent nonprofit organization, Lightbox curates and presents an unparalleled slate of repertory, nonfiction, experimental and international cinema. Beyond the traditional movie theater experience, Lightbox delivers enriching film programs with artist talks, live music and other multidisciplinary programs.
Memberships are available by visiting Images and screeners are available on reques

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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