Sunday, May 1, 2011
SAWDUST AND TINSEL (1953, SWEDEN), SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955, SWEDEN), WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957, SWEDEN)
The 1001 blogger has decided to watch as many films as he can from one of his favorite filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman. He knows despite the potential positive aspects of such an adventure, this road may be fraught with just as much potential for emotional distress. He has made an appointment with his analyst Dr. Berger, who bears a striking resemblance to actor Judd Hirsch, to guide him through the rocky patches.
(The 1001 Blogger enters Dr. Berger’s office)
Dr. Berger: Good afternoon. I’m surprised to see you back so soon. We seemed to make so much progress during our last session.
(The 1001 Blogger fills the empty chair in front of Dr. Berger.)
1001 blogger: Thank you. I admit your prescription of making me watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop was tough medicine, but it definitely seemed to do the trick.
Dr. Berger: Good. So what’s troubling you today?
1001 blogger: Well, I’ve decided to watch as many Ingmar Bergman films as I can. I’m looking forward to it, but am wondering how I’m going to hold up emotionally.
Dr. Berger: Ah, Bergman! He’s a great one for my business. So have you started your Bergmanpalooza yet?
1001 blogger: As a matter of fact I have.
Dr. Berger: Continue.
1001 blogger: I started off with Smiles of a Summer Night. Such a delightful film, but not typical of the master.
Dr. Berger: How do you mean?
1001 blogger: There’s a lot of relationship conflict. Different couples seem to be with the wrong people, but it all seems to work out by the closing credits. Everybody ends up where they should be in the universe.
Dr. Berger: Doesn’t sound like the Bergman films I’ve seen.
1001 blogger: You’re right. But it made me feel good. Made me want to get in a rowboat and paddle to the middle of the lake with my best girl and-
Dr. Berger: And throw her in and drown her?
1001 blogger: I was going to say play my ukulele and sing Yes, We Have No Bananas.
Dr. Berger: Sorry. Like I said I’m used to more downers when it comes to Bergman.
1001 blogger: Me, too. I watched Persona last month. I’m not ready to talk about that one yet.
Dr. Berger: I understand. Ok, you watch your first movie. You’re in a good mood. You’re in one of those Salem cigarette ads playing a ukulele. What now?
1001 blogger: I put in Wild Strawberries next. I’ve seen it before. It’s been awhile. It’s about an old professor, medical doctor, going to receive an honorary award. How he relives his past, his mistakes. How he is a success in his professional life and not in his personal life.
Dr. Berger: How did it make you feel?
1001 blogger: The older you get, the more you do think about these things. The past seems so distant, except of course the mistakes you make. In those cases, thirty years can seem like yesterday.
Dr. Berger: You really should concentrate on the right decisions you made and not the wrong ones. For example, I wanted to be a police detective once, but I don’t dwell on it. I’m glad I went into the head shrinking business instead.
1001 blogger: A detective? You wouldn’t mean like a detective in a TV show? Like…Delvecchio?
Dr. Berger: I wasn’t thinking of television, but now that you mention it, Delvecchio was a great show. Definitely canceled prematurely. Anyway, back to you. Where did you feel you were at after Wild Strawberries?
1001 blogger: Ah, I was not in too bad a shape. But I did want something a little upbeat next to tell you the truth. So I watched a Bergman movie I hadn’t even heard of until recently.
Dr. Berger: Which was?
1001 blogger: It’s called Sawdust and Tinsel. All I knew about it was that it was an early Bergman film about the circus. Carnies, I guess might be the more appropriate term. Thought it might give me a break from the bleaker stuff.
Dr. Berger: Was it any good?
1001 blogger: I thought it was very good.
Dr. Berger: Upbeat?
1001 blogger: Hell, no! Being in the carnie is apparently no fun at all! The ringmaster wants out. His girlfriend is unhappy and constantly jealous. They get harassed all the time by the police and this theme of sexual humiliation. What an odd motif to run throughout a film. I feel like I should have watched the entire movie wearing a protective cup.
Dr. Berger: How do you feel about sexual humiliation?
1001 blogger: I’m pretty much against it.
Dr. Berger: Would you like to embellish?
1001 blogger: No. Why should I?
Dr. Berger: Just asking.
1001 blogger: Fine. Can we move on please?
Dr. Berger: Do you want to talk about Persona now?
1001 blogger: I do not.
Dr. Berger: So where are you at emotionally after your first Weekend at Bergie’s.
1001 blogger: Did you actually say Weekend at Bergie’s?
Dr. Berger: No, I said where are you at emotionally after your first few screenings of Ingmar Bergman films? You must be hearing things.
1001 blogger: Sorry, I’m a little on edge, but I’m hanging in there. What do you think I should do? Should I go forward?
Dr. Berger: I don’t think you should stop now. Don’t be a chicken. Keep watching and come back next week.
1001 blogger: All right. I’m not afraid. Funny, I thought you were going to try to get me to watch Independence Day again.
Dr. Berger: I wasn’t. But it might not be a bad idea to fit it in if you have the time.
1001 blogger: Maybe later. I’ve got to stick with the Bergman plan for now.
Dr. Berger: Suit yourself. You know I really do love that Seventh Seal movie. Why don’t we stand up and hold hands and do the dance of death right now to end our session?
1001 blogger: Because it’s a death dance and would make me feel depressed.
Dr. Berger: Come on!
(Berger leaps up and grabs a white sheet that for some reason has been neatly folded on his desk. He throws it over his head and pulls the 1001 blogger’s out of his chair. The doctor leads him in the dance of death out the door. The 1001 blogger decides to continue with his Bergman films, but is starting to question the wisdom of continuing to see Dr. Berger.)
To be continued