Thankful for World Cinema: Bergman Island

This Criterion collection offering pieces together three Swedish television interviews with internationally renowned writer/director Ingmar Bergman that originally hit their airwaves in 2004. This re-edited version, with cutaways and a feature structure, premiered in 2006.

The interview flows naturally with rarely a question heard. It starts with Bergman recapping his childhood and then goes through his career, spending much time on his early days breaking in, and then the rest of it is told chronologically. Then towards the end we hear his thoughts on life and death.

The discussion on the films is enhanced greatly by cutting in clips from some of his most famous films, or other dialogue to support what he is saying. What you get in this film is a rare look at a filmmaker who didn’t interview much, and this was the last one, but it was also not overly-manipulated. He stops, restarts, stumbles, rubs his eyes in discomfort; the master filmmaker, always in control, is very human here.

You learn quite a bit in this film both about Bergman as a man, and about life in general, but not necessarily anything new on film, which is fine. Like all of Bergman’s tales, this too is personal.

To delve too far into the details divulged in this film would be to do it a disservice. It is the perfect companion piece to your library and a wonderful coda to a life and a career, even more so when you take into consideration the titles at the end of the film. It adds a certainty, sadness, finality and a feeling of bittersweet farewell to the proceedings, and gives you the sense that the director who spent a career and lifetime trying to sort his beliefs was at peace in the end.

For any fan of Bergman or of film, this is a must have it can be purchased either as a single disc edition or as a supplementary bonus feature on the new edition of The Seventh Seal.