Archive for July 8th, 2020

 © 2020 by James Clark

      In 1997, at the age of 80, Ingmar Bergman saw fit to return to his 1980 film, From the Life of the Marionettes, in order to disclose the further range to be found in its turmoil and small triumph. That would have been long after those “in the know about films” had figured out and concluded for others that the maestro had nothing new to show. But those very small numbers ignoring their “betters,” could be beneficiaries of exciting times, far surpassing our many masters of the viral.

From the Life of the Marionettes, telescoping, in fact, back an eye-opener of a film from the days when Bergman’s numbers were not meagre, namely, Scenes from a Marriage (1973), the crux of the matter becomes “speaking the same language.” Most invested in that action would be the language of patricians (white-hot pedants), not nearly as bright and constructive as they think they are, but knowing where the money and dominance are. The 1980 blood-bath studies what can happen when couples dare not to speak the same language.

In the film, In the Presence of a Clown (1997), there is dissonance so massively distributed that clarifying its true conflict becomes quite a struggle, a struggle worth mastering. One way of cutting to the heart of our work is the Bergman standby of optical, dialectical apparitions, wielded marvelously by a remarkable roster of great cinematographers, in this case, Tony Forsberg. The first moment gives us a murky setting and a hand moving  a stylus to a vinyl disc. Two agencies awaiting magic. The label is a rusty-red. In the Bergman film, Dreams (1955), the first scene involves a hand, in semi-darkness, pressing upon a sheet of paper immersed in a photographic solution, by which to disclose a large image of a woman’s lips. Coming into play with this nocturnal effort is Salvador Dali’s creation of, “Mae West Sofa,” a surrealist icon. At the outset of, From the Life of the Marionettes, a prostitute in a brothel, showing pronounced red lips in close-up, dies horribly, but not before disclosing a surprising gift for beauty and verbal expression. You’d think each film, therefore, might implicitly be about not speaking the language of sharp advantage, daring to have a go as an innovator of sensibility. And yes, it does. But, oh, what tiny steps being made! In the film, In the Presence of a Clown, we have permission to untangle the death throes of those being imprisoned by cowardly partners, and their own backsliding. (more…)

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