31 July 2007

Those Who Knew Them: Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Following the passing of Ingmar Bergman, one of the greatest figures in European cinema, we at As A Dodo are extraordinarily proud to be able to present an exclusive interview with someone who not only inspired many of Mr Bergman's works but is also, we are happy to say, one of our closest collaborators - Death. (Readers should be aware that Death is a very busy personification of the termination of life and appears to have been somewhat distracted during our conversation with him, which we here transcribe in full.)*

AAD: Who's that?

Death: I am Death.

AAD: Cor, you didn't half give me a fright. You shouldn't go round sneaking up on people like that.

Death: I have been walking by your side for a long time.

AAD: Well, I never noticed you. You'd've thought I'd've heard something ... what with all the pebbles on this beach. You must be wearing crepe souls ... geddit? Ah well, suit yourself ... Anyway, I take it you're here for the Bergman obituary.

Death: Are you prepared?

AAD: For the obituary? Well, I've had a quick glance on Wikipedia.

Death: Well, there is no shame in that.

AAD: Cuh! Tell that to the readers. But I could do with a bit more time to tell the truth ... I wasn't expecting you right now.

Death: That's what they all say. I grant no reprieves.

AAD: Right ... better get on with it then. To sum up - Bergman will go down in cinematic history as one of the greatest stars in the Hollywood firmament, perhaps best known for her role as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca opposite Humphr ... oh, wait a sec, that's Ingrid isn't it? What I meant to say was that Ingmar Bergman was one of those who, alongside directors such as Godard, Truffaut and Fellini, helped to define modern European cinema. From early comedies like "Smiles on a Summer Night" to sombre masterpieces like "The Seventh Seal", "Winter Light" and "Persona" to reflective pieces such as "Wild Strawberries" and "Fanny and Alexander" he reflected on the really big issues - life, love, sex, death and God - and helped his audience to struggle with them even as he struggled himself. With his regular company of actors such as Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson and Gunnar Björnstrand, his taut scripts spare of dialogue and his careful framing of beautifully realised images he created a truly unique oeuvre.

Death: How did you know that?

AAD: Er ... like I said, Wikipedia. Makes research a doddle - 5 minutes and you can have a slapdash and only haphazardly accurate article on anything you fancy. You must know about it! Haven't you even got a computer?

Death: Yes, in fact I'm quite a good chess player.

AAD: Ooh! I prefer Minesweeper or Spider Solitaire myself. But if you're online I'd be happy to give you a game some time.

Death: Why do you want to play chess with me?

AAD: Well, partly as a metaphor for the way humanity as a whole arrogantly struggles against Death even though it knows that Death must eventually win and that an ever-distant God will not intervene but mainly because it's not everyone who gets to play chess with Death - unless they're Max von Sydow.

Death: That is your privilege.

AAD: Nice one Mr D! I always thought you were decent sort - great turn of yours in Woody Allen's "Love and Death" by the way ... and that bit playing Battleships in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" - genius! Great stuff! ... And now here we are with a board and here I am ending a piece about the passing of Ingmar Bergman by playing a game of chess with Death himself. Who'd've guessed?

Death: Very appropriate. Don't you think so?

* AS A DODO UPDATE - we are now advised that the above is not in fact a true record of a conversation between our correspondent and Death but is merely some of Death's lines from "The Seventh Seal" interspersed with a series of facetious remarks. We can only apologise to our readers ... again.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Playing chess with death - made me go all chilly. Now how about one for Antonioni, Dodo?

Richard Madeley said...

Yes indeed - a very great film and I have the script on disk.