Monday, October 23, 2017

A World of Liberated Feelings

A sense of reality is a matter of talent. Most people lack that talent and maybe it's just as well.

No, I'd never seen an Ingmar Bergman film, so, yes, I finally corrected that tonight so I can hold my head up in shared film geek conversations.

One of the few things I did know about the Swedish director's films was that they were known for a sense of claustrophobia. So naturally, I saw "Autumn Sonata" in a claustrophobic room at the Westover Hills Library.

There can be no forgiveness.

It was my first time at the International Film Fest the library is sponsoring, but not so the other attendees, all of whom had been there last week for "Tangerines" and been impressed enough to return this week, eager to experience Bergman's late career masterpiece.

It's disgraceful how lazy I've been of life.

The librarian who introduced the film explained that the library hadn't had any Bergman movies to show, so he'd used library funds to purchase some from the one approved source they had. So, if any of us wanted to check out Bergman with our library card, all we needed to do was let him know.

Frankly, if "Autumn Sonata" is any indication, I don't think they're the kind of films you need to watch at home by yourself, if you know what I mean.

You talk of my hatred. Your hatred was no less.

After the film ended with no clear resolution, the woman sitting at the end of my row agreed with me that it was also not the kind of film you'd invite a male friend to join you for - not even a non-alpha male - unless he was a committed film buff, because of the movie's focus on the mother/daughter relationship and all the fraught baggage that goes with that.

You managed to injure me for life, just as you are injured.

Luckily, my relationship with my Mom is a lot more solid than that of the Swedes I was watching. And since the film was made in 1978, they were Swedes wearing a lot of wool (polyester made one appearance in a red maxi dress) while smoking unfiltered cigarettes. And in the kind of place where a person arrives after an extended drive, her back aching, and announces, "Let's go for a nice, long walk." Sturdy, outdoor people.

Sometimes, when I lie awake at night, I wonder whether I've lived at all. Is it the same for everybody? Do some people have a greater talent for living than others, or do some people never live, but just exist?

When the movie ended, there was the sense of a collective exhale after all of us having sat through such painful, personal, up-close scenes of two women sharing everything that was wrong with their lives in desolate Norway.

I did the only logical thing: drove directly to 821 Cafe and downed a plate of black bean nachos while thanking my lucky stars that my lot in life doesn't in any way resemble an Ingmar Bergman movie.

One must learn to live. I practice every day.

Now there's a universal truth. Beats the hell out of existing, not that I needed the mighty Bergman to tell me that.


  1. they'll be other times...don't worry.


  2. I usually try to watch one Bergman film a year, preferably in the dead of winter. The list linked below is a pretty good guide, but all of his films are worthwhile (except perhaps "Serpent's Egg"):

    His black and white films of the sixties are almost a genre unto themselves.

  3. I love that you do your Bergman watching in the dead of winter. Makes perfect sense, even after only one of his films...