"I hope I never get so old I get religious." -- Ingmar Bergman

Film Ingmar Bergman has died. He was 89 and went peacefully in his sleep on the Faro Island where he’d settled a few years ago. Not all that long ago Joe Queenan wrote about watching all of Bergman’s films in order. Despite his criticisms his insights stand as a good tribute.

Bergman has, or had, a reputation for simply churning out ninety odd minute depression experiences and whilst its true that some of his work, such as Winter Lights, is quite dark, all of them have a warmth somewhere within, even if it be from the director towards his characters in always giving them a glimmer of hope.

Wild Strawberries, at least to these eyes, is as much a romance as a philosophical investigation into paths not taken, decisions not made, something that Woody Allen noticed when he all but remade the film in Deconstructing Harry.

I can quite honestly say he was one of my favourite directors and if it wasn’t for him amongst other I wouldn’t have the love for cinema that I do today. When I was at university first time around there were three films that really opened my eyes to possibilities beyond the English language -- Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Beineix's Betty Blue and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.

I was intrigued by the video cover, the knight and Death (whom I recognised from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey) playing chess at the sea shore. It was iconic and surreal and I really wanted to know what led to that image.

What I hadn’t expected was a medieval settings on the edge of apocalyptic disease, inscribed by such atmospheric photography. Also the thread of good humour and black comedy especially between this knight and Death even through the former knows that no matter how hard he fights, there’s an inevitability to his fate.
"I shall remember this hour of peace: the strawberries, the bowl of milk, your faces in the dusk. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lute. I shall remember our words, and shall bear this memory between my hands as carefully as a bowl of fresh milk." -- Block, The Seventh Seal
Thanks Ingmar. Take care, wherever you are.

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