11. About Ingmar Bergman
One of the greatest thinkers to enter into the craft of cinema, Ingmar Bergman created moments, philosophy, and characters in the most inquisitive way possible. The thoroughly symbolic and emotive storyteller would continue to motivate simple originality and boldness of content for as long as the medium exists, and would never lose a bit of its modernity.
Woody Allen, a thoroughly inspired mind himself, said about Bergman that he was “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera”
Federico Fellini, his partner in inventiveness said- “First of all, he is a master of his metier. Secondly, he is able to make things mysterious, compelling, colorful and, at times, repulsive. […] Like a medieval troubadour, he can sit in the middle of the room and hold his audience by telling stories, singing, playing the guitar, reading poetry, doing sleight of hand. He has the seductive quality of mesmerizing your attention. Even if you’re not in full agreement with what he says, you enjoy the way he says it, his way of seeing the world with such intensity. He is one the most complete cinematographic creators I have ever seen.”
Jean-Luc Godard wrote, despite Bergman disliking his work, of Bergman as one of the greatest influences- “Ingmar Bergman, the intuitive artist decried by the ‘craftsmen’, here gives a lesson to the best of our scriptwriters.” He further says- “Should anyone still doubt that Bergman, more than any other European film-maker, Renoir excepted, is its most typical representative, Prison offers, if not proof, at least a very clear symbol.”
Andrei Tarkovsky said- “I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.” And also analysed- “I don’t understand, for instance, how people can talk about Bergman’s ‘symbolism’. Far from being symbolic, he seems to me, through and almost biological naturalism, to arrive at the spiritual truth about human life that is important to him.”
Stanley Kubrick, a great admirer of his work, said- “His vision of life has moved me deeply, much more deeply than I have ever been moved by any films. I believe he is the greatest film-maker, unsurpassed by anyone in the creation of mood and atmosphere, the subtlety of performance, the avoidance of the obvious, the truthfulness and completeness of characterization.”
Krzysztof Kieslowski, one of his contemporary equivalents said- “This man is one of the few film directors — perhaps the only one in the world — to have said as much about human nature as Dostoyevsky or Camus.”
Martin Scorsese said- “I guess I’d put it like this: if you were alive in the ’50s and the ’60s and of a certain age, a teenager on your way to becoming an adult, and you wanted to make films, I don’t see how you couldn’t be influenced by Bergman.”
Satyajit Ray said- “It’s Bergman whom I continue to be fascinated by. I think he’s remarkable. I envy his stock company, because given actors like that one could do extraordinary things. On my first visit to Stockholm I was particularly keen to meet Bergman as I had been a great admirer of his work ever since I saw The Seventh Seal way back in mid-fifties. Bergman of today is not the Bergman of thirty years ago. He has pared down his style to a chamber music austerity. But he is still capable of handling big subjects.”
Paul Schrader said- “I would not have made any of my films or written scripts such as Taxi Driver had it not been for Ingmar Bergman. What he has left is a legacy greater than any other director. I think the extraordinary thing that Bergman will be remembered for, other than his body of work, was that he probably did more than anyone to make cinema a medium of personal and introspective value.”
Ang Lee said- “For me the filmmaker Bergman is the greatest actor of all. His vision and his filmic force, the thing that the Frenchmen call auteur.”
Eric Rohmer said- “The Seventh Seal is the most beautiful film ever.”
“I have seen all his movies, he is a great source of inspiration to me.” Says Lars Von trier, a bold inquisitor like him.
Todd Field said- “He was our tunnel man building the aqueducts of our cinematic collective unconscious.”
Francis Ford Coppola stated- “My all-time favorite because he embodies passion, emotion and has warmth.”
Guillermo del Toro said “Bergman as a fabulist — my favorite — is absolutely mesmerizing.”
Alejandro G Inarritu said on his visit to Bergman’s house- ”If cinema was a religion, this would be Mecca, the Vatican,”
12. About Akira Kurosawa
The face of Japanese cinema, sometimes a God. He is one of the greatest craftsmen of world cinema undoubtedly, and he created expression and moments with an exquisite understanding of a large number of aspects. He had an all-encompassing compassion and philosophy that immortalized his films as encyclopaedias of intelligent filmmaking. He would remain a lasting influence, as long as film is studied.
Federico Fellini admired him greatly- “I think he is the greatest example of all that an author of the cinema should be. I feel a fraternal affinity with his way of telling a story.”
Andrei Tarkovsky said- “The main thing is his modern characters, modern problems, and the modern method of studying life. That’s self-evident. He never set himself the task of copying the life of samurai of a certain historical period. One perceives his Middle Ages without any exoticism. He is such a profound artist, he shows such psychological connections, such a development of characters and plot-lines, such a vision of the world, that his narrative about the Middle Ages constantly makes you think about today’s world. You feel that you somehow already know all of this. It’s the principle of recognition. That’s the greatest quality of art according to Aristotle.”
Guillermo del Toro said- “Kurosawa’s being one of the essential masters is best represented by these, his most operatic, pessimistic, and visually spectacular films. Try and guess which is which. How he managed to be both exuberant and elegant at the same time will be one of life’s great mysteries.”
Bernardo Bertolucci said- “Kurosawa’s movies […] are the things that pushed me into being a film director.”
Martin Scorsese, who was cast in Kurosawa’s Dreams in the role of van Gogh, whose grand vision for the craft is like Kurosawa’s, said- “His influence on filmmakers throughout the entire world is so profound as to be almost incomparable.” He further said- “The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists. But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits. Let me say it simply: Akira Kurosawa was my master, and … the master of so many other filmmakers over the years.”
Masaki Kobayashi, a triumphant representative of the following generations from his land “Kurosawa-san’s works have had a tremendous impact on Japanese filmmaking. We cannot think or talk of Japanese film without him.”
“I love Kurosawa’s movies, and I got so much inspiration from him. He is one of my idols and one of the great masters.” Said John Woo
Steven Spielberg said- “I have learned more from him than from almost any other filmmaker on the face of the earth”
Satyajit Ray said about Rashomon- “The effect of the film on me [upon first seeing it in Calcutta in 1952] was electric. I saw it three times on consecutive days, and wondered each time if there was another film anywhere which gave such sustained and dazzling proof of a director’s command over every aspect of film making.”
Zhang Yimou considered him “the quintessential Asian director”
Ingmar Bergman called his own film Virgin Spring a “touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa”, and explained the impact saying, “At that time my admiration for the Japanese cinema was at its height. I was almost a samurai myself!”
13. About Jean-Luc Godard
No other filmmaker had made artistic propositions as influentially as this giant of the twentieth century intellectual world. French cinema found a spirit in this poster boy of the French New Wave, as he developed idioms and delivered social ideas with the effectuality of democratization. A cultural icon of the highest ranks, Godard will represent fresh, informed and revolutionary ideas in cinema forever. Obviously his radical approach had an impact that was not unanimously positive. In fact, most of his fellow auteurs took immense pleasure in reprimanding his interpretation of the medium. So, compiling criticisms would have expanded this section unimaginably. However, there were some who found promise, some who found inspiration.
His partner and creative foe François Truffaut was both criticising and complimenting him when he said- “The talent of Godard goes toward a destructive object. Like Picasso, to whom he’s compared very often, he destroys what he does; the act of creation is destructive.”
Michelangelo Antonioni admired his Brechtian rawness and said- “Godard flings reality in our faces, and I’m struck by this.”
Orson Welles, who had a love-hate relationship with Godard’s innovations said- “He’s the definitive influence if not really the first film artist of this last decade, and his gifts as a director are enormous. […]But what’s so admirable about him is his marvelous contempt for the machinery of movies and even movies themselves—a kind of anarchistic, nihilistic contempt for the medium—which, when he’s at his best and most vigorous, is very exciting.”
Brian De Palma, was a contemporary admirer who said- “Godard is incredibly brilliant, the things he says. Apparently here in France, the most interesting thing when a new film of his is going to come out are his press conferences, because he’s so brilliant.”
Fritz Lang said- “I like him a great deal: he is very honest, he loves the cinema, he is just as fanatical as I was. In fact, I think he tries to continue what we started one day, the day when we began making our first films. Only his approach is different. Not the spirit.”
Satyajit Ray, an essentially different filmmaker who explored Godard’s style in his Calcutta Trilogy, said- “Godard especially opened up new ways of… making points, let us say. And he shook the foundations of film grammar in a very healthy sort of way, which is excellent. If Godard has a hallmark, it is in repeated references to other directors, other films (both good and bad), other forms of art, and to a myriad phenomena of contemporary life. These references do not congeal into a single significant attitude, but merely reflect the alertness of Godard’s mind, and the range and variety of his interests.”
Jane Campion elevated Godard to a heavenly status- “No one today is as modern as Godard. There has never been a more daring conceptual, chic, and irreverent filmmaker.”
Wim Wenders said- For me, discovering cinema was directly connected to his films. I was living in Paris at the time. When Made in USA opened, I went to the first show—it was around noon—and I sat there until midnight. I saw it six times in a row.
Chantal Akerman found a bizarre motivation in Godard’s work, partly from the apprehension- “He was kind of a pioneer, an inventor who didn’t care much about anybody or anything. And that a man at this stage of his life isolates himself, should also be a lesson for us other film makers.”
14. About Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni was a storyteller with a keen eye for geometry… both internal and external. He was a phenomenon when he emerged, and over his mysteriously erratic career, he had managed to create masterpieces that would remain provocative in their serene observations of conflict of modern life.
Ingmar Bergman was a famous hater of Antonioni’s films. He however found Blow Up and La Notte to be masterpieces of the highest order, and ignored the rest of his work. Later, Bergman said- “The strange thing is that I admire him more now that I have met him than when I only saw his pictures; because I have suddenly understood what he is doing. I understand that everything in his mind, in his point of view, in his personal behavior is against his film-making. And still he makes his pictures.” Bergman and Antonioni by some celestial accident happened to breathe their last on the same day.
Federico Fellini, a masterly contemporary from his own country, was always a support to him- “I have respect for his constancy, his fanatical integrity, and his refusal to compromise. […]This has always made an enormous impression on me. He is an artist who knows what he wants to say, and that’s a lot.”
Andrei Tarkovsky warmly put- “Antonioni has made a strong impression on me with his films, especially with adventures… I realised then, watching this film, that “action”, the meaning of action in cinema is rather conditional. There is practically no action going on in Antonioni’s films. And that is the meaning of “action” in Antonioni films.”
Alfred Hitchcock once remarked- “This young Italian guy is starting to worry me”’
Martin Scorsese said- “Antonioni’s film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by L’Avventura and by Antonioni’s subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries – or rather the mystery, of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul.”
Pedro Almodovar almost shatters the impression of Antonioni being boring by saying- “When I was a child, I remember very well that I saw a film by Michelangelo Antonioni. I was at school at the time, about 11 or 12, and I was deeply interested.”
15. About François Truffaut
The most stimulating entertainer and inquisitor working in the French New Wave, Truffaut created a narrative style with the idioms of the French New Wave that is the closest cinema may have come to music. His films have been exquisitely novelistic with the fluent chaos that it manages to compose like a river. He has been one of the most influential creators of all time.
Stanley Kubrick was struck by his narrations- “There are very few directors, about whom you’d say you automatically have to see everything they do. I’d put Fellini, Kuros and David Lean at the head of my first list, and Truffaut at the head of the next level.”
Noah Baumach studies closely his style- “You get involved in the story even though Truffaut uses narration and techniques that might seem distancing. He knows exactly what he wants to show you, and he only uses the voiceover when it’s either going to get us further inside the characters or dispense with exposition. It gives the movie a classical structure and puts it all in the past tense.”
Martin Scorsese said about his informed innovations- “His love affair with moving pictures was a profound and lasting one, and you can feel the intensity of it in his criticism, even in his acting. And most of all, in his films. Truffaut’s passion for cinema, the desire that it stirred in him, animates every movie he ever made, every scene, every shot… Truffaut carried that sense of history into his moviemaking. […]In Truffaut, you could feel the awareness of film history behind the camera, but you could also see that every single choice he made was grounded in the emotional reality of the picture.”
Arnaud Desplechin talked of his Truffaut experience- “It took me quite a while to understand, I’m not sure that I understood it, but to try to dig what Truffaut was trying to achieve, what kind of revolt he was trying to put on the screen. It was the same measure of anger and vivid violence, but in a different way than Godard.”
Ingmar Bergman said- “I liked Truffaut enormously, I admired him. His way of relating with an audience, of telling a story, is both fascinating and tremendously appealing. It’s not my style of storytelling, but it works wonderfully well in relation to the film medium.”
Akira Kurosawa called The 400 Blows “one of the most beautiful films that I have ever seen”
Wes Anderson whose style is tremendously influenced by Truffaut, said about The 400 Blows that “this movie in particular was one of the reasons I started thinking I would like to try to make movies.
16. About Andrei Tarkovsky
Tarkovsky stormed into the scene, serenely and compellingly brewing universes… of thought, character and style. He defines poetic art house cinema in the way Spielberg defines technical blockbusters. He had a glorious sense of the camera, characters and sound… the medium in its entirety that has continued to inspire generations of individualistic exercise in the medium.
Akira Kurosawa and Tarkovsky were so personally close, and have so many anecdotes attached to their association that compiling all of them would be too difficult. Kurosawa was a great admirer of Tarkovsky’s work and had written innumerable pieces in his praise- “Many people grumble that Tarkovsky’s films are difficult, but I don’t think so. His films just show how extraordinarily sensitive Tarkovsky is.” He said- “His unusual sensitivity is both overwhelming and astounding. It almost reaches a pathological intensity. Probably there is no equal among film directors alive now.” “I love all of Tarkovsky’s films. I love his personality and all his works. Every cut from his films is a marvelous image in itself. But the finished image is nothing more than the imperfect accomplishment of his idea. His ideas are only realized in part. And he had to make do with it.”
Ingmar Bergman said- “When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside.”
Abbas Kiarostami said- “Tarkovsky’s works separate me completely from physical life, and are the most spiritual films I have seen”
Kieslowski said- “Andrey Tarkovsky was one of the greatest directors of recent years.”
Andrea Arnold said- “Mainly it’s just real life around me that inspires me […] But among filmmakers, I suppose Tarkovsky. He has something spiritual about him.”
Author Bio: Deepro became a film enthusiast over a gradual but extensive exposure to classic art house films, entirely assisted by the internet. When he is not busy with his academic life, he is either reading, writing, or watching films.