10 Famous Directors Hugely Influenced by Ingmar Bergman

6. Steven Soderbergh

Having been dubbed as “the poster boy of the Sundance generation”, Soderbergh has always remained innovative and ground breaking with his directorial work. Like Bergman he not only varies the style and themes of his movies, but will delve into completely different genres of moviemaking itself from high profile studio films, independent features and multiple movies of an experimental nature.

His breakout film, Sex, Lie and Videotapes was a competitive and energised study of voyeurism, subjectivity, sexuality and objectivity in a world where the instruments of photographic representation thrive. It helped bring about the rise of independent cinema and garnered the worldwide attention to the American indie scene, which is intriguing as Bergman did the same for Scandinavian cinema in the 1950s.

Soderbergh uses his camera to describe the space, the location of his movies as well as the character’s state-of-mind, seemingly with the most subtle and effortless of manoeuvres. Traffic, Che and Scizopolis both draw influence from Bergman’s work through their use of nonlinear structure and morally ambiguous construction.

One of the films that best demonstrates Bergman’s influence on Soderbergh is one of his most underrated and divisive movies, The Girlfriend Experience. It is a film of human needs and desires, one that is strikingly crafted and utterly relentless with its specific focus on these subjects. The director himself has cited Bergman’s Cries and Whispers as a major influence on the project.


7. Martin Scorsese

“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. You would have had to make a conscious effort, and even then, the influence would have snuck through.” That is what Scorsese said of Bergman and as one examine Scorsese’s movies in comparison to his it’s difficult to deny.

Scorsese undeniably ranks near the top of the greatest American filmmakers (or just filmmakers, period) but that relies on his own personal connection with the material he is directing. Bergman’s films were soaked within a sense of humanity because he cared about the subject, used aspects of his own life in the story to emphasise that personal connection with it.

As well as the aspects of his childhood reflected in Fanny and Alexander, Bergman essentially adapted his own existential crisis for the screen with Winter Light. One of Ingmar’s most intimate and autobiographical films, it deals harshly with personal elements of the director’s life and worldview.

Scorsese has undergone a similar process in terms of the films he directs. Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Sicilian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, concepts that the director is personally familiar with and automatically resonates with.

But like Bergman it’s not just a case of creating a film that only appeals to the director, he translates those films and makes them accessible to millions. Guilt stands as maybe his most prominent theme and Catholicism role in dealing with it, appearing in Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Who’s that Knocking on My Door and The Departed.

But there are also the notions of redemption, crime and conflict as well as the repeated and subtle use of father figures. It is yet another example of a filmmaker using his talents to convey a common theme, not just making whatever story they want to, they take time to consider how their abilities as a director could attribute to the project and how it resonates with them.


8. David Lynch

By this point in his career David Lynch’s films have virtually made a habit out of disturbing, challenging or mystifying audiences. Bergman was often described as having a similar effect on audiences with his movies and both filmmakers are notorious for rarely ever approaching a subject in a single dimension. There are layers and layers of hidden subtext behind their films and if you’ll struggle to find directors whose films meanings are so consistently interpreted and debated over.

Lynch says that his work is more similar in many respects to those of European film makers than American ones, believing that most films that “get down and thrill your soul” were by European directors. Some critics have noted strong similarities between Lynch’s Mullholland Drive and Bergman’s The Hour of The Wolf.

Like Bergman Lynch has always relied on the subconscious to provide an emotional drive, his films are filled to the brim with motifs, recurrent characters, compositions, surreal imagery and innovative techniques that you could view his career starts to resemble a jigsaw puzzle of idea, waiting to be deciphered and discussed.

Lynch was an apt pupil of Bergman’s school of thought, leading him to develop a similar style applying multiple aspects of drama, comedy, and horror in his body of work. They can be described as thought provoking or soul stirring, which is not necessarily words one would use to describe films of such stark brutality. But as you look over the work of Bergman and Lynch, you may struggle to find a better way of describing their bodies of work.


9. Paul Schrader

Bergman was a director who deal with outsiders, people who were disconnected from the rest of society but wanted desperately to understand it. Paul Schrader’s career as a director has plenty of subtle nods to Bergman, but nowhere are the similarities more obvious than his script for the 1976 masterpiece Taxi Driver.

Travis Bickle is a damaged human being, there is no simpler way of saying it. Bergman dealt with damaged people frequently in his films from the mental breakdowns of Persona to the physical and emotional turmoil endured by pretty much everyone in Cries and Whispers.

Not only that, but these protagonists are usually on a self-destructive path, seeking to harm themselves and those around them, for Travis Bickle, this destruction arises from his attempts to connect with the world around him, an act he cannot do because he has lost the ability to do so.

This is another trait of a Bergman character, one that has lost part of their humanity, rejecting to feel pain, empathy, memory. The aloneness that permeates Taxi Driver is one of the most haunting in cinema history, creating a portrait of an alienated man unable to establish normal relationships, becoming a loner and wanderer.

There are also so many undercurrents that you can sense without quite realising how, is it the subtlety of which they are added, the dot being connected within my own interpretation or just a figment of my imagination? I don’t know for sure, and I doubt I ever will but by the end of the film I know who Travis Bickle is, I have viewed his life in the most intimate way possible and the same can be aid for Bergman. I don’t know how exactly, but it just resonates perfectly.


10. Noah Baumbach

Baumbach is another filmmaker who has made it no secret that he is a huge admirer of Ingmar Bergman. But once again the similarities between them lie in more than just fandom and respect, they share a similar style and tone that may be hard to spot at first but becomes wonderfully apparent the more accustomed you become with each respective filmmaker.

For starters they both have a somewhat elusive approach to comedy and tragedy. They both often blend the two together sometimes making it difficult to distinguish between them, the whole nation of Death himself performing menial tasks like sawing a tree in The Seventh Seal would seem hilarious were it not underpinned by such a sense of impending doom.

Specifically, when you examine most of Bergman’s films they have such a sense of tension to them, yet they are edited and cut like light-hearted comedies. Baumbach uses a similar method in Frances Ha,on the one hand the film is just a light-hearted misadventure, but there is an underlying tension within the film, a tautness that haunts every minute of it.

Bergman famously incorporated autobiography into fiction films, the most celebrated example being Fanny and Alexander, in which aspects of his childhood were used for fiction. The same can be said about Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, retelling the story of how he coped with his parents divorce as a young boy.

Author Bio: Author Bio: Joshua Price considers himself more of a fan that happens to write near insane ramblings on movies and directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Bergman, Kubrick and Lumet rather than an actual critic and other insane ramblings can be found criticalfilmsuk.blogspot.co.uk.