Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bergman's favourite films

It is well-known that Ingmar Bergman was a cinephile, and he watched films on a daily basis. After he moved to Fårö, far from the cinemas of the big city, he had his own cinema were he received prints of all films that were released in Sweden, and where he had his own archive of films on tape, 16mm prints and 35mm prints.

He also made lists. Here is one he made in 1994 of his then 11 favourite films:

Körkarlen / The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström 1921)
The Circus (Charlie Chaplin 1928)
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer 1928)
Le Quai des brumes / Port of Shadows (Marcel Carné 1938)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder 1950)
Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa 1950)
La Strada (Federico Fellini 1954)
Kvarteret Korpen / Raven's End (Bo Widerberg 1963)
Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky 1966)
Dyrygent / The Conductor (Andrzej Wajda 1980 aka The Orchestra Conductor)
Die bleierne Zeit / Marianne and Juliane (Margarethe von Trotta 1981)

Here is another one, called "Bergman's 20th century", made in order to celebrate Swedish cinema at the turn of the millennium at Göteborg International Film Festival. It is 35 Swedish films Bergman considered to be particularly good. Notice that the list above has Raven's End by Widerberg whereas this list has Widerberg's Elvira Madigan instead.

Körkarlen / The Phantom Carriage
Gösta Berlings saga / The Saga of Gösta Berling (Mauritz Stiller 1924)
Rågens rike (Ivar Johansson 1929)
Söderkåkar / Shanty Town (Weyler Hildebrand 1932)
Karl Fredrik regerar / Karl Fredrik Reigns (Gustaf Edgren 1934)
Dollar (Gustaf Molander 1938)
Karriär / Career (Schamyl Bauman 1938)
Ett brott / A Crime (Anders Henrikson 1940)
Den allvarsamma leken (Rune Carlsten 1945)
Pengar - en tragikomisk saga (Nils Poppe 1946) 
Bara en mor / Only a Mother (Alf Sjöberg 1949)
Flicka och hyacinter / Girl With Hyacinths (Hasse Ekman 1950)
En djungelsaga / The Flute and the Arrow (Arne Sucksdorff 1957)
Syskonbädd 1782 / My Sister My Love (Vilgot Sjöman 1966)
Här har du ditt liv / Here's Your Life (Jan Troell 1966)
Elvira Madigan (Bo Widerberg 1967)
Som natt och dag / Like Night and Day (Jonas Cornell 1969)
Harry Munter (Kjell Grede 1969)
Äppelkriget / The Apple War (Tage Danielsson 1971)
Vem älskar Yngve Frej (Lars Lennart Forsberg 1973) Made for TV
Det sista äventyret / The Last Adventure (Jan Halldoff 1974)
Trollflöjten / The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman 1975)
Giliap (Roy Andersson 1975)
Långt borta och nära (Marianne Ahrne 1976)
Ett anständigt liv / A Decent Life (Stefan Jarl 1979)
Barnens ö / Children's Island (Kay Pollack 1980)
Mamma (Suzanne Osten 1982)
Den enfaldige mördaren / The Simple-Minded Murderer (Hasse Alfredson 1982)
Midvinterduell (Lars Molin 1983) Made for TV
Mitt liv som hund / My Life as a Dog (Lasse Halström 1985)
Amorosa (Mai Zetterling 1986)
Miraklet i Valby / The Miracle in Valby (Åke Sandberg 1989)
Glädjekällan (Richard Hobert 1993)
Potatishandlaren (Lars Molin 1996) Made for TV
Fucking Åmål / Show Me Love (Lukas Moodysson 1998)

The list is certainly not the last word on which 35 films to watch, and my own 35 titles would be different, but for newcomers to non-Bergman Swedish films it is a good place to start. But avoid Ett brott / A Crime, a really bad film. 1940 was a good year in Swedish cinema, but Ett brott is not a reason why.

Career, by Schamyl Bauman, however is a very good film. Bauman was somebody Bergman was enthusiastic about, and envious of. He was also important for Hasse Ekman. I will be writing more about Bauman in a later post, long overdue. (Here)


  1. I really love Ett brott!

  2. Oh no! Doesn't it quickly unravel into histrionics and silliness?

  3. Andrea Treadle8 May 2013 at 16:19

    I'm glad to discover Bergman liked Fucking Åmål on some level. I wish there were more comprehensive comments from him about all these movies.

  4. Andrea, I've got his notes but only in Swedish. Were there any films in particular you'd like to know more about? I can perhaps translate some key points.

  5. Andrea Treadle9 May 2013 at 17:50

    Hi, thanks for the attention. If he had any insights on Lukas Moodysson and Fucking Åmål, I would most certainly love to know what they were. And why from all his films he picked up Trollflöjten in particular? That's curious.

  6. He didn't say much about Fucking Åmål. "A young master's first masterpiece. We have unreasonable expectations that hopefully will not be too much of a burden. I know he is now working on his next feature film and it's going to be very interesting to see what comes of that." (That was Tillsammans / Together.)

    About The Magic Flute, he says that it was a lot of trouble getting finance for it, and other pre-production issues wore him down, but once shooting started he said that "it was probably by far the most joyful production I've ever been involved with." And the reason for this, he thinks, is that "We had Mozart's music playing on the set through all working hours. It was soothing and comforting. It was an energizing, fantastic experience to have Mozart with you all the time through the heaven and hell of a rough shooting."

  7. Andrea Treadle10 May 2013 at 15:57

    Thanks. But even if it was a joyful production -- and an exquisite movie -- I still can't fathom why Bergman would consider The Magic Flute his most representative film. Lots of great movies after all are made in harsh conditions with severe drawbacks.