So, anything happen while we were out? Why so glum? Did somebody die or something?
In the midst of this deluge of Antonioni/Bergman tributes, mourning and the occasional bout of limp or calculated contrarianism, we were visited by the same morbid thought we had had when Robert Altman passed away last year: Is there a point late in a well-established career when a filmmaker begins planning, considering or perhaps even fretting over what will be his or her last film? Altman hadn’t planned on stopping after "A Prairie Home Companion," but it did turn out to be fitting, gently elegiac farewell. Bergman retired for good after "Saraband," shot for Swedish television and released here in theaters in 2004. The film revisited "Scenes From a Marriage" 30 years later, shot in unforgiving digital video with not a hint of softness accompanying that time passed â€” a minor Bergman work but one completely in character. Antonioni, left partially paralyzed and unable to speak by a stroke in 1985, continued to work, creating documentary shorts and one Wim Wenders-assisted feature. Critical consensus seems to be that his last film of note was 1975’s "The Passenger"; his final one remains, unfortunately, the triptych "Eros," a tribute to his work in which he contributes what is by far the weakest third.
Bergman â€” winner!
A very sad day. I subconsciously thought that guy would live for ever. Even though he’s dead now he must still be perceptibly animated somehow by his unkillable Swedish lust and dread. Someone from the CBC left a message for me today asking for a comment on the death of — then static came and it sounded like she said "Burton" and I thought maybe Richard Burton had died, again, or Canadian game show icon Pierre Burton had died, again, and then I realized they were asking me about Tim Burton, which they weren’t of course. So I was especially surprised by this change-up when it turned out to be Bergman. Or was it Shelley Berman? Woe!
And the New York Times leaks A.O. Scott‘s fine Sunday piece on the two, in which he muses that "the idea that a difficult work had special value â€” that being challenged was a distinct form of pleasure â€” enjoyed a prestige, at the time, that is almost unimaginable today."