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Ingmar Bergman Retrospective Showcases Film Legacy at Boise State, The Flicks

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Picture the scene: A knight errant steps into a confessional, where he tells the priest that he feels like his life has been meaningless, and he yearns to do “one meaningful deed.” He then says that he has been playing a game of chess with the personification of Death to forestall his own demise, and explains his strategy for beating the reaper. Stepping out of the booth, he discovers he hasn’t been talking to a priest at all, but Death, who now knows how to beat him.

That is one of many now-iconic scenes in The Seventh Seal (1957), a film by Ingmar Bergman—who, if he were alive today, would have turned 100 in July. Bergman is perhaps one of the most influential filmmakers ever, famed for the visual vocabulary he developed to express universal human emotions. Like Charlie Chaplin’s, Bergman’s films are for the whole world, and Boise State University has joined other institutions around the globe in celebrating the centenary of his birth.

“All these great cities across the world are honoring him,” said Boise State University Associate Professor of Music Dr. Michael Porter. “Now that we have this wonderful school of the arts at Boise State, why not take advantage of all this?”

The retrospective began on Oct. 22, when Dr. Rulon Wood, an assistant professor of communication, delivered a talk and presented a screening of Wild Strawberries (1957) in the Morrison Center, followed by The Virgin Spring with Theater Department Chair Richard Klautsch, The Silence (1964) with Porter and Cries and Whispers (1972) with Assistant Professor of Communications Ryan Cannon. The Bergman Centenary Celebration ends on Friday, Oct. 26, with a screening of The Seventh Seal at The Flicks, presented by Professor Thomas Sobchack of the University of Utah.

Porter said the event is meant to celebrate the life of a great filmmaker, but also to introduce him to new audiences. Bergman’s wide-ranging influence, not just on other filmmakers but across a variety of fields, lent the retrospective an interdisciplinary approach. Porter is, after all, a professor of music, who said he was impressed by Bergman’s use of music by classical great Johann Sebastian Bach in The Silence.



“There’s so much of a melody and a counter melody, so much dialogue between the lines … and that’s the aspect that inspired Bergman,” he said.