Yesterday the world lost not just one, but two of the most influential film directors in history. Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman is dead at 89, and Italian Michelangelo Antonioni is dead at 94. Both had a profound effect on the history of cinema, and contributed greatly to shaping film into the art form we know it as today.
Roger Ebert wrote a nice memorium of Bergman, and also compiled a compendium of thoughts from other directors on his passing. Face to Face is a good overview of his life’s work. His most notable and popular films were Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal, both released in 1957.
The L.A. Times chronicles Antonioni’s life’s work in their story about his death from today. He was most well known for his masterpiece, Blowup. I love the quote from the late auteur on how he went about filming a scene:
It’s only when I press my eye against the camera and begin to move the actors that I get an exact idea of the scene. It’s only when I hear dialogue from the actor’s mouth itself that I realize whether the lines are correct or not…. Screenplays are on the way to becoming actually sheets of notes for those who, at the camera, will write the film themselves.
That reminds me of how Hitchcock made films–he was almost never given a writing credit despite the fact that he had at least as much to do with the scripts of his movies as the screenwriter did, and usually more. (Although Hitch would have typically mapped out how he was going to shoot a scene in his mind before stepping on set, as opposed to Antonioni, who was much more spontaneous.) It’s also an interesting contrast to a writer/director like Tarantino, whose screenplays usually read like a shot-by-shot and word-for-word transcript of the finished product.
Although both Bergman’s and Antonioni’s best days were behind them–both in terms of their health as well as their filmmaking–their deaths are major losses in the world of cinema. So it goes.
Update: Ebert today has a nice memorium of Antonioni. Glad that neither director’s death has overshadowed the other’s.