Inspired by The Masters

In the two weeks following the deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, countless tributes to the directors continue to appear. The following excerpts are from just some of them (including salutes by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen):

By A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“By an awful and uncanny coincidence — the kind of occurrence that, in a movie, would have to be taken as symbolic lest it seem altogether preposterous — Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman died on the same day. Since Mr. Bergman was 89 and Mr. Antonioni 94, neither man’s death came as much of a shock, but the simultaneity was startling. Not only because they were both great filmmakers, but more because, in their prime, Mr. Antonioni and Mr. Bergman were seen as the twin embodiments of the idea that a filmmaker could be, without qualification or compromise, a great artist” […]
The deaths of Bergman and Antonioni end a great chapter in film history
By Ty Burr, Boston Globe, August 5, 2007
“The world of cinema mourned the passing of two titans last week. Ingmar Bergman was 89, Michelangelo Antonioni 94. Front page obituaries celebrated their accomplishments and the nightly news tossed up 30-second clips of The Seventh Seal (Bengt Ekerot’s Death coldly moving his pawn) and Blow-Up to remind us of their greatness.

The two filmmakers almost seemed relevant again.

In truth, they’re anything but. The hallowed days of post-World War II art-house cinema — that period from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s when people went to the movies expecting metaphysical transcendence to go with their popcorn — is long gone, and all the Criterion DVDs in the world won’t bring it back” […]
Ingmar Bergman

The Man Who Asked Hard Questions

by Woody Allen, from The New York Times, August 12

” […] I’ve said it before to people who have a romanticized view of the artist and hold creation sacred: In the end, your art doesn’t save you. No matter what sublime works you fabricate (and Bergman gave us a menu of amazing movie masterpieces) they don’t shield you from the fateful knocking at the door that interrupted the knight and his friends at the end of “The Seventh Seal.” And so, on a summer’s day in July, Bergman, the great cinematic poet of mortality, couldn’t prolong his own inevitable checkmate, and the finest filmmaker of my lifetime was gone” […]
Michelangelo Antonioni
By Martin Scorsese, August 12, 2007
“The more I saw “L’Avventura” — and I went back many times — the more I realized that Antonioni’s visual language was keeping us focused on the rhythm of the world: the visual rhythms of light and dark, of architectural forms, of people positioned as figures in a landscape that always seemed terrifyingly vast” […]

In tackling the big questions, Antonioni raised the bar for filmmakers
Like Bergman, the Italian director explored the forces of modern-day existence.
By Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2007
“At the time of their deaths they were arguably Europe’s two most famous great film directors. How very different they were in style, temperament and culture: Bergman grappled with faith and the danger of its loss while Antonioni became the master of alienation. Bergman’s films tended to have a classical formality while Antonioni experimented with very long takes and bravura tracking shots” […]

By Richard Corliss. from Time Magazine, August 5, 2007
“These are the existential blahs that critic Andrew Sarris called “Antoniennui.” For audiences unable to get on the director’s wavelength or into his measured rhythm, seeing his characters suffer in slow motion was like watching paint dry. Movies were supposed to move, not slouch against a wall, and the pace of Antonioni’s movies was a special test for the antsy. […]
“Pro or con, a filmgoer had to be diverted by the beautiful people in an Antonioni cast: stunners like Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Alain Delon and especially Monica Vitti, the director’s mistress and muse for five crucial films. These stars helped Antonioni make anxiety glamorous, passivity photogenic, entropy entertaining. You could say he made “boring” interesting. “

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