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(Credit: Joost Evers / Anefo)

Film

Ingmar Bergman on the "highest artistic level" of Martin Scorsese masterpiece 'Taxi Driver'

@Russellisation

Undoubtedly one of the finest filmmakers of all time, Ingmar Bergman is the director behind such classics as Persona, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Fanny and Alexander

Such films have gone on to inspire directors across the globe, including the likes of Woody Allen, Thomas Vinterberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, among others who have drawn ideas from his extensive legacy. Bergman still remains extremely relevant as an artist even after all these years because his cinematic accomplishments continue to generate critical as well as casual discourse. In a bizarre coincidence, Both Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman passed away on the same day in 2007, leaving the entire world in mourning.

In multiple interviews, Bergman often expressed praise for some of the all-time greats like Alfred Hitchcock, whom Bergman considered to be “a very good technician”. He was also full of praise for a select few of his contemporaries, voicing his enjoyment for the films of Federico Fellini and his “scorching creativity” as well as François Truffaut’s “way of relating with an audience”. Above everyone else, he ranked Andrei Tarkovsky and declared him as “the greatest of them all”.

As Ingmar Bergman’s filmmaking career drew to a close toward the 1980s, Martin Scorsese’s was flourishing, having released Raging Bull, Mean Streets and Taxi Driver before the release of Bergman’s final film in 1982. As a quickly flourishing director in the industry, once Martin Scorsese won the Palme d’Or in 1976, he would become instantly respected among the Hollywood elite. 

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When asked about Taxi Driver in a conversation about violence in American films with Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Ingmar Bergman was quizzed about the film’s link to the real-life assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan. “In all art today you have aggression and violence, sometimes the aggression and the violence are clean and sometimes they’re dirty, a sort of pornographic violence,” Bergman responded, before adding, “I will not talk about pornographic violence because I think it has nothing to do with artistry”.

Going on to discuss the features of violence in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Bergman comments, “I think Mr Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver is a film about violence on the highest artistic level”. He concluded his thoughts on the subject by noting, “If there will be a link between this situation with Mr Regan and this film, I think the artist can’t be responsible for that because all around the world there are people who use art in the wrong way”. 

Whilst it is clear that Ingmar Bergman admires the Taxi Driver director, none of Martin Scorsese’s films makes it onto the Swedish filmmaker’s list of favourite films, with only three films included in his collection that were made after Scorsese’s debut. Including Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky, The Conductor from Andrzej Wajda and Marianne and Juliane by Margarethe von Trotta, Bergman’s other favourites show a classical love for world cinema. 

Take a look at Ingmar Bergman’s thoughts on Martin Scorsese’s classic Taxi Driver right here.