“When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying, but now I think it’s a very, very wise arrangement.” – Ingmar Bergman
Swedish director, writer and producer, Ingmar Bergman is undoubtedly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. A highly accomplished auteur who produced multiple seminal works, he is known for his brilliant films like The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966) and Wild Strawberries (1957). Bergman directed over 60 films and documentaries and also wrote 170 plays during his lifetime. Critically adored, he has often been heralded as the greatest artist of the 20th Century.
American director Martin Scorsese once said, “If you were alive in the ’50s and the ’60s and of a certain age, a teenager on your way to becoming an adult, and you wanted to make movies, I don’t see how you couldn’t be influenced by Bergman…It’s impossible to overestimate the effect that those films had on people.” Bergman has inspired generation after generation of aspiring filmmakers, ranging from Woody Allen who called him “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera” to Francis Ford Coppola. That is why when Bergman decided to appear for the first time on a US talk show in 1971, one of the few television interviews he ever granted, it was a big deal.
The Dick Cavett Show has hosted some of the biggest personalities in the world of cinema, including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Marlon Brando, but getting Ingmar Bergman was probably one of the show’s greatest achievements. The interview was supposed to be about his then-current film, the 1971 effort The Touch, but the erudite Cavett discusses a wide array of topics with the eminent filmmaker: fascism, drugs, his estrangement from his parents, working with women, his temper on set and artistic freedom. It is almost impossible to imagine such an event taking place on a mainstream contemporary talk shows where most conversations about filmmaking revolve around celebrity gossip and reductive attempts at anecdotal humour.
While talking about his 1957 masterpiece Wild Strawberries, Bergman said, “It’s a journey through life. It’s one day of the old man’s life and he sees back on his life. In late evening, he is in bed already and he sees back suddenly on his…first love and on his parents and there I have a long close-up. That is one of the most beautiful close-ups I have gotten in my life.”
Thankfully, Cavett’s extensive 60 minute interview with the Swedish genius has been uploaded to YouTube in six parts for everyone to enjoy. Watch the clips, below.