Woody Allen’s “The Man Who Ask Hard Questions”

Posted: August 13, 2007 in All and Sundry, Stumbled Upon
“Woody, I have this silly dream where I show up on the set to make a film and I can’t figure out where to put the camera; the point is, I know I am pretty good at it and I have been doing it for years. You ever have those nervous dreams?”Ingmar Bergman in Woody Allen’s “The Man Who Ask Hard Questions” published in nytimes.com

speaking of questions, a lot of people who are close to me have asked me why i wrote such “angry” piece about being a woman writer, two entries ago, and to them, i am a lost for words. besides, the point of the whole thing was just to rant. i was angry and so i ranted. nevermind asking me about my motivation. please, just read it and you’ll know you shouldn’t ask questions and should stop badgering me with them.

anyway, douglas texted me yesterday that woody allen wrote a wonderful article on ingmar bergman on the new york times. i jumped in glee but because i was in the middle of finishing up pages of scholarly babble, i was only able to read the piece today. as i expected allen would write about bergman. some critics say allen was influenced by bergman’s genius, (even i thought that allen’s one-act play Death Knocks was influenced by the Seventh Seal). in the article allen disagrees with this observation and mentions that bergman was a genius while he wasn’t. (and that remains to be rebutted my dear woody. 🙂 )

there was a lot of quotable lines in the earnest piece–one that i enjoyed reading immensely because it was the kind of obituary that did not reek of self-indulgence and artistic pretensions. the tone was matter-of-fact (yet carries a tinge of loving kindness) and was written from the point-of-view of a fellow director who was at the same time a huge fan of bergman.

i love how allen begins his piece:

I GOT the news in Oviedo, a lovely little town in the north of Spain where I am shooting a movie, that Bergman had died. A phone message from a mutual friend was relayed to me on the set. Bergman once told me he didn’t want to die on a sunny day, and not having been there, I can only hope he got the flat weather all directors thrive on.

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. (read the rest of the article here)

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