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Monday, 30 July 2007

Masters of Light and Darkness

Ingmar Bergman has died today. The world has lost one of its true masters of 20th century cinematic art - an art that, like painting, may soon become seen as less for all time than for an age, as new digital media technologies alter the beauty and struggle of the original process - a process that involved, more than anything, the deployment of light and shadow across human faces, across landscape, across vast moral and dramatic spaces, but finally, importantly, projected across screens, in dark rooms, with an audience watching. Often considered tantamount to a dream state, gazing at cinema, no other film-maker knit the dreams of film, the dreams of people, into such a rapt suture. Bergman is, of course, forever associated with European existential, psychoanalytic, and Surrealist aspects of film. More succinctly - he was the dark side of the Hollywood dream machine - the side that asked the complex questions about our desires and dark inner experiences. He will be missed, but like few other directors, never forgotten.

Meanwhile, one of the great purveyors of sunlight in 70s cinema, Laszlo Kovacs, also died recently. A cinematographer par excellence, he nearly defines the "look" of American 70s-style movies, with the way his lens kissed sun-dapple, saturating the stock and the landscape with a blinding reminder that one gazed upon something made, something made in the air.

So, a little bit of cinema's light and darkness has left this July.
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