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Searching for Ingmar Bergman

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta

Classification N/A; 90 minutes

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Margarethe von Trotta in Searching for Ingmar Bergman (2018).

Even if you can somehow not name a single Ingmar Bergman film on the spot, you know his work. Images from The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and the massive undertaking that is Scenes from a Marriage have seared themselves into the cultural consciousness and inspired generations of cinema’s brightest minds. (At the very least, you’ve seen Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.) To mark the 100th anniversary of the Swedish filmmaker’s birth, German director Margarethe von Trotta (Vision, Hannah Arendt) has produced a documentary that is more analytical than biographical. Von Trotta, whose own work was much admired by Bergman, doesn’t feel the need to detail every step of Bergman’s life and career, but instead focuses on key moments and films and then lovingly dissects them with fellow admirers. Olivier Assayas, Ruben Ostlund, Mia Hansen-Love and Liv Ullmann are a few of the European filmmakers who eagerly take part in helping von Trotta define Bergman’s legacy, even if no one can quite come to a consensus – which is part of the film’s considerable charm. Although von Trotta skips around Bergman’s filmography a bit haphazardly, and touches upon his romantic proclivities in a frustratingly brief manner, there’s little room to go wrong when a film is seemingly 50 per cent composed of Bergman’s own footage.

Searching for Ingmar Bergman opens Dec. 7 in Toronto.

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