I'm sure my first exposure to Ingmar Bergman is not uncommon. Woody Allen loved the man so much that it permeates the screen. I remember hearing Bergman's name come up in Mary Wilkie's Academy of the Overrated in Manhattan, but I had little knowledge of the man or why Mary would hate The Silence so much. Max von Sydow's presence in Hannah and Her Sisters has little effect if you've never seen The Seventh Seal or any other work von Sydow did for Bergman.
I have only seen two Bergman films, but both are in my Top 100. The Seventh Seal and The Virgin Spring are films that captivate upon first sight and unlock hidden meanings with successive viewings, like all great films. What appears to be a very cold, distant style gives way to an all too human drama. It is a sad realization that we cannot hold off death forever, but we can feel better about it if we can give life to someone else. Hope literally springs from the death of a young girl. Bergman often works in metaphors, as with a man's attempt to take down a sapling.
I wish I could talk more about Bergman. It's sad that the man had to die for me to put his films near the top of my "To See" list. First this week, we have the beginning of The Seventh Seal:
Next, a dream from Wild Strawberries:
Finally, French and Saunders have another one of those Bergman days: