Thoughts on The New World (2005/2008)

Of all of Terrence Malick’s transcendent oeuvre, The New World (2005/2008) is the one that has the most fanatic admirers. It’s not hard to see why: The film is the best of Malick’s middle period, when he balanced the convention of his early films with the utter idiosyncrasy of his more recent work. It is, I believe, the best introduction to what a Malick film essentially is.

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Thoughts on The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet 1957)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the Golden Horse Bergman Centennial Retrospective.

At first glance, the two parts of The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet 1957) don’t seem to have much to do with each other. One is the famous story of a knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), playing chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot) for his eternal soul. The other is the picaresque tale of a ragtag group of travelers who band together for protection and, having nowhere else to go, follow the knight’s squire, Jons (Gunnar Björnstrand), to the knight’s castle. The A plot is existential, somber, and symbolic; the B plot is witty, satirical, and socially conscious. They don’t seem to fit together at all.

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To Seek and Be Called: Nostalghia (1983)

Nostalghia (1983) is often considered along with Ivan’s Childhood (Ivanovo detstvo / Ива́ново де́тство 1962) to be a minor Tarkovsky, the latter due to its relative conventionality, the former because of how far it goes in the other direction. Written by Andrei Tarkovsky with famous Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra, this film is a mood piece in the strictest sense of the term, in that its core theme is the feeling of “nostalghia,” or Russian emigrant longing for the fatherland, and in the fact that every cinematic element is either sacrificed for this theme or indentured into its service. What results is a work of devastating beauty just ripe for the GIFing.

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Thoughts on The Magician (Ansiktet 1958, aka The Face)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the Golden Horse Bergman Centennial Retrospective.


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Thoughts on Persona (1966)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the Golden Horse Bergman Centennial Retrospective.

Apparently, Ingmar Bergman’s elevator pitch for Persona (1966) to Kenne Fant went like this: “It’s about one person who talks and one who doesn’t, and they compare hands and get all mingled up in one another.” Though not inaccurate, it’s a bit like pitching Before Sunset (2004) as “the story of a guy and a girl who meet on a train, walk around chatting all night, and agree to meet again.” I’m not a fan of metafiction and think discussions of identity (outside of hegemonic oppression) are much ado about nothing, so I only have a few things to say about this Mount Everest for film critics. (The record for best climb is probably held by Roger Ebert’s Great Movie review, which draws blood in the first paragraph.)

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