Death of the Masters

I wasn’t going to write anything about the two great icons of European cinema who died last week. Why join the chorus of mourning bloggers writing about the same thing? Besides, I’ve often found Bergman’s films easier to admire than to love, and I’ve never cared for Antonioni.

But some of the idiocy I’ve been reading and hearing moved me to act. I’m referring specifically, but not exclusively, to Camille Paglia Art movies: R.I.P. piece on Salon.com. The general tone is that Bergman’s and Antonioni’s deaths mark the end of film as a serious art form.

No, Paglia, art film will survive their deaths, just as it survived their retirements and the end of their most creative periods. True, there will never be another Bergman, or another Antonioni. And there will never been another Ford, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, or Chaplin. Or another Shakespeare, Dickens, or Bach. Not because the human race is devolving into artless cretins, but because every great artist is unique. If they weren’t unique, why would we love them so much?

Their friends and family should mourn the deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni as everyone mourns the loss of someone close whom they can never again talk to, joke with, or hug. But fans should be happy that these men lived long and (presumably) happy lives, and left behind important bodies of work.

Maybe I’ll reexamine some of my favorite Bergmans, perhaps I’ll even take the time to watch the complete, television version of Fanny and Alexander. Who knows–I might even give L’Avventura a second try.