Ingmar Bergman's Quotes

1 My professor told me when I started in the '40s that a director should listen and keep his mouth shut. Took me a long time to understand I talked too much. Now I know you should listen with your ears - and your heart.
2 Directing is more fun with women. Everything is.
3 [Interviewed for Sommar on Swedish Radio P1 in 2004] I have asked prominent composers. I have asked prominent musicians. Several conductors. Where does the music come from? What, how can it be that we are the only animals, on the entire globe of the earth that makes music? And why do we do it and how has it come to be? That is something I really would like to know because none of these people I have asked has been able to give any answer to "where does the music come from?" "Why do we have music?" Personally I have an impression, that the music is a thing we have been given as a gift. I am not a believer but I do still believe that the music is a gift, so that we might have an impression of realities and worlds beyond the world we live in.
4 Working in this medium and being a man of the theater, I'm like the common whore. I have an enormous need for people to like me and what I'm doing. That it be accepted and praised and so forth. It's always painful to be disapproved of.
5 Fellini, Kurosawa and Buñuel move in the same fields as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness.
6 [on Akira Kurosawa ] Now I want to make it plain that The Virgin Spring (1960) must be regarded as an aberration. It's touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa.
7 [on Andrei Tarkovsky]: My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle. Suddenly I found myself standing at the door of a room, the key to which, until then, had never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.
8 To shoot a film is to organize an entire universe.
9 New cities arouse too many sensations in me. They give me too many impressions to experience at the same time. They all crowd in on me. Being in a new city overwhelms me, unsettles me.
10 I've had to learn everything about movies by myself. For the theater, I studied with a wonderful old man in Goteborg, where I spent four years. He was a hard, difficult man, but he knew the theater- and I learned from him. For the movies, however, there was no one. Before the War, I was a schoolboy. Then, during the War, we got see no foreign films at all. By the time it was over, I was working had to support a wife and three children. Before, fortunately, I am by nature an autodidact, one who can teach himself- though it's an uncomfortable thing at times. Self-taught people sometimes cling too much to the technical side, the sure side and place technical perfection too high.
11 I'd prostitute my talents if it would further my cause, steal if there was no way out, killing my friends or anyone else if it would help my art.
12 When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying. But now I think it a very, very wise arrangement. It's like a light that is extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about.
13 [on Alfred Hitchcock ] I think he's a very good technician. And he has something in Psycho (1960), he had some moments. "Psycho" is one of his most interesting pictures because he had to make the picture very fast, with very primitive means. He had little money, and this picture tells very much about him. Not very good things. He is completely infantile, and I would like to know more - no, I don't want to know - about his behavior with, or, rather, against women. But this picture is very interesting.
14 [on Federico Fellini ] He is enormously intuitive. He is intuitive; he is creative; he is an enormous force. He is burning inside with such heat. Collapsing. Do you understand what I mean? The heat from his creative mind, it melts him. He suffers from it; he suffers physically from it. One day when he can manage this heat and can set it free, I think he will make pictures you have never seen in your life. He is rich. As every real artist, he will go back to his sources one day. He will find his way back.
15 [on Andrei Tarkovsky ]: When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn't explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. Most of my conscious efforts have ended in embarrassing failure- The Serpent's Egg (1977), The Touch (1971), Face to Face (1976) and so on.
16 I'm deeply fixated on my childhood. Some impressions are extremely vivid, light, smell, and all. There are moments when I can wander through my childhood's landscape, through rooms long ago, remember how they were furnished, where the pictures hung on the walls, the way the light fell. It's like a film-little scraps of a film, which I set running and which I can reconstruct to the last detail-except their smell.
17 My basic view of things is - not to have any basic view of things. From having been exceedingly dogmatic, my views on life have gradually dissolved. They don't exist any longer.
18 Everything is worth precisely as much as a belch, the difference being that a belch is more satisfying.
19 Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
20 I think I have made just one picture that I really like, and that is Nattvardsgästerna (1963). Everything is exactly as I wanted to have it, in every second of this picture.
21 I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.
22 [on Michelangelo Antonioni ] He's done two masterpieces, you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up (1966), which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte (1961), also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau . In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido (1957) and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade. He concentrated on single images, never realizing that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L'Avventura (1960), for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse Monica Vitti was a terrible actress."
23 Among today's directors I'm of course impressed by Steven Spielberg and Scorsese [ Martin Scorsese ], and Coppola [ Francis Ford Coppola ], even if he seems to have ceased making films, and Steven Soderbergh - they all have something to say, they're passionate, they have an idealistic attitude to the filmmaking process. Soderbergh's Traffic (2000) is amazing. Another great couple of examples of the strength of American cinema is American Beauty (1999) and Magnolia (1999).
24 [on Jean-Luc Godard ] I've never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He's made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin Féminin (1966), was shot here in Sweden. It was mind-numbingly boring.
25 [on Orson Welles ] I've never liked Welles as an actor, because he's not really an actor. In Hollywood you have two categories, you talk about actors and personalities. Welles was an enormous personality, but when he plays Othello, everything goes down the drain, you see, that's when he croaks. In my eyes he's an infinitely overrated filmmaker.
26 [on Orson Welles ] For me he's just a hoax. It's empty. It's not interesting. It's dead. Citizen Kane (1941), which I have a copy of, is all the critics' darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it's a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie's got is absolutely unbelievable.
27 In a quarrel with one of my sons, I said, "I know I've been a lousy father". He said, "A father? You haven't been a father at all!"
28 I hope I never get old so I get religious.
29 No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.
30 The theater is like a faithful wife. The film is the great adventure -- the costly, exacting mistress.
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