Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Genius cannot be learned

Very good insights on the master and his work. Woody's non-comedic film work over the years has been obviously influenced by Bergman, but he's never even come close to making something as pungent as Cries and Whispers, The Silence, Through a Glass Darkly, et cet, et cet. But, thankfully, he gets that trying to beat Bergman at his own game is an exercise in futility.
Like all great film stylists, such as Fellini, Antonioni and Buñuel, for example, Bergman has had his critics. But allowing for occasional lapses all these artists’ movies have resonated deeply with millions all over the world. Indeed, the people who know film best, the ones who make them — directors, writers, actors, cinematographers, editors — hold Bergman’s work in perhaps the greatest awe.

Because I sang his praises so enthusiastically over the decades, when he died many newspapers and magazines called me for comments or interviews. As if I had anything of real value to add to the grim news besides once again simply extolling his greatness. How had he influenced me, they asked? He couldn’t have influenced me, I said, he was a genius and I am not a genius and genius cannot be learned or its magic passed on.

When Bergman emerged in the New York art houses as a great filmmaker, I was a young comedy writer and nightclub comic. Can one’s work be influenced by Groucho Marx and Ingmar Bergman? But I did manage to absorb one thing from him, a thing not dependent on genius or even talent but something that can actually be learned and developed. I am talking about what is often very loosely called a work ethic but is really plain discipline.

No comments: