Monday, July 30, 2007

Farewell to a Genius

About 18 hours ago died one of the most important people of this century and I was thinking how exactly I should write this post with a decent farewell message that would express how big Ingmar Bergman was to our modern world. Unfortunatelly there are not enough words to describe this 'foremost figure of the entire cinematic art'as said the official Swedish site.

Bergman was by far my favorite movie director. He was born in Sweden in 1918 and lived a very hard childhood with his abusive father. His tragic young years inspired him to become the greatest storyteller in our time. He was always questioning happiness, the meaning of life and frustrated sexual choices. His movies are some kind of concept, almost a genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Comedy, Drama and Bergman. His movies were often a melancolic view of the childhood and the human innocence and to illustrate his ideas there were surreal scenes like a medievel knight playing chess with Death.

He directed more than 40 films for theater, even more for TV and about 100 plays. He was kindly honored with a file in Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with his work recognized as world patrimony. He became famous when he directed 'The Seventh Seal'. Most movie critics still consider this his best movie ever.

The Seventh Seal (1957)- "The Seventh Seal was always my favourite film, and I remember seeing it with a small audience at the old New Yorker Theatre. Who would have thought that the subject matter could yield such a pleasurable experience? If I described the story and tried to persuade a friend to watch it with me, how far would I get? 'Well,' I'd say, 'it takes place in a plague-ridden medieval Sweden and explores the limits of faith and reason based on Danish — and some German — philosophical concepts.' Now this is hardly anyone's idea of a good time, and yet it's all dealt off with such stupendous imagination, suspense, and flair that one sits riveted like a child at a harrowing fairy tale. Suddenly the black figure of Death appears on the seashore to claim his victim, and the Knight of Reason challenges him to a chess game, trying to stall for time and discover some meaning to life. The tale engages and stalks forward with sinister inevitability. Again, the images are breathtaking! The flagellants, the burning of the witch (worthy of Carl Dreyer), and the finale, as Death dances off with all the doomed people to the nether lands in one of the most memorable shots in all movies. Bergman is prolific, and the films that followed these early works were rich and varied, as his obsession moved from God's silence to the tortured relations between anguished souls trying to make sense of their feelings." (Woody Allen in "Through a Life Darkly.) Bergman was nominated for the Cannes Film Festival with this movie and made his world famous.

His next film Wild Strawberries is a beautifully cold story about an aging teacher who travels to Lund University to receive an award. On the road he's plagued with intrusive hallucinations and memories of his empty life completely dedicated to his career and without human and moral values and devoid of real meaning. This is a cold portrait of an old man who lived his life stepping only on steady and realistic grounds.

The Virgin Spring is one os his most poetic works. A young girl girls travels to church to deliver some candles and on the way she's rapped and killed by three thieves, one of them being a small kid. The thieves ask for shelter on the girl's family farm where hers parents are worried sick about her. The thieves don't know where they are and try to sell the girl's clothes to her relatives who kill them in vengeance. Her parents find the girl dead in the forest and when they remove her cold body from its resting place a spring flows to wash away the family sins.

Persona - A young nurse, Alma, is put in charge of Elisabeth Vogler: an actress who is seemingly healthy in all respects, but will not talk. As they spend time together, Alma speaks to Elisabeth constantly, never receiving any answer. Alma eventually confesses her secrets to a seemingly sympathetic Elisabeth and finds that her own personality is being submerged into Elisabeth's persona.

Cries and Whispers is my favorite Bergman movie. A family drama takes place in a mansion in the late 1800's. Karin and Maria watch over their sister Agnes' sickbed together with the servant Anna. Through flashbacks the lives of both sisters are described, which are full of lies, deceit, callousness, self despise, guilt and forbidden love. Agnes' dramatic death cramp arouses only aversion in them. They both retreat in their own way from her when she grasps for their hands. I believe the most beautiful scene is when Anna hallucinate with the dead Agnes asking for a warm lap to rest. While the sisters are repulsed with the idea of getting close to the dead the servant opens her clothes and offers the warmth of her living body to Agnes resembling Michelangelo's sculpture Pietà.

And to close the circle of my favorite Bergman's movies is Fanny and Alexander; The title characters are children in the exuberant and colorful Ekdahl household in a Swedish town early in the twentieth century. Their parents, Oscar and Emilie, are the director and the leading lady of the local theatre company. Oscar's mother and brother are its chief patrons. After Oscar's early death, his widow marries the bishop and moves with her children to his austere and forbidding chancery. The children are immediately miserable. The film dramatizes and resolves those conflicts. A sub-plot features Isak, a local Jewish merchant who is the grandmother's lover and whose odd household becomes the children's refuge.

Bergman’s cinematic works seem to spring from a storehouse of personal insights and experiences. Some Bergman scholars say they can even detect a kind of autobiographical “life curve” in the very chronology of the films: the vulnerable youths facing an uncomprehending adult world in his early films; the problems of sexuality and marriage in his more mature films of the early 1950s; the religious struggle and artistic problems that characterized his films from the late 1950s and most of the 1960s; and his psychoanalytically oriented films of the 1960s and 1970s, some assuming the form of actual self-analyses where the characters seem more like facets of a single psyche or narrator.

Bergman is a person for whom art and life are one. Nonetheless, there is reason to be cautious about interpreting his works on the basis of narrowly biographical facts. Not only is there a danger of getting stuck in a burdensome cult of personality, but what is worse, Bergman’s works – the films themselves – paradoxically risk ending up in the background while a “diagnosis” of their author’s (supposed) emotional life somehow becomes the main focus.

His melancholy was his main focus. He was a brave artist who attacked directly and ironically instituitions like church, moral and family. Unfortunately there aren't many artistis nowadays with the same guts to continue his legacy.

We lost a great artist today, a great movie director who was worldwide applauded. He left us with a great work and many ways to start to question our own lives and free our spirits from hollywoodesque blockbusters. To see a good action movie is fun, but to look inside human soul is necessary.

"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."
Ingmar Bergman

"We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal."
Ingmar Bergman

"I believe Bergman, De Sica, and Fellini are the only three filmmakers in the world who are not just artistic opportunists. By this I mean they don't just sit and wait for a good story to come along and then make it. They have a point of view which is expressed over and over and over again in their films, and they themselves write or have original material written for them."
Stanley Kubrick

"Alexander: If there is a god, then he's a shit, and I'd like to kick him in the butt.
Aron: Your theory is very interesting and appears to be justified."
Fanny and Alexander

Monday, July 23, 2007

Becoming Professional

Okay, I still think this is extremely narcisist and this is the main reason why I still can't look at the pictures I'll post below for more than five seconds. I thought I was healing my paranoias and self-image distortion, but I still can't exactly face it. It's easy to go to a studio and take some pictures, but it's hard to look at the pictures and see what other people see.

I have now some professional modeling pictures, which I'm very uncomfortable to show, but since I've been getting positive critics and compliments and on top of that I was kindly asked to face my own image by my therapist; I've decided to post some of them here.

I was already asked to attend some tests for TV commercials and Photography Sections because of these pictures. Maybe I'm heading somewhere with all this public extravaganza?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World x New Seven Wonders

I've heard of ridiculous games and votes, but I think there isn't a vote that went as far as The New Seven Wonders. I thought only I felt that way about that worldwide fraud, but thankfully I've read at El Mundo that someone else agrees with me.
The patriotism in the third world countries went too far in the votes, people voted in their own wonders and reunited against the wonders that were in the countries they disliked (as the EUA, France and Germany).
It's quite unfair if you really think about it. Brazil has about 118 million people with internet (the population is of 186.770.562) the number of Brazilians who use the internet is almost twice Germany population (about 58 million people), India 60 million people use the internet while in France the population is of 61 million people.
With the anti-Americanism going around the Globe, all countries that hate American voted against the Liberty Statue. America may have a huge population with internet access, but against Latin America, India and China they had no chance of putting their statue in the list.
And now, to think about how people's patriotism and hate towards other countries may affect the future of the fine works of art that weren't voted. The vote was organized by an ONG so they can send money to preserve the new seven wonders. I'm a Brazilian and I don't think we need money to preserve a stupid statue of Christ horribly sculpted in a rock. But I agree that Macchu Picchu needs it to be preserved. The Castle of Neuschwansten may not need money to stay with us in the next centuries, but its architecture is a model of fine art and elegance that influenced many generations of architects and promoted countless studies about its rich walls. If we count how much our modern world owe to this castle people would have voted in it for its importance.
How can Acropolis not have gotten in the list? Greece may need some help to preserve it. And Angkor in Cambodia? Who will help keep the stunning ornamented symbol of the Khmer empire when it’s in a country that barely feeds its population?
And let’s not forget The Kremlin in San Petersburg, the home of several generations of Czars that changed the world’s history.
What has the stupid Christ Redeemer done anyway?
Unfortunately those who voted may not even know what Seven Wonders of the World means. I bet they can’t even name two of them.
I just hope in some years true historians and artists will vote in the true New Seven Wonders. They will be fair because they know and they’ve studied the importance of each candidate for the title and not act like impulsive third world population who voted merely to not let those countries superior to them win.

And to teach people the truly Seven Wonders of the Ancient World I’ll list them down with a quick text gotten from the official website.

Great Pyramid of Giza
Built as the tomb of Fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Diodorus described multi-levelled gardens reaching 22 metres (75 feet) high, complete with machinery for circulating water. Large trees grew on the roof.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, it took 120 years to build. Herostratus burned it down in an attempt to achieve lasting fame.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 40 feet (12 meters) tall.

Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
Stood approximately 45 meters (135 feet) tall with each of the four sides adorned with sculptural reliefs. Origin of the word mausoleum.

Colossus of Rhodes
A giant statue of the Greek god Helios roughly 3/4ths as large as today's Statue of Liberty in New York.

Lighthouse of Alexandria
Between 115 and 135 meters (383 - 440 ft) tall it was among the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Tormented Artist Soul

I’ve heard from my therapist that I have an artist soul. First I have to say I don’t believe it in a religious way, but I think she meant the state of my mind and the circumstances and decisions that lead my actions in certain directions.

I have an impressionist way to look around me, but I have a realistic way to analyze and criticize it. Basically I have two opposite art movements in constant battle inside me. I can’t decide which one I like more and I can’t blend them both in one.

Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking how much I’d like to break free from this miserable world around me and go somewhere where I can appreciate true beauty, completely ignoring the ugliness of Brazil’s violence and poverty like a good hypocrite and be happy to simply forget. And then my realistic side blames me for wanting to be a hypocrite, but acknowledges that since I can’t save the world, I can save myself from constant deceptions and that’s what the hypocrisy is all about.

I’ve often wondered how nice it would be to paint a flowery field in Toscana while living in a comfortable house and not having to worry about money, for art would be my only profit. It’s not something absurd to come true if I look close because I can paint, I can draw, I have a BA degree and I speak Italian well enough to live there without communication getting in my way.

The only thing on my way is my own ambition and how much it actually costs to go live in another country. I’ve decided to work hard and get enough money to get a MFA degree in Europe and in my account that would be about one or two years of hard work.

But in Brazil an artist can’t find work. Not one that pays correctly every month. So I had to abandon the art and start teaching Italian and English in a private language school. The artistic inspiration behind it is zero and with this job occupying most of my time I don’t have much time to draw, paint and write stories.

That’s where the torment starts. I urge to create all the time. Maybe not all the time, but I think of stories and situations that could become nice comic books, nice paintings and nice tales almost constantly and since I can’t sit down and actually make it appear in the real world (that is, outside my head), I become frustrated and eventually depressed; down the famous creative block.

That’s the moment I’m in right now. In two hours I have to leave and teach; I know that two hours is a lot of time to create something, but I can’t find discipline to dedicate just two hours in a passion-driven work. I need much more then that, I think. And so, I don’t start anything. I just stare at the clock, waiting for it to hurry so I can come home, sleep and hope the next day will be nicer.

When the inspiration hits me in a full blow, usually after midnight, I’m too tired to get out of the bed and sit by my drawing table. I used to do it always a few months ago, but now… I don’t know. I want to, but I’m feeling emotionally tired and frustrated.

My frustration makes me become lazy, I spend my free time reading other people’s novels and when I go out to have fun I realize I’m tired of the same faces, the same subjects and the same personality. I’m tired of that person who think everything he does is easier then what you do because he’s not as lazy as you are, I’m tired of that friend who invites me to dinner and says there’s no restaurant in town that cooks better than his grandmother (who once in history had a restaurant in South Africa for about two months) and that the dessert passed the cooking point when I think it tastes perfect the way it is.

I think I need to be surprised at all the times. When I already know what someone will complain about I get tired of this person and that’s how six or seven years of friendship goes down the drain. Once again I find myself lonely, waiting for some inspiration to come so I can write.

Nowadays when inspiration comes all I can do is to write a small post for an internet journal – blog – thinking someone around the world would care to read my thoughts and find a bit of entertainment in my tormented artistic soul.