Ingmar Bergman

The Eternal Golden Braid

Director Guy Maddin offers a few thoughts on Ingmar Bergman, Quentin Tarantino, Luis Bu–uel and other matters pertaining to the fertility of imagination; SparksÕ Ron & Russell Mael chip in some wisdom of their own

ŅYou know how plays have read-throughs? Well, The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman is a read-through for a movie of a radio opera,Ó says director Guy Maddin. The event at the L.A.Õs Ford Amphitheatre on June 25 was a theatrical/cinematical staging and musical performance of the Sparks production originally commissioned for Swedish radio in 2009. The Canadian filmmakerÕs moderne-nostalgist sensibility was a key factor in Ron and Russell MaelÕs choice of a staging chief for this inside look at the proposed film version of their story about an iconic auteur lured to Hollywood to make blockbuster movies for the masses.

Maddin has earned acclaim for recombinant reveries such as The Saddest Music in the World (2003), the silent Brand Upon the Brain! (2006) and the Toronto Film Festival prize-winning My Winnipeg (2007), films that adapt and warp the scratchy grain of early Hollywood melodramas and political propaganda reels in beguilingly burnished mˇlanges, sucking in and spewing out the myths and clichˇs of his ŠŠ and our ŠŠ innermost worlds, usually of the psychosexual variety.

The project thus hybridizes the concert experience with theatrical action and a somewhat voyeuristic view of real, true on-set moviemaking.

ŅItÕs a little vivisection, without anyone being hurt,Ó he says with a laugh.

The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman offers the pithily amusing what-if of the famed film artisteÕs enticement to Tinseltown, where heÕs wined and wooed, harassed and haggled with. He suffers much interior turmoil, does this serious European man in the land of the hyper-unreal.

ThatÕs the type of scenario Maddin likes to sink his fangs into, a juicy opportunity to dissect and enhance a legend. HeÕll semi-precisely hodgepodge his admittedly flawed memories of BergmanÕs story with a million other things ŠŠ just to see what happensÉ

Guy Maddin

GUY MADDIN: When IÕm designing a movie I make collages. I throw little collage parties and I have artist friends come over and I suggest some themes and I supply a bunch of old magazines and books that we cut up over a series of a few daysÕ length, then we take a bunch of images which usually find their way into my movies.

BLUEFAT: You juxtapose images and sound to create a third entity.

MADDIN: IÕm continually amazed at the occult power that lies in simply taking an image and looking at it while listening to a sound. Who knows how or why certain combinations work better than others? ThereÕs almost no logic to it; itÕs not a science, itÕs something paranormal or some sort of charlatanism or something. Maybe there are people that know why it works ­­ŠŠ I know the Soviet filmmakers wrote long essays on it, but who can read those? Me, though, IÕm more comfortable just knowing itÕs an occult power and through trial and error you keep finding things that work and that donÕt work. When you think theyÕll work youÕll find they donÕt.

Maybe AmericaÕs greatest practitioner of this occult science is Quentin Tarantino, who will write core themes around a piece of music. But IÕm sure even he doesnÕt know why it works. In my own experience, IÕve written themes around one piece of music and I almost always find it doesnÕt work for that piece of music, and that if I just take almost any other piece of music at random and put it on itÕll work better. [laughs]