Ingmar Bergman “stopped making motion pictures in 1982, though he wrote and directed several small films for television,” writes N.Y. Post columnist John Podorhetz. “And the truth is, he quit just in time. His day had passed. After decades of declaring modern life worthless and offering only suicide as a way out of the nightmarish tangle of human existence, Bergman had nothing more to say.”
Podhoretz also says that “the critics who described Bergman as the greatest of film artists were people embarrassed by the movies. They didn’t admire the medium. They were offended by its unseriousness, by its capacity to entertain without offering anything elevating at the same time. They believed the movies were a low and disreputable art form and that its only salvation lay in offering moral and aesthetic instruction to its audiences about the worthlessness of existence.”
In other words the people who understand the true soul and purpose of movies (i.e., guys like Podhoretz) know that movies are best at offering light-hearted foolery and unserious entertaining that don’t get too mucky-mucky about reflecting “real life.”
Do I have to point out that this is what the ill-informed always say about movies and particularly about audience-friendly popcorn movies — comedies, thrillers, adventures, westerns, etc.? They don’t understand that the very best motion picture entertainments are always written with and informed by the same structural discipline and seriousness that go into the best heavy-duty dramas. Ask any comedy writer and they’ll tell you all good comedies are written with the same regard for real-life undercurrents as anything written by Eugene O’Neil or directed by Ingmar Bergman.
We all know the line between tragedy and comedy is wafer thin. We now also know that guys like Podhoretz don’t know very much about movies. You can’t be a truly devoted movie hound and be an admonisher of the cloistered liberal culture that tends to produce (and always rushes to the defense of) liberal-minded film directors, which are pretty much the only kind that exist with th exception of guys like David Lynch.
Quick — name me a conservative, three-piece-suit-wearing critic who has truly interesting things to say about movies and/or knows what he or she is talking about (except for Michael Medved). By this I mean a critic who really gets what’s going on with this or that new or classic film, and isn’t using film criticism as a podium by which to push some right-wing, family-values, Jesus-loves-you agenda.