Stop and Think
Question 1: What childhood memories does the author recollect that had a bearing on his later involvment with film-making?
Answer: Author’s father was a clergy, who gave sermons, conducted rituals related to marriages and funerals. Due to his father’s profession, the author got acquainted with the devil and other mysterious entities. The influece was so powerful, that the author could visualise movement in water in a pictue of Venice. He could hear various sounds from the picture. This speaks about the boundless imagination which Bergman could develop in early childhood. Then, he got a projector as gift, which was used to the hilt to see various reels. These happennings in his childhood helped the author in becoming a film-maker.
Question 2: What connection does the author draw between film-making and conjuring?
Answer: A performance which appears magical and is usually the result of sleight of hand. Magicians use various tricks to make people believe that a rabbit is coming out of hat, and a piece of cloth is turning into a bouquet. All of this relies on certain faults in human behaviour. Similarly, film relies on certain faults in the way some of the human organs function. When you enter a cinema hall in complete darkness, your mind gets ready to get deeply engrossed in the magic which is going to happen in the next one or two hours. Every movie buff knows that a movie is nothing but imagination, yet many people show various emotions while watching a movie. Due to this, the author draws a conncetion between film-making and conjuring.
Question 3: What is the nature of the first impressions that form the basis for a film?
Answer: For Ingmar Bergman, there are many cues which form the basis for a film. It could be a chance encounter with someone, or a shaft of dramatic light across the street, or a piece of music. The author is able to conjure images and weave story on the basis of seemingly trivial happenings. Such impressions form the basis for a film for the author.
Question 4: Which art form is film-making closest to? What is the reason for the similarity?
Answer: Film making is closest to music. While watching a film or listening a music the audience willingly surrenders to the illusion. He leaves aside intellect and makes direct connection with the art form. People receive and understand film and music at emotional level rather than at intellectual level.
Question 5: Quite often a film made out of a book is not very successful. Discuss.
Answer: A literature is written with different perspective and is meant for conscious consumption of the reader. The irrational world of literature cannot be translated into the irrational world of film.When someone tries to convert a book into a film, he needs to make so many adjustments but the final product is not worth all the effort needed. So, more often than not, a film made out of a book is not very successful.
Question 6: What, according to Bergman, is the relationship between a film-maker and his audience?
Answer: For a film-maker, the audience is the ultimate judge. A film-maker needs to make a film for the audience and not for his own private entertainment. The audience may either like or dislike a film because everyone has a right to think about a film in his own way. But if the audience does not react to a film, it shows that the film has failed to stimulate the audience.
Question 7: What is the story of the Cathedral of Chartres and how does the author relate it to his profession?
Answer: The story of the Cathedral of Chartres says that once the Cathedral was destroyed by lightning. After that thousands of people from all corners of the world voluntarily came and rebuilt the Cathedral. There were craftsment of varying skills who contributed in their own ways to rebuild the Cathedral. Nobody knows the names of those artists and craftsmen. The author believes that the enjoyment of process of creation should be the main goal of an artist. But now-a-days, people strive for the joy of getting name and fame and fancy sobriquets while pursuing a particular creative field. Bergman thinks that a film-maker should enjoy the process of film-making rather than bothering about box office success of the film.
Question 8: What are some of the flaws of the world of film-making today?
Answer: The modern-day film-maker has to walk tightrope without the safety net. He is a cnojurer but his magic has no effect on the prducer, banker and theater owner. And the problem is these are the guys who are going to provide money so that the film-maker can live a comfortable life. In a way, the film-maker of modern times is like a magician whose magic wand has been taken away from him. To make matters worse, the audience is indifferent.
Understanding the Text
Question 1: Pick out examples from the text that shows Bergman’s sensitivity to sensory impressions which have made him a great film-maker.
Answer: At the beginning of the essay, Bergman talks about hearing the sunlight. For all of us sunlight is meant for visual perception and not for auditory perception. Similarly, while most of us can see fine details of a mountain or a meadow in a painting, the author hears sounds of stream and bells in the picture of Venice. These examples speak about Bergman’s sensitivity to sensory impressions which have made him a great film-maker.
Question 2: What do you understand of the complexity of the little invisible steps that go into the making of a good film?
Answer: There can be various invisible steps which go into making of a good film. A director can be good at visualising a story but he needs to rely on various other people to do justice to his visualisation. He needs a script writer to write suitable dialogues, a music director to create perfect ambience by proper orchestration, a cameraman to do justice to light and shadow to create magic on screen. Then he needs good actors sink in the skin of the character. Creative people from different fields have different idiosyncracies and it is not an easy task to make them work in perfect synchronisation.
We can take many examples from Hindi movies. For example, nobody can imagine and actor other than Amjad Khan in the role of Gabbar Singh.
Question 3: What are some of the risks that film-making involves?
Answer: Film-making is a high risk venture. The highest risk is of losing your money because it is a high sake job. We hear many stories of certain filmmakers going bankrupt after putting everything in making a magnup opus. Film-making also carries the risk of annoying certain sections of the society. A film may contain a scene or a dialogue which end up ruffling the feathers of some sections of the society. After that it can really take a nasty turn.
Question 4: What misgivings does Bergman have about the contemporary film industry?
Answer: Bergman thinks that the contemporary film industry does not give artistic liberty to do justice to a particular topic. People are so much preoccupied with the commercial success that they often compromise with quality in order to cater to the masses. We can say that instant noodles cannot be compared with a gourmet food.
Question 5: Compare Bergman’s views about making films out of books that of Umberto Eco’s.
Answer: Bergman thinks that making films out of books cannot do justice to the book. It is a futile exercise according to him. Umberto Eco partly agrees with him because he also thinks that it is impossible to translate a book on the limited canvas of a film. For him, a book is like a sandwich with so many layers, but a film can afford to have only one or two layers in the sanwich. Moreover, Umberto Eco thinks that if a person intends to read a book after watching a movie, he will not be able to fully enjoy the true essence of the book.
Talking About the Text
Question 1: According to the author, split-second impressions form a ‘mental state, not an actual story, but one abounding in fertile associations and images’.
Compare this with Virginia Woolf’s experiment with the stream of consciousness technique in the ‘The Mark on the Wall’.
Answer: In her essay The Mark on the Wall, author Virginia Woolf is somewhere on the same track as Bergman. Bergman needs a split-second impression to develop a film. Similarly, Virginia Woolf just had a look at a black mark on the wall and came up with such an interesting weaving of various thoughts in her essay.
Question 2: Bergman talks about the various influences in his life including his parents and his religious upbringing. To what extent are an individual’s achievements dependent on the kind of influences he or she has had in life? Discuss.
Answer: It is said that the child is the father of man. A major part of someone’s personality is shaped during his growing years. We learn and get influenced by our parents and teachers. A person may learn punctuality and self-discipline from his parents. Another person my learn horrible manners from his parents. These learnings have life long effect on a person. So, different types of upbringing has deep influnece on career progression of a person.
Question 1: Autobiographical accoutns make interesting reading when the author selects episodes that are connected to the pursuit of excellence. How does this apply to Ingmar Bergman’s narration of the details of film-making?
Answer: Ingmar Bergman starts with the influences he got during childhood. After that, he talks about various inspirations for making a particular film. He also talks about relative significance of other people involved in film-making. All these examples show how he tries to achieve excellence while making a film. These accounts make the narration quite interesting and informative.
Question 2: Comment on the conversational tone of the narration. Compare this with the very informal style adopted by Umberto Eco in the interview.
Answer: Bergman’s narration is quite conversational as he comes up with copious use of real-life examples and anecdotes. Umberto Eco is quite relaxed while talking about his book and other topics. But he seldom comes with real life examples while discussing a point.