Damn…Now Ingmar Bergman went and died. That’s a flash from the past on the AM dial.
Until I went off to college in 1964 I didn’t know there were such things as “films” or “cinema,” though I did know about movies and motions pictures, as well as flicks. I didn’t know people make a study of movies and called them films. I guess I just didn’t see enough movies to be that impressed by them. When we moved to 10194 Ramona Drive in Spring Valley, the nearest movie house was like 10 miles away by bike. And if I wanted to get any place special, I did it by bike.
Sure we had a TV set, black and white with those rabbit ears and later an actual TV antenna sticking up the side of the house. But I had to get parental approval to turn on the one TV set, and even turned on, it had only three channels (NBC, CBS, ABC). There were some movies on it, but in the evening we watched what WB wanted to watch, stuff like Manix and the Beverly Hillbillies, rarely a movie since his attention span was somewhat limited.
On the weekends, “Movie for a Saturday Afternoon” came on; and on the other channel there was “Million Dollar Movie,” which tells you something about how much movies cost back then. But mostly these were real snoozers, having been carefully selected to suit the pabulum like tastes of John. Q. Public. Still, I would watch a western every now and then and maybe a war movie. But I don’t recollect a movie from back then having ever knocked me over, like books did.
When I got to college though, as I said, I discovered this stuff called “film” and the people who talked about film could be pretty “stuffy.” At the college they held like a whole day long—8 hours of movies—that you never really wanted to see but had to if you wanted to be educated. Like D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation with its weird klu klux klan stuff or Potemkin with its classic baby carriage rolling down the steps sequence (which is parodied in one of those Police Story movies made by the same guys that made Airplane!). No wait, I saw these movies at different times. The eight hour day was all experimental films. Starting with Un Chien Andelou and working up to Warhol by way of the crazed Kenneth Anger.
Bergman, though, was one of the first non-classic, hip and up-to-date artiste filmmakers that I saw. You knew a Bergman movie when you saw it. It was full of depressing Swedish people all tormented by emotions I couldn’t quite grasp. The movies had lots of death in it, not John Wayne death where the Indians just fall over without bleeding, but real death and one movie actually had Death in it. I mean an actor dressed up to look like Death. I think this was the Seventh Seal, and I recollect thinking it must be pretty profound what with Death walking around in it and I wasn’t sure what it meant.
While I was watching the Seventh Seal—I think it was—one of the actors was like kneeling on the ground, maybe in front of Death or performing a sexual act on somebody, and I happened to notice the guy’s shoes. I had never seen shoes like that before. They were like my high topped Converse sneakers, but they were shoes that went clear up over the ankle, but weren’t boots either. They were made out of nice flexible leather too. I decided right then and there that I wanted a pair of shoes like that someday. That’s the only time I was influenced by a fashion statement in a movie.
Those are the kind of shoe I saw in the Bergman Movie–these are Beatle boots. This pair belonged to John Lennon.