Igmar Bergman, Tom Snyder Have Died

Learned about Bergman's passing this morning, and Tom Snyder this evening while reading Atrios. It's always sad when anyone dies. I, and most movie lovers, are grateful that Bergman came out of cinematic retirement to make what would be his final movie. I don't know about anyone else, but I for one was thrilled that the greatest living director had returned from his generation-long seclusion, if only for one more run.

I don't know if the name Igmar Bergman registers with moviegoers anymore. Likely not, particularly with the multiplex lemmings who mindlessly obey whatever the tv ads tell them. Ooh, another Adam Sandler movie! And he hits people, an' stuff! Duuuude!

Don't be like the suckers. Don't be like the mindless losers whose fate it is to be manipulated and contorted like a puppet. Theirs is the way of suburban hell, consumerism, decaying democracy, and permanent war. You were meant for better things. Believe in that.

If you're not familiar with Bergman's movies, there has never been a better time to start. The Criterion Collection has served the master superbly, with is many masterpieces available on DVD, and often with commentaries, documentaries, and extras that were once the domain of college courses. Everyone has their favorites, and I'd recommend pretty much everything, but if you have to start someplace...I'd say your first Bergman movie should be The Seventh Seal. Widely regarded as among the greatest of movies, and it probably remains the quintessential Bergman.

After that, I'd suggest Wild Strawberries, if only because it's tone is so completely different. Bergman has always been parodied as the purveyor of gloom, sort of a 1950's cinema answer to Black Sabbath. But I find a lot of humor in his work, and Wild Strawberries is a good choice. It also reminds me greatly of Omohide Poro Poro - Takahata certainly draws inspiration from him, and Poro Poro even quotes a shot from Bergman. Perhaps Grave of the Fireflies owes something as well, with Strawberries' use of narrative flashbacks, as the main character revisits the ghosts of his past.

After that, there are all the doom and gloom movies, and if you're carefully observant you may learn a thing or two. Or maybe you'll just understand what all those parodies - from Woody Allen to SCTV to MST3K - were all about.

Igmar Bergman was the world's greatest living filmmaker. No other person walking the Earth could make that claim. Now he's gone, hopefully to meet God and settle things once and for all. That's bound to be an event.

Tom Snyder was a radio and television personality. He hosted a show called, simply, Tomorrow, which followed Johnny Carson, many years ago. I have fond memories of sleeping on my grandparents' couch with the tv on, and Tom Snyder coming on. I felt so grown up and lucky to stay up late enough to watch it. Remember when staying up way past your bedtime was a real thrill? You were a rebel. You don't get too many thrills like that once you grow up; certainly not after you're legally old enough to drink.

When Snyder's show was canceled, he was replaced by a young hotshot named Dave Letterman. When Letterman moved to CBS, he brought Snyder back with him for The Late, Late Show, a triumphant return to form. It was, as always, a terrific show, fun and free and extremely intelligent. This was an adult program for real adults - the Charlie Rose of his time.

Tom Snyder had been battling leukemia for the past few years, possibly a consequence of his smoking. How I hate those damned cigarettes. They're the worst poison, that and alcohol. Cannibis and psychedelics are illegal because, why again? Don't let the tobacco and alcohol industries destroy you, children. You'll get to touch the face of God soon enough - there's no need to enslave yourselves to puppet masters in the process.

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