No salute to Sweden, the honored country for this year's Memphis In May, would be complete without recognizing its considerable contributions to film and, specifically, a few of the works of its cinematic genius, Ingmar Bergman. One of the medium's true legends, Bergman made movies that were about what it's like to be human, souls and bodies stripped of artifice and considered in all their glory and dysfunction.
In honor of the occasion, Memphis In May and Indie Memphis are partnering on "Sweden @ 24 FPS," weekly screenings of 35mm prints of Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries and the modern Swedish films Beyond and Sound of Noise.
Bergman was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won another three. He's best known for 1957's The Seventh Seal, starring Max von Sydow as a knight returning home from the Crusades who encounters Death, a sinister black-clad figure. Trying to avoid his fate, the knight challenges Death to a game of chess, spawning the film's most famous imagery. The Seventh Seal is scarily compelling but still considerably charming. In it, Bergman expresses an earthy appreciation of small things, like the knight considering a bowl of fresh milk, fragile and bound to spill, like all life.
Wild Strawberries — also 1957, I mean, c'mon, son — stars Victor Sjöström (the great Swedish silent film director, a major influence on Bergman) as a bitter, old professor traveling to receive an honorary degree and forced to confront his mortality and the lack of meaning in the life he's led. The film is a road movie and contains a number of flashbacks and dream sequences. It's an all-time classic (and you could do a lot worse than making it a personal double feature with its unintentional companion piece, Kurosawa's Ikiru).
Beyond is the filmmaking debut of Swedish actress Pernilla August (trivia: August played Ingmar Bergman's real-life mother in The Best Intentions) and stars Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as a woman who must travel to confront her dying mother, from whom she's estranged. Sound of Noise is a comedy (Swedes can be funny, too!) about a tone-deaf police officer named Amadeus (Bengt Nilsson) trying to stop a gang of guerilla percussionists causing a public nuisance in his city.
"Sweden @ 24 FPS," 35mm prints presented by Memphis In May and Indie Memphis
Screening on Wednesdays in May at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. at Studio on the Square.
Tickets are $8 in advance and for nonmembers at the door, free for Indie Memphis members.
The Seventh Seal, Wednesday, May 8th; Wild Strawberries, May 15th; Beyond, May 22nd; and Sound of Noise, May 29th.
Go to indiememphis.com/sweden for more information.