Bergman, Muhe, Snyder
The film community lost one of the masters when Sweden’s most famous filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, passed away July 30 at age 89. Anyone who has ever studied film certainly had Ingmar Bergman 101 as a main course. My first introduction to Bergman’s films was a film appreciation course at Richard Stockton College. Many of his films were thoughtful and often pessimistic meditations on the meaning of life such as his most famous works The Seventh Seal, Persona, Wild Strawberries and Scenes From A Marriage. Woody Allen was influenced by Bergman; he has noted that The Seventh Seal is his favorite film. This reverence for Bergman was expressed in both spoofs (Love and Death) and his Bergmanesque drama Interiors. Bergman’s other films include the comedy Smiles of a Summer Night; The Silence (about the silence of God); Shame; Cries and Whispers and Autumn Sonata. The latter starred follow countryman Ingrid Bergman (no relation) in their only film together.
The death of German actor Ulrich Muhe is a shock for any moviegoers who experienced his brilliance as the star of the Academy Award-winning best foreign language film, The Lives of Others. As I noted in my review of the film, “The Lives of Others is a magnificent examination of life in a police state. Understated, yet crackling with emotion, the film generates its power by being specific about its time and place — East Germany in the half decade before the Berlin Wall fell — yet universal in its themes of fear, intimidation and insecurity used to suppress individuality and freedom.” Muhe’s death from stomach cancer is fraught with irony since his stomach ailments began, according to a story in the Hollywood Reporter, when, as a conscript in the East German military, he was forced to patrol the Berlin War with shoot-to-kill orders. He was a man who lived behind the Wall and later had the opportunity to express his feelings about that era in a great, career-defining performance.
Tom Snyder was the first talk show host to follow Johnny Carson with his late night series Tomorrow on NBC from 1973–1982. He later continued his chat format with The Late Late Show. Before that he was a respected TV news anchor in Los Angeles. Synder’s style garnered both praise and criticism. I loved him despite his chain smoking on camera that put his guests in a perpetual fog during his interviews. His most famous chats included Charles Manson and the last interview with John Lennon. Snyder was 71.