Look Again: Wild Strawberries (1957)/ Offside (2005)/ Hamoon (1989)/ and...
Being Is the Same as Nothingness
by Behzad Eshqi
There are two types of artists: Those who fear death and those who are obsessed with death. Franz Kafka feared death throughout his life and this fear could be traced in all his works. Sadeq Hedayat, father of the Iranian novel, on the contrary, welcomed death and was constantly looking for an easy death. Ingmar Bergman had a Kafkaesque view of death and fear of death was interwoven in his works. It has been said that for years Bergman evaded others and reporters, in particular, in the month prior to his birthday. Birthday did not remind Bergman of birth. Instead, it brought to his mind the idea of a coming death. Man is a being but his being is established by a name as well as psychological, cultural, and other characteristics. If we strip a person of these elements, nothing remains of him/her and the person's being turns into nothingness. Therefore, in spite of heir differing appearances, being and nothingness are made of the same thing. Being turns into nothingness and nothingness gives way to new being.
In all of his film, including Wild Strawberries, Bergman told us about beings that smacked of nothingness. At its time, this film had a noble way of storytelling. An old professor recalls his life on the last days of his life and visits his childhood friends in his actual old features. This was something new in the cinema. We had never seen such flashbacks before. But this was not merely a formalistic device. It served the film’s meaning in a structural way. Being and nothingness are made of the same thing and a professor on the verge of nothingness returns to the beginning of his life to meet his own being which smacks of death.
Some say people would recall their life at the moment of their death. The professor in Wild Strawberries recalls a life which smacked of death and nothingness from the very beginning. However, by portraying death, Bergman left death behind and reached eternal being in his films.
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