Bookmark and Share

EYES WIDE SHUT: The World of Cinema mourns for Antonioni and Bergman


By Darius KADIVAR from Europe



Titans of European Cinema ©



The World of Motion Pictures was hit by the sad but much expected news of the demise of the two major pillars of European Cinema. Italy’s Michelangelo Antonioni, renowned for his 1966 release Blow-Up, died aged 94 exactly a day after Ingmar Bergman, legendary director of the Seventh Seal who passed away at the age of 89.


Sadly the death of these two major directors may also announce the end of an era: That of Europe’s Golden Age of filmmaking.  Both Antonioni and Bergman were considered as Authors in their own right. However they also managed to combine Box Office success with critical acclaim for several decades in a highly competitive and industry oriented Artform. Both Antonioni and Bergman were also to be nominated for the Oscars and Palme D’Or several times and even won them on several occasions.


Antonioni’s I Tre Volti aka Three Faces of a Women (1965) (*) introduced
Princess Soraya of Iran  to the Milan Film Festival. The following Year,
Antonioni directed Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings in Blow Up
© &


Antonioni’s L’Aventura and  L’Eclisse won the Cannes Jury Prize respectively in 1960 and 1962 and  Blow Up earned the Palme D’Or in 1967. The Latter film was to bring Stardom to its lead Actors Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings. As for Ingmar Bergman he was to be nominated for nine Oscars throughout his career and won the Academy Award three times for best foreign language film and if he never won the Palme D’Or despite several nominations he was to earn the Palm of Palms in 1997 for the Cannes Film Festivals 50th Anniversary.


Blow Up Star Vanessa Redgrave also starred in Kayvan
Mashayekh’s feature film
The Keeper :The Legend of Omar Khayyam.
© & Kayvan Mashayekh


Interestingly Iranian Cinema has also benefited indirectly from these two great maestros. Antonioni was to direct the Former and 2nd Queen of Iran Princess Soraya Esfandiary after her divorce from the Shah of Iran. She appeared in a film entitled I Tre Volti aka Three Faces of a Women co-Starring with Irish Leading Hollywood Star Richard Harris and Italian comic Alberto Sordi. The film was premiered at the Milan Film Festival in 1965. It was a film shot in three episodes, the first of which, "The Screen Test," functions as a prolog to the other two. Directed by Antonioni, it presents a view of Soraya on the night of her screen test for this picture. Reportedly, however, "The Screen Test" was struck from the release print and the negative destroyed. "Famous Lovers" casts Soraya as a married woman having an affair with a struggling writer, Harris. The final episode has her playing an executive on a trip to Rome who is entertained by Sordi.


Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal Star Max Von Sydow
was to shoot in Valerio Zurlini’s Epic Nightmare
The Tartars Desert shot in Bam,Iran. (**)
© &


The film Blow Up was shot the following year by Antonioni and has been an inspiration to many film directors since including Iranian New Wave director Abbas Kiarostami whose Film Close-Up is also a visual essay on the nature of films and filmmaking.


As for Ingmar Bergman’s recurrent film Star the Swedish actor Max Von Sydow, he was to appear in an Italian production shot in Bam in Iran by Valerio Zurlini. The Theme of the film also echoed with Bergman’s metaphysical obsessions about Life and Death which strangely turned the film into a dark experience both the its director who died shortly after the shoot and for the doomed City of Bam that was entirely destroyed by an Earthquake in the following decades. Nevertheless the film is justly considered as a successful screen adaptation of Dino Buzzati’s strange novel.



Antonioni’s  Blow Up as much as Abbas Kiarostami’s Close Up are first
and foremost brilliant visual essays about Voyeurism on film
© &


The passing away of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni is a great loss for the film community in general but their film legacy will certainly live on in our millennium as great works of Art by the two Last Giants of European Cinema.




Authors Notes:


(*) Three Faces of a Women (1965) starring Princess Soraya is not available on DVD. Lets hope that the distributors will do so in a near future.


(**) Max Von Sydow’s appearance in Valerio Zurlini’s The Tartar’s Desert is now available on DVD.


Recommended Reading:


Lesson’s from the Keeper by Darius KADIVAR

Valerio Zurlini’s Tartar’s Desert Shot in Bam by Darius KADIVAR

Iranian film director Parvin Ansary in Italian Cinema interviewed by Brian Appleton

Persian Italian actress Maya Sansa by Darius Kadivar


Recommended Viewing:


The Tartars Desert ( Trailer on Youtube)


About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and  Columnist for OCPC Magazine in LA and Paris.


© Copyright 2007 (All Rights Reserved)