CFS to screen ‘After the rehearsal’

Jack McKenna

The late, great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was a fearless artist. At the height of his success (from the 1950s through the ’70s), Bergman was the epitome of the cinematic auteur, with his films considered on par with the works of any serious painter or writer.

His body of work, consisting of 62 movies, most of which he wrote himself, has been hailed by audiences and critics alike as including the most artful films ever created.

In many ways, Bergman set the standard for future filmmakers, creating a legacy that many younger writers and filmmakers can only hope to pursue.

One of Bergman’s final films, “After the Rehearsal,” pays homage to his artistic endeavors.

A tightly structured, reflective piece about life in the theatre, it features only three characters interacting on a bare stage following a play rehearsal.

One is an esteemed director, representing Bergman’s alter ego; the second is a lovely young actress; and the third is the leading lady’s mother, an alcoholic who once had an affair with the director.

Reviled by her daughter and now dead, she manages to materialize from beyond the grave.

These three engage in wordplay, leading to revelations about art, sexuality and growing older.

Unlike some of Bergman’s earlier films that also portray volatile mother-daughter relationships, “After the Rehearsal” is not a somber drama.

In fact, some almost lighthearted moments occur here. In addition, cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who worked on several of Bergman’s films, provides plenty of close-ups – a staple in Bergman’s repertoire – which accentuate the shades of emotion among the trio of characters.

“Rehearsal” is one of Bergman’s last films. (The director recognized his days were numbered when he referred to this picture as “a pleasant title episode on the road toward death.”) In fact, Bergman had vowed that his previous work, Academy Award-winner “Fanny and Alexander,” would be his final theatrical release.

Nevertheless, “Rehearsal,” originally made for Scandinavian TV in 1984, was eventually shown in movie theaters.

It would end up being the last film written and directed by Bergman to be commercially distributed. (He’d go on to make one more film, “Sarabande,” years later.) Bergman died peacefully in his sleep in July 2007, at the age of 89.

Fittingly, “After the Rehearsal” will kick off the Fall 2008 Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “In Memoriam,” celebrating the work of several screen VIPs who have passed away in recent years.

Bergman’s film, in Swedish with English subtitles, will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is free for students with ID and $5 for all others.

At the Monday showing, Joan D. Lynch will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward. Lynch, professor emeritus in the communication department, established the CFS in 1980 and ran it for more than 20 years. For more information, please contact the communication department at x94750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web site: