OPINION

Silencing the critics

The websites of the leading international newspapers were full of praise for the work of Ingmar Bergman. The Swedish film and theater legend died peacefully at his home on an island in the Baltic Sea where he spent the last years of a creative and turbulent life. Before becoming more widely known in Western Europe in the mid-1950s, thanks to the film «Wild Strawberries,» Bergman had already shaken the arts world in Northern Europe. In Greece, his name first made the news in the wake of the scandal that broke out in Sweden in November 1963 following the release of «The Silence» (although some here were already familiar with his scripts, published here by Galaxias press). The movie was screened in Athenian theaters, such as the Orpheas, in January 1965, and was an instant hit. The appeal was not due to any sudden and inexplicable cultural shift but rather to the fierce attacks on Bergman before the film even had a chance to be screened in theaters. Moralists of all breeds went berserk. The small minority that dared not to reject «The Silence» were forced into silence. The crowds swarmed into the theaters and the more hot-blooded cheered at the sight of the sex scenes. Bergman’s status was soon reminiscent of that of a popular soccer player or notorious criminal. In time, the work of the Swedish filmmaker found an audience here (with that little boost from «The Silence»). The cries of outrage are history. The art of Bergman has won. It would be interesting nevertheless, if a researcher of the mythical 60s – a time of social radicalization and great artistic creativity – was to shed light on the ideological discourse of those who, despite their attacks on Bergman, were nevertheless praised as the vehicles and champions of progress.