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Ingmar Bergman preferred New Hollywood to the French Nouvelle Vague

Many of the greatest directors in film history, whose careers span decades, watch trends, fashions and movements come and go as the industry is in a state of never-ending change. Ingmar Bergman, on the other hand, surprisingly has a greater fondness for an American milestone.

The filmmaker's contemplative, meditative and painfully personal approach to the art form doesn't have much in common with the kind of films that made Hollywood the greatest media center of all time, so it's surprising that he was much more fascinated by what was happening in the United States in the early 1960s.

Since Bergman was a European auteur who shot his films exclusively in Europe, all of which had a distinctly continental touch in terms of aesthetics and atmosphere, it is hardly unreasonable to assume that he would have elevated the French Nouvelle Vague to a higher rank than New Hollywood.

At the same time, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Éric Rohmer were rewriting the rules of cinema with a series of timeless classics, and a new generation was emerging in Hollywood to do exactly the same thing, only in a very different way.

What makes Bergman's comments even more fascinating is the fact that they came in 1964, meaning that he believed that “New Hollywood” was superior to its French counterpart at a time before Bonnie and Clyde, The final exam, Rosemary's Baby, Simple driveror any of the other trailblazers and pioneers had even appeared.

In response to the question from playboy If he felt that America's up-and-coming directors had something to say, Bergman said yes. “Yes, I think so. I have only seen a few examples of their work; only The connection, Shadow And Pull my daisy,” he said. “I would love to see more. But from what I have seen, I like the 'American New Wave' much better than the French.”

Shirley Clarke's experimental found-footage film, John Cassavetes' socially touching drama about race relations, and the short film co-directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie with improvised commentary by Jack Kerouac are among the first works of the “New Hollywood,” and they were more than enough for Bergman to form an opinion.

“They are so much more enthusiastic, more idealistic in a way,” he said. “Rougher, less technically perfect and less knowledgeable than the French filmmakers, but I think they have something to say and that's good. That's important. I like them.”

The French Nouvelle Vague and New Hollywood represented very different ideologies on opposite continents, but as a united force they swept through the film world and turned it on its head in the 1960s. Bergman didn't even comment on the most influential Francophile filmmakers, suggesting that he may not have been their biggest fan. The movement was still in its infancy, but he knew something seismic was brewing across the pond.

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