By John Lynch, Senior Arts Editor
Published October 17, 2013
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Holding no preconception but your undying praise for its creator, I ripped into “The Seventh Seal” on a dreary winter night and attempted to watch it through your eyes. By the film’s end, as I watched the cast of medieval characters dance with Death across a hilltop, I fully understood your admiration for Ingmar Bergman and had a revelation about life and art that has fueled my creative intentions ever since.
I would argue that no path to self-actualization is as unique as yours. Inspired by the prolificacy of Bergman, you’ve written and directed 45 films in 48 years. In a tumultuous, life-long search for love, you finally found it, despite all odds, in the arms of your adopted daughter-turned-wife — further proving that you could not possibly give a fuck about conventional anything.
Though I hope to someday pull love from a less incestous well, your all-encompassing ingenuity motivates me every day. After watching a documentary on your career, where you gave the camera a look into your endless pile of legal papers filled with concepts for films, I began to believe that keeping track of all my half-baked ideas was less a pretentious act and more of a necessity. And after hearing you continually praise Bergman in interviews and “Manhattan,” I needed to see the origin of your inspiration.
Watching “The Seventh Seal” for the first time, I became a young Woody Allen, nearly salivating over the fact that an important film about the Crusades and the Black Plague could be carried out as a dark comedy — where Death cuts down a tree to get to a man hiding from him in branches and plays chess with a Knight for his soul, and where every line of dialogue is delivered with theater-like directness, coated in irony and defining the words “gallows humor.”
In that moment, I realized — as I imagine you realized — that powerful art should blend light and dark. That addressing death without humor gives death too much weight. That there’s a reason even Shakespeare believed in comic relief. Several Bergman films and Vonnegut novels later, I’m convinced that life is beautiful because there’s light in darkness — that each moment of sadness or hardship is just a small scene in a fulfilling comedy that spans a lifetime.
But I know that’s not something I need to convince you of.
Reflecting on your and Bergman’s expansive careers, I’m reminded that the only way to avoid death is to continually strive to create something that will live forever. And at the moment, I’m both terrified and thrilled that I’m nowhere near where I hope to someday be — satisfied and laughing heartily as I groove across the hilltop and into another realm, teaching Death how to two-step along the way.
An Unrealized 20-something