The art of cinema viewing
'It is so easy to forget that film, when it is good, is an art form that ranks up there alongside theatre, painting, sculpture - any other imaginable art form.'
From the text
On the brink of his career as a film director, Bergman expresses his thoughts on what was to become his medium, sprinkling in healthy doses of his signature sarcasm:
On average, people have a strange notion of what it is 'to go to the cinema'. It is so easy to forget that film, when it is good, is an art form that ranks up there alongside theatre, painting, sculpture - any other imaginable art form. [...]
After making the rounds to three or four sold-out cinemas, you finally end up somewhere in Stockholm. Sweating, out of breath, you sink into your assigned seat. Thus you begin slinging forth a barrage of comments. I. The ticket, which you purchased in haste, cost at least 2.45 crowns. II. The film already started a while ago and you have no idea whatsoever whether or not Lady Plattfoth's lover was married to the beautiful duchess Plums or the secretary with the long legs, the one you didn't catch the name of. III. On the screen, the actors bear an incredible likeness to the infamous Pyramid of Cheops, with legs and feet appearing in proportion, whilst their chests, arms and heads taper out in strange distorted shapes, as you gaze up at a neck-wrenching angle. In other words, you got yourself an overpriced, lousy cinema seat.
You are cross and annoyed as you later trot on home. If it happens to be Sunday, the doldrums set in, as in waltz a bad case of the Monday blues.
Another piece of advice: Do not concern yourself with the actors' names […] but rather focus on the names of the director and producer. This information offers the best insight into what the film you set out to see is all about. A good director vouches for a good film - let this be your rule of thumb. Examples: Duvivier, Carné, Capra, Lubitch [sic], Lang, Hitchcock, Cocteau, Renoir, Feyder, Borzage, Korda, Pudovkin, Chaplin, Mamolian [sic] always vouch for the fact that you can make your way to the cinema without happening upon a load of rubbish. On the other hand, all Swedish directors along with the following names provide doubtful, unreliable cinema viewing: Guitry, Sherman, Bacon, Arzner, Liebeneiner, Hathaway, van Dyke, Boleslawsky, Werker, etc.
If you must express your distaste with a film, do as my great-grandmother - rub your squeaky boots together. Do not kiss your sweetheart unless you are sitting in the back row. Do not express all your concerns about your family, your housing situation, your future, your religious views to your companion. Those sitting in your vicinity are quite possibly interested in the film.
Stockholms förenade prästerskap (SFP), No. 6, 1940.