Letter from Stanley Kubrick to Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick are arguably among the best filmmakers who never won Oscars for directing or anything of note. Bergman was given the Thalberg award after a total of nine Oscar nominations, some for writing, some for directing and once for producing. He did win three for Bergman Foreign Language Film Oscars –The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly and Fanny & Alexander but those did not go to Bergman himself. Stanley Kubrick was nominated for 13 Oscars and only won a single one for special effects on 2001. Both filmmakers made polarizing, divisive work. From Letters of Note:

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25 Comments on this Post

  1. Wow!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Bryce Forestieri

    My two favorites of all time <3<3<3<3

  3. Possibly my two favourites too, Bryce. Certainly Bergman, quite possibly Kubrick.

    What’s remarkable about this letter, for me, is its date. This was before either became the kind of legendary director they’re now known as, and before either of them made their best works.

  4. BOriginal

    These two artistic gods are evidence of why winning an oscar is completly irrelevant .

  5. From one master to another. These two are sitting down somewhere in the great beyond, drinking a coffee with Kubrick telling him the meaning of 2001…Ingmar pointing down at us going “They have nooooo idea…”

  6. I would add Kurosawa, Kieslowski and Truffaut to that list (though Day for Night won for foreign film, Truffaut lost when he was nominated for director). I remember when Kurosawa lost to Sydney Pollack, that was painful. And Fellini, Altman, and Satyajit Ray — who got lifetime achievement awards (Ray was pretty much near death when he got it.)

  7. When the foreign films win, who actually gets the Oscar to take home if not the director?

  8. Daveylow, I think the director takes the award, even though they don’t officially win it, right? Or does anybody know better?

  9. What a find! Thanks for posting. And I love your comment Kane.

    These guys were – and remain – light years beyond the populist entertainers who get Oscars, along with others who have been named above. Proof that worth is measured by substance, not acclaim.

    1960 – neither had even done their best work by then although Bergman had just found his footing. Kubrick had the brilliant Paths of Glory under his belt but was up to his ass in the Hollywood machine with Spartacus and tangling with star ego (Brando) preparing One Eyed Jacks, where he didn’t last.

    Maybe it was Bergman’s work and idyllic appearance of being in control that inspired him to “jump” ship and get out on his own(?) The timing of this letter would be about right.

  10. THIS.IS.AWESOME!

    Paddy- Bergman had already made Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal.

  11. daveinprogress

    I think the winner of Foreign Film is awarded to the country that has submitted it – the wording when it is announced is usually the country name, followed by the name of the film – and the director is the one that accepts it on the night.

    Does anybody know when AMPAS changed the rules for foreign films to be eligible for categories other than Foreign Language Film in the same year?
    ‘Day For Night’ was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 1973, but it was then nomminated in 1974 for Director, Supp Actress and Screenplay. I couldn’t find the rule change in my Inside Oscar book (my beloved bible by the late great Damien Bona – who should always get a mention or ten every season).

    At some point – must have been 1985 onwards, that they changed that bizarre rule.

  12. So very, very cool.

  13. This is just amazing. They are both my most favorite filmmakers of all time (Kubrick at #2 while Bergman at #1) and reading what one of them thinks of the other is just incredible. *respect for both of them*

  14. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he mentions Ingrid Thulin… <3 She really was one of the greatest actresses that I've ever seen on screen.

  15. Impressive…One colossus to another! And while we are at the topic of THE GREAT ONES, lets not forget (not for a single, tiniest moment) Tarkovsky. The great, utterly magnificent Andrei Tarkovsky!

  16. as a HUGE Kubrick geek (I spent US$ 2000 on the limited edition Napoleon Taschen book set – not meaning to brag about wealth; that purchase killed me), I can only say THANK YOU so much for this =)

  17. and, Paddy… I think it goes to the country’s government, even if the director is the one who accepts it. Ang Lee is (sadly) not an official Oscar winner for CTHD, for example.

  18. It’s ironic that Kubrick won his only Oscar for something he didn’t even really have a hand in other than some basic discussions and approvals….Douglas Trumbull was primarily responsible for the visual effects of 2001 along with a few others, but when Kubrick learned of the rule limiting the # of nominees per film, he took the nomination for himself.

  19. this is just a really cool post sasha. thanks! two of my top 5-6 directors of all-time.

  20. Pierre de Plume

    According to Wikipedia;

    Unlike other Academy Awards, the Best Foreign Language Film Award is not presented to a specific individual. It is accepted by the winning film’s director, but is considered an award for the submitting country as a whole.

    The only producers of an Oscar-winning foreign film to actually be recipients of the award were Carlo Ponti and Dino de Laurentis, for La Strada (1956). This is because their names were listed on the official nomination.

  21. Tero Heikkinen

    Well, the producer of Fanny & Alexander is listed as the official recipient. I know this for a fact, because Jörn Donner (the producer) is a Finn and he has the trophy at home. Afterwards, Swedish Film Institute wanted to get the Oscar to the director and then Ingmar Bergman called them and said that the trophy really belongs to Jörn. I believe back in the day the submitting country could’ve decided the recipient themselves. Now it goes directly to the director. I may be wrong.

  22. If you go to the link to the letters site above, check out Bergman’s letters and you’ll see why he didn’t want the Oscar – he hated contests like the Oscars and trade shows like Cannes. There are a couple of interesting notes written by him on that site.

    Andre – it’s a real shame that Kubrick was never able to get it together to do his dream project about Napoleon. It would have been remarkable, I’m sure.

  23. Pierre de Plume

    This is just a technical point, Tero, but neither the Swedish Film Database nor IMDB lists Donner as the recipient for Fanny and Alexander.

  24. Oh wow, that makes me love Kubrick even more than ever. Such a great human being who can acknowledge his fellow with unmatched grace and dignity.

  25. Which came first, the problem or the sounliot? Luckily it doesn’t matter.

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