Bye-bye Bergman, arrivederci Antonioni

Attention legendary auteurs of world cinema: please stop dying! In the past two days, we've lost two of the best -- Swedish director Ingmar "Gloomy Gus" Bergman and Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni -- and if death keeps swinging his cinema scythe at this rate, we'll be down to the likes of Spielberg in a week or two. While both were highly respected filmmakers in their own right, Bergman was undoubtedly the giant of the two. American filmmaker Paul Schrader (he wrote Taxi Driver) said of his passing, "It's impossible for anyone of my generation not to have been influenced by Bergman." High praise indeed, and not far from the mark: you see his trademark all over today's movies, but perhaps nowhere more clearly, I will argue, than in dream sequences.

Everybody loves a good dream sequence, and Bergman was a master of them, playing with everything sound design to editing and music (or creepy lack thereof) to create something so uncanny, it could only be a dream. He perfected it in his masterpiece, Wild Strawberries, when the elderly professor dreams -- what else -- of his inevitable death:

If the uncannny dream sequence was one of Bergman's hallmarks, it's everywhere now. Roman Polanski's wonderful dream scenes from Rosemary's Baby are a perfect example (wish I could post them here, but YouTube doesn't have 'em): sound and image disconnect just enough to make the dreams seem almost but not quite real, and thus, super-creepy. (Check out our run-down of the uncanny valley phenomenon, which looks at why not-quite-human robots and clones are so darn creepy.)

Another great example of Bergman's dreams are played out (or rather, were) every few weeks on The Sopranos; Tony's dreams seem exported directly from the Swedish art cinema. Remember when he was in that coma, hovering between life and death, trapped in the dream purgatory of an Orange County hotel, a lighthouse shining endlessly out his window? Sooooo Bergman. (Again, wish I had a clip!)

David Lynch could never be called derivative, but watching Eraserhead feels like you're watching a feature-length version of one of Bergman's dream sequences. The whole darn thing is uncanny. I finally found a clip that feels appropriately illustrative of my point, so I'm going to post it, but viewer beware, not only is it super creepy, but Eraserhead's head flies off about halfway through, and fake as it looks, it's definitely grotesque. The first four minutes are really all you need to see, anyway:

When Schrader says that everybody is influenced by Bergman, he means everybody: even, to some small and silly degree, my friends and I in high school. We used to make videos on the weekends -- one-off, extemporized, edited-in-camera, bad acting and the rest -- and we called this one, quite simply, "Art Film." (In retrospect, not so sure about that claim, but hey, we were young and pretentious.) It's not a dream, but it is weird and black-and-white. Special bonus: stars two current floss bloggers!

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

Original image
Lucy Quintanilla/iStock
6 East Coast Castles to Visit for a Fairy Tale Road Trip
Original image
Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

Once the stuff of fairy tales and legends, a variety of former castles have been repurposed today as museums and event spaces. Enough of them dot the East Coast that you can plan a summer road trip to visit half a dozen in a week or two, starting in or near New York City. See our turrent-rich itinerary below.


59 miles from New York City

The crumbling exterior of Bannerman Castle
Garrett Ziegler, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannerman Castle can be found on its very own island in the Hudson River. Although the castle has fallen into ruins, the crumbling shell adds visual interest to the stunning Hudson Highlands views, and can be visited via walking or boat tours from May to October. The man who built the castle, Scottish immigrant Frank Bannerman, accumulated a fortune shortly after the Civil War in his Brooklyn store known as Bannerman’s. He eventually built the Scottish-style castle as both a residence and a military weapons storehouse starting in 1901. The island remained in his family until 1967, when it was given to the Taconic Park Commission; two years later it was partially destroyed by a mysterious fire, which led to its ruined appearance.


116 miles from Beacon, New York

William Gillette was an actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, which may have something to do with where he got the idea to install a series of hidden mirrors in his castle, using them to watch guests coming and going. The unusual-looking stone structure was built starting in 1914 on a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette designed many of the castle’s interior features (which feature a secret room), and also installed a railroad on the property so he could take his guests for rides. When he died in 1937 without designating any heirs, his will forbade the possession of his home by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The castle is now managed by the State of Connecticut as Gillette Castle State Park.


74 miles from East Haddam, Connecticut

The exterior of Belcourt castle
Jenna Rose Robbins, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt designed Belcourt Castle for congressman and socialite Oliver Belmont in 1891. Hunt was known for his ornate style, having designed the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, but Belmont had some unusual requests. He was less interested in a building that would entertain people and more in one that would allow him to spend time with his horses—the entire first floor was designed around a carriage room and stables. Despite its grand scale, there was only one bedroom. Construction cost $3.2 million in 1894, a figure of approximately $80 million today. But around the time it was finished, Belmont was hospitalized following a mugging. It took an entire year before he saw his completed mansion.


111 miles from Newport, Rhode Island

Part of the exterior of Hammond castle
Robert Linsdell, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. built his medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 as both his home and a showcase for his historical artifacts. But Hammond was not only interested in recreating visions of the past; he also helped shape the future. The castle was home to the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Hammond produced over 400 patents and came up with the ideas for over 800 inventions, including remote control via radio waves—which earned him the title "the Father of Remote Control." Visitors can take a self-guided tour of many of the castle’s rooms, including the great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, guest bedrooms, inventions exhibit room, library, and kitchens.


430 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts

It's a long drive from Gloucester and only accessible by water, but it's worth it. The German-style castle on Heart Island was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, who created the extravagant structure as a summer dream home for his wife Louise. Sadly, she passed away just months before the place was completed. The heartbroken Boldt stopped construction, leaving the property empty for over 70 years. It's now in the midst of an extensive renovation, but the ballroom, library, and several bedrooms have been recreated, and the gardens feature thousands of plants.


327 miles from Alexandria Bay, New York

Part of the exterior of Fonthill castle

In the mood for more castles? Head south to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Fonthill Castle was the home of the early 20th century American archeologist, anthropologist, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was a man of many interests, including paleontology, tile-making, and architecture, and his interest in the latter led him to design Fonthill Castle as a place to display his colorful tile and print collection. The inspired home is notable for its Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and with 44 rooms, there's plenty of well-decorated nooks and crannies to explore.


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