The Films of Ingmar Bergman

The Films of Ingmar Bergman

The Films of Ingmar Bergman

The Films of Ingmar Bergman

Synopsis

This concise overview of the career of one of the modern masters of world cinema defines Ingmar Bergman's conception of the human condition as a struggle to find meaning in life as it is played out. After examining six existential themes explored repeatedly in Bergman's films--judgment, abandonment, suffering, shame, a visionary picture, and a turning toward or away from others--Jesse Kalin shows how these themes are expressed in eight of his films, including well known favorites such as Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Smiles of a Summer Night, and Fanny and Alexander. Other important but lesser known films covered include Naked Night, Shame, Cries and Whispers, and Scenes from a Marriage.

Excerpt

Ingmar Bergman began his film career as a scriptwriter for Svensk Filmindustri in March 1943 at age twenty-four. A treatment for a coming-ofage story was referred by the studio's artistic director, Victor Sjöström, one of the founders of Swedish cinema and an internationally acclaimed director, to Alf Sjöberg, who developed it into Torment. It premiered on October 2, 1944, and was shot by Sjöberg in a mature expressionist style that conveys its feelings of forbidden love and hopeless entrapment in a way still exciting today. Torment caused some controversy in the Swedish press with its attack on a humiliating system of education and its portrayal of a repressive family (and the fact that the models for much of it were easily known). It was a fresh, more serious voice in the cinema, and the debut of a formidable talent.

During production, Bergman worked in the background in charge of continuity, but he was soon given the opportunity to direct on his own. Crisis, his adaptation of a current play, was released in February 1946. Since then, Bergman has directed forty films until his “retirement” in 1984 after Fanny and Alexander (1982) and its “follow-up, ” After the Rehearsal (1984). Of these forty-one films, Bergman was sole writer of twentyseven (neither cowritten nor adaptations), including all the films for which he is best known, with the exception of The Virgin Spring (1960). This book focuses on that body of work.

The first film Bergman directed using only his own material was Prison (1949), a quintessential Bergman work. In it, Paul, a former teacher of the director Martin Grandé, proposes a film in which the Devil is in charge of the world–life is now Hell, and things go on as before with little change:

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