Between Stage and Screen: Ingmar Bergman Directs

By Egil Törnqvist | Go to book overview

Wild Strawberries (1957)

Many film directors have stressed the connection between the film medium and the nocturnal dream. No one has done it as frequently and as emphatically as Ingmar Bergman. 1 One of his most explicit statements on this matter reads:

No other art-medium ... can communicate the specific quality of the dream as well as film can. When the lights go down in the cinema and this white shining point opens up for us, our gaze stops flitting hither and thither, settles and becomes quite steady. We just sit there, letting the images flow out over us. Our will ceases to function. We lose our ability to sort things out and fix them in their proper places. We're drawn into a course of events -- we're participants in a dream. 2

To Bergman, literary reception is primarily intellectual, while filmic reception, like the reception of music, is mainly an emotional experience: "The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings." 3 In film, we deal with "a language that literally is spoken from soul to soul in expressions that, almost sensuously, escape the restrictive control of the intellect." 4 Since Bergman feels attracted to the film medium because of its ability to create a dreamlike mood -- direct contact with hidden psychic levels -- it is logical that he makes maximum use of this possibility. Strindberg's importance for him is here evident. Not least in Wild Strawberries, Bergman resorts to dreamlike changes of time and space, recalling the technique of A Dream Play. As in Strindberg's case, these changes serve to evoke the feeling that life itself is dreamlike. As Eva in Shame puts it, echoing the Poet in A Dream Play:

Sometimes everything seems like a long strange dream. It's not my dream, it's someone else's, that I'm forced to take part in. Nothing is properly real. It's all made up. What do you think will happen when the person who has dreamed us wakes up and is ashamed of his dream?

The idea is here that life is a nightmare dreamed by God. And that mankind is forced to exist in this nightmare. We do not usually call a person to task for what (s)he is dreaming. But that is precisely what Eva is doing here with God.

-112-

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Between Stage and Screen: Ingmar Bergman Directs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • PROLOGUE 9
  • PART 1 THE STAGE DIRECTOR 21
  • Strindberg, the Dream Play (1970) 23
  • Strindberg, the Ghost Sonata (1973) 30
  • Strindberg, Miss Julie (1985) 46
  • O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night (1988) 59
  • Ibsen, a Doll's House (1989) 69
  • Shakespeare, the Winter's Tale (1994) 81
  • PART 2 THE SCREEN DIRECTOR 93
  • The Seventh Seal (1957) 95
  • Wild Strawberries (1957) 112
  • Strindberg, Storm (1960) 128
  • Persona (1966) 137
  • Cries and Whispers (1973) 146
  • Autumn Sonata (1978) 160
  • Fanny and Alexander (1982) 174
  • PART 3 THE RADIO DIRECTOR 189
  • Strindberg, Easter (1952) 191
  • A Matter of the Soul (1990) 195
  • EPILOGUE 199
  • Notes 213
  • Selected Bibliography 226
  • List of Illustrations 231
  • Index 233
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