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Screenwriting from notebooks to screenplays
Anna Soa Rossholm

This chapter discusses the creative playfulness in the screenwriting process of Ingmar Bergman’s filmmaking. The process of writing from notes and drafts to finished screenplays is examined from the perspective of genetic criticism in combination with perspectives on screenwriting as an intermediate process across media and in stages. The notion of play refers both to Bergman’s method of creative writing and to the playful dimension of the finished artwork, i.e. the films and screenplays. Play is understood in terms of transcendence between the fictional and the real on various levels. Most importantly, the chapter focuses on play in the ambivalence of agency in Bergman’s notebooks—that is transgressions between author, narrator, and character—that continues in the aesthetics of self-reflexivity and auto-fiction in the screenplays and in the films. The Ingmar Bergman Archives, where his notes and screenplay drafts are collected and digitized, allow such an examination of the writing process. The archive consists of the donation of Bergman’s personal collection of notes, drafts, letters, and other documents—personal and professional—from his early career in the 1930s until the last productions in the early 2000s, across several media and art forms.

in Ingmar Bergman
Fanny and Alexander in Swedish politics
Erik Hedling

This chapter argues that Bergman deviated from his highly critical depictions of bourgeois life in the films of the 1960s and 1970s—from Persona (1966) to the television series Scenes from a Marriage (1973) —in Fanny and Alexander (1982), his final contribution to films made for the cinema. Bergman himself came from an upper-class bourgeois background, and by his own account he did not take an interest in politics until the mid-1960s. He sided with Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic party at that time, a stance that certainly represented a sort of break with his family background. It is argued here that Bergman obviously profited from this connection to contemporary power politics, by obtaining official support for his work, both in the theatre and in film. However, Bergman temporarily broke off with Sweden in the aftermath of his being charged with tax evasion in 1976. The author argues that Bergman’s return to Sweden with Fanny and Alexander in the early 1980s coincided with a new Zeitgeist, in which the country’s Socialist past came under much critical scrutiny. It was in this new political climate that Bergman chose to celebrate the bourgeois society in which he was raised and at the same time denigrate enemies, like Uppsala philosophy professor Ingemar Hedenius, a strong advocate of scientific positivism and atheism, who appears in several Bergman film as the arch rationalist Vergérus. In Fanny and Alexander, this figure is—somewhat surprisingly and ambiguously—depicted as the Lutheran clergyman.

in Ingmar Bergman
Open Access (free)
Classical music in the lms of Ingmar Bergman—a lecture-recital
Anyssa Neumann

From the earliest decades of sound cinema, films have incorporated classical and popular music in their soundtracks, both on screen as part of the action and off screen. One of the first major directors to make classical music a regular feature was Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman, who largely eschewed traditional soundtrack scores in favour of pre-existing music, incorporated this material into the lives of his characters, and found artistic inspiration in the lives of several Western classical composers. This chapter explores the appearance, function, and meaning of classical music in Bergman’s films, from his earliest in the 1940s to his final film in 2003. Patterns of musical use through his oeuvre suggest a conceptual framework that differentiates three ways in which such music appears onscreen: music heard (sound), music performed (act), and music sensed (presence). A series of case studies, from It Rains on Our Love (1946), Music in Darkness (1948), To Joy (1950), Summer Interlude (1951), Waiting Women (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Silence (1963), Autumn Sonata (1978), In the Presence of a Clown (1997), and Saraband (2003), demonstrate how Bergman’s portrayals of musical interaction offer a sophisticated array of encoded sounds, performance dynamics, and historical meanings that resonate through the cinematic text.

in Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman’s filmmaking
Laura Hubner

This chapter draws comparisons between a number of Bergman’s films that focus on visionary/charlatan relationships and the diverse portraits of ‘Bergman’ as both ‘visionary filmmaker’ and self-reflexive practitioner. In Bergman’s films of the 1950s, we often witness the visionary and the charlatan (merged within a single figure) feeding off each other’s resources to gain validity and power, as is the case with Jof in The Seventh Seal (1956), for example. However, beyond this there are protagonists plagued by a profound fear of being exposed as charlatans, such as the visionary figure Isak Borg in Wild Strawberries (1957). The charlatan artist/doctor in Bergman’s work conjures up a vision of the self as fraud—the returning nightmare of not being able to create or to perform at the expected level in our professions, or to deliver the product we have promoted. Permeating Bergman’s creative work is the motivation to convey intuitive visions that have the capacity to melt borders between space and time, or between old age and childhood. Any lingering concern with strict (truth/false) binaries of understanding—of seeing visionaries and charlatans as separate entities for example—disintegrates in Bergman’s films, particularly from the mid-1960s onwards, as the concept of secure selves and worlds shatters: Fanny and Alexander (1982) allows for a liberating fluidity of identity. Nevertheless, portraits of Bergman discussing his practice convey an enduring fear of not being capable. This in turn fuels a ritualistic compulsion to generate fresh creative work that lives and is meaningful.

in Ingmar Bergman
Musical meaning and musical discourse in Ingmar Bergman’s films
Per F. Broman

In his last major radio appearance, in 2004 on the Swedish talk show Sommar, Ingmar Bergman devoted most of the time to his musical interests, highlighting his belief that music transcends language and manifests a deeply philosophical vision of life and beyond: music is a gift—a divine one, although Bergman did not mention God—given to provide hints of realities beyond our perception. Through analyses of the films and manuscript materials in the Ingmar Bergman Archives, this chapter focuses on four instances of interaction between music and dialogue in Bergman’s films that resonate with his comments in the show: music is able to communicate where words cannot in To Joy (1950), words and music interact to support the structure of the narrative in Autumn Sonata (1978), words about music provide powerful metaphors and communicate central parts of the narrative in Saraband (2003), and finally, music and the creation of music structure the entire narrative in In the Presence of a Clown (1997). Despite the stylistic shifts in his oeuvre across the decades of filmmaking, Bergman’s views of music, as represented in his work, have been surprisingly consistent. Whether seen through Beethoven’s Ninth overcoming death in To Joy or music’s emergence as an existential motif in Saraband, through its metaphoric uses of works and modes of performance, Bergman’s films reveal and are profoundly shaped by his belief in the essential, metaphysical nature of music.

in Ingmar Bergman
Open Access (free)
Food and Identity in His Life and Fiction
Emily Na

This article traces how the queer Black writer James Baldwin’s transnational palate and experiences influenced the ways he wrote about Black domestic spaces in the late twentieth century. In the 1960s and 1970s, while Black feminist cooks and writers like Edna Lewis, Jessica B. Harris, and Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor developed new theories of soul food in relation to the Black American community and broader American cuisine, Baldwin incorporated these philosophies and transnational tastes into his lifestyle and works. He traveled and worked around Europe, settling in places like Paris, Istanbul, and Saint-Paul de Vence for years at a time. In Saint-Paul de Vence, where he spent his last years, he set up his own welcome table, at which he hosted internationally renowned guests and shared his love of cuisine. Inevitably, Baldwin’s passion for cooking and hosting meals became a large, though scholarly neglected, component of his novels and essays. In his novels Another Country, which he finished in Istanbul and published in 1962, and Just Above My Head, which he finished in Saint-Paul de Vence and published in 1979, Baldwin’s depictions of food and Black kitchens take a queer turn. Instead of lingering on traditional Black family structures, these texts specifically present new formulations of intimate home life and reimagine relationships between food, kitchens, race, and sex in the late twentieth century.

James Baldwin Review
Between “Stranger in the Village” and I Am Not Your Negro
Jovita dos Santos Pinto, Noémi Michel, Patricia Purtschert, Paola Bacchetta, and Vanessa Naef

James Baldwin’s writing, his persona, as well as his public speeches, interviews, and discussions are undergoing a renewed reception in the arts, in queer and critical race studies, and in queer of color movements. Directed by Raoul Peck, the film I Am Not Your Negro decisively contributed to the rekindled circulation of Baldwin across the Atlantic. Since 2017, screenings and commentaries on the highly acclaimed film have prompted discussions about the persistent yet variously racialized temporospatial formations of Europe and the U.S. Stemming from a roundtable that followed a screening in Zurich in February 2018, this collective essay wanders between the audio-visual and textual matter of the film and Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village,” which was also adapted into a film-essay directed by Pierre Koralnik, staging Baldwin in the Swiss village of Leukerbad. Privileging Black feminist, postcolonial, and queer of color perspectives, we identify three sites of Baldwin’s transatlantic reverberations: situated knowledge, controlling images, and everyday sexual racism. In conclusion, we reflect on the implications of racialized, sexualized politics for today’s Black feminist, queer, and trans of color movements located in continental Europe—especially in Switzerland and France.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Reading James Baldwin’s Existential Hindsight in Go Tell It on the Mountain
Miller Wilbourn

This essay reads James Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, through the lenses of European existentialism and Black existential thought to arrive at a new understanding of the novel itself as well as essential stages of its development. Archival sources and close reading reveal Baldwin’s historically and existentially informed artistic vision, summed up in the terms hindsight and insight. His thoughtful, uncomfortable engagement with the past leads to a recuperated relationship to the community and constitutes existential hindsight, which informs his inward understanding of himself—his insight. This investigation draws on various works from Baldwin’s fiction, essays, interviews, and correspondence to arrive at a better understanding of the writer’s intellectual and artistic development, focusing especially on the professed objectives behind, and major revisions of, the novel. I conclude the essay through a close reading of the conversion scene that constitutes Part Three of Go Tell It on the Mountain.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Black Women as Surrogates of Liberation in James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk
Marquita R. Smith

This essay analyzes how James Baldwin’s late novel If Beale Street Could Talk represents Black women’s care work in the face of social death as an example of how Black women act as surrogates for Black liberation giving birth to a new world and possibilities of freedom for Black (male) people. Within the politics of Black nationalism, Black women were affective workers playing a vital role in the (re)creation of heteronormative family structures that formed the basis of Black liberation cohered by a belief in the power of patriarchy to make way for communal freedom. This essay demonstrates how Beale Street’s imagining of freedom centers not on what Black women do to support themselves or each other, but on the needs of the community at large, with embodied sacrifice as a presumed condition of such liberation.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Intimacy, Shame, and the Closet in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
Monica B. Pearl

This essay’s close interrogation of James Baldwin’s 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room allows us to see one aspect of how sexual shame functions: it shows how shame exposes anxiety not only about the feminizing force of homosexuality, but about how being the object of the gaze is feminizing—and therefore shameful. It also shows that the paradigm of the closet is not the metaphor of privacy and enclosure on one hand and openness and liberation on the other that it is commonly thought to be, but instead is a site of illusory control over whether one is available to be seen and therefore humiliated by being feminized. Further, the essay reveals the paradox of denial, where one must first know the thing that is at the same time being disavowed or denied. The narrative requirements of fictions such as Giovanni’s Room demonstrate this, as it requires that the narrator both know, in order to narrate, and not know something at the same time.

James Baldwin Review