Erik Hedling
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Ingmar Bergman at 100
An introduction

This book on Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman contains eighteen new scholarly chapters on the director’s work, mainly in the cinema. Most of the contributors—some Swedish, others American or British—have written extensively on Bergman before, some for decades. Bergman is one of the most written-about artists in film history and his fame still lingers all over the world, as was seen in the celebrations of his centenary in 2018. The book was specifically conceived at that time with the aim of presenting fresh angles on his work, although several chapters also focus on traditional aspects of Bergman’s art, such as philosophy and psychology. Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy thus addresses a number of essential topics which have not featured in Bergman studies before, such as the director’s relations with Hollywood and transnational film production. It also deals at length with Bergman’s highly sophisticated use of film music and with his prominence as a writer of autobiographical literature, as well as with the intermedial relations to his films that this perspective inevitably entails. Finally, the book addresses Bergman’s complex relations to Swedish politics. Many different approaches and methods are employed in the book in order to show that Bergman remains a relevant and important artist. The analyses generally focus on some of his most memorable films, like Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona and Fanny and Alexander; but some rarer material, including Hour of the Wolf, The Lie, and Autumn Sonata, is discussed as well.

The year 2018 marked the centenary of an event that was to have a great impact on cinema and theatre history: the birth of Ingmar Bergman in Uppsala, Sweden, on 14 July 1918. In honour of the occasion, celebrations were held around the world to commemorate Bergman’s achievements as a prolific filmmaker and theatre director. From the 1930s until his death in 2007, Bergman wrote and directed many classic works, from the films Sawdust and Tinsel (1953) and Winter Light (1963) to the television series Scenes from a Marriage (1973).

These centenary celebrations included retrospective screenings of Bergman’s films, theatrical productions based on his scripts, the release of various documentary films, museum exhibitions, and the publication of a number of new scholarly and other books.1 An international seminar was also held at Lund University in southern Sweden with the explicit aim of producing a new research anthology that summarizes modern trends within scholarship on Bergman. Many of the world’s prominent Bergman scholars were invited to contribute to both the seminar and the resulting anthology, which you are now reading.

The Lund University project was also launched as a follow-up to the major symposium organized by Bergman scholar Maaret Koskinen at Stockholm University in 2005, an event that ultimately produced the anthology Ingmar Bergman Revisited.2 This publication introduced new aspects; and to a large degree, its contributors went on to speak at the 2018 event at Lund and to contribute to this book. Some new faces were also invited to participate. Scholarship on Bergman—his films, his work in the theatre, and now also his writings—has a long tradition that this present volume both upholds and hopes to extend, although it concentrates on Bergman’s films—and, to a certain extent, also his writings—though unfortunately not on his accomplishments in the theatre.3 It aims to display what is happening in Bergman scholarship at the present time: methods, research angles, new archival material consulted, and so forth. Regarding the latter, many of this volume’s chapters make liberal use of material held at the Ingmar Bergman Archive at Stockholm, a research resource that has only been available to scholars for the past two decades. Naturally, this book cannot address all kinds of Bergman scholarship, nor can it include all Bergman scholars. Nevertheless, it is hoped that it will succeed in showcasing something of the current state of the art.

Previous research on Bergman

Bergman is one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers. After being hailed as one of the great auteurs by Parisian film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma’s famous critics François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard and his breakthrough at the Cannes festival in 1956, scholarly writings on Bergman’s films became commonplace. The very first books on Bergman, by Jean Béranger and Jacques Siclier, were published in French in the late 1950s.4 However, the most influential piece of writing published on Bergman at this time was aspiring filmmaker Godard’s celebration of Bergman’s art in Cahiers, in which, in the spirit of the auteur theory, he hailed Bergman as a cinematic Marcel Proust.5 Godard’s piece set the tone for much Bergman criticism to follow—criticism concerning the exposition of the filmmaker’s world-view, or Weltanschauung, as expressed in the aesthetics of his films. Many subsequent monographs on Bergman have been conceived in this spirit, such as those by Philip Mosley, Laura Hubner, and Robin Wood.6

Bergman’s world-view has sometimes been approached in philosophical terms, and a strong tradition of philosophical investigation into his work has emerged, with contributions from scholars such as Paisley Livingston, Irving Singer, and Dan Williams.7 Investigation through the lens of psychoanalysis has been another trend, including work by world-famous psychoanalyst and Harvard professor Erik H. Erikson, who used Bergman’s classic film Wild Strawberries (1957) in an influential and much-cited study of developmental psychology.8 General psychoanalysis has featured prominently in Bergman studies in works by, for instance, Frank Gado, alongside more specific works, such as Don Fredericksen’s study of Jungian dimensions in Bergman’s classic tour de force Persona (1966) and Michael Tapper’s recent study of Arthur Janov’s influence on Bergman.9

Of course, Bergman’s dark, brooding cinematic style has also been understood and interpreted in religious terms, with Bergman cast as the critical challenger of the Lutheran position that characterized his own strict upbringing. It is therefore hardly surprising that some of the many theological studies of Bergman’s films were written by Roman Catholic priests. Prominent examples include monographs by Richard Aloysius Blake, Marc Gervais, and Robert E. Lauder.10 Whereas the religious intent in Bergman might be open to debate, most scholars agree that his films do address urgent religious questions, particularly those films that express and problematize the silence of God, such as The Seventh Seal (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), and Winter Light (1963). It goes without saying that Bergman’s films have been very favourably received in countries where religion is strongly entrenched, such as France and the USA. Conversely, their popularity in Sweden (a far more secularized country) has very little to do with religion, although theological studies on Bergman have been published in Sweden as well.11

Journalists in Bergman’s native Sweden also produced a few early monographs on his works, as did Finnish-Swedish author Jörn Donner, whose book was translated into English. As head of the Swedish Film Institute, Donner later produced Bergman’s farewell to cinema: Fanny and Alexander (1982).12 Most early Swedish books on Bergman were biographies of the life-and-works kind. The definitive biography among them to date was published a year after Bergman’s passing in 2007 and was written by Mikael Timm, an experienced arts journalist who had followed Bergman’s work closely since the 1970s.13 Bergman himself participated in this huge project, providing Timm with extensive interview time. Timm also had access to the huge archive of Bergman’s papers administered by the Ingmar Bergman Foundation in Stockholm, the Ingmar Bergman Archive, which had only been available to scholars for a few years at that time. It was here that Timm examined Bergman’s own workbooks, the diaries he kept regarding the process of writing most of his scripts. Naturally, these workbooks have proved extremely valuable to modern scholarship on Bergman. Thanks to the availability of this material, Timm’s meticulously recorded biographical details on Bergman are complemented by careful analyses of all of Bergman’s films and theatre productions. It is a great pity that Timm’s work still does not exist in an English translation. On the other hand, Bergman’s own contributions on the subject, as contained in his two autobiographical works The Magic Lantern and Images, are readily available in English.14 These indispensable volumes remain important resources for serious researchers.

While neither Timm’s nor Bergman’s books are academic works, academic research on Bergman in Sweden has been prolific since the 1990s. Two scholars deserve special mention in this regard: the first is Birgitta Steene, the second Maaret Koskinen. Although Swedish by birth, Steene spent most of her career as a professor of Scandinavian studies in the USA and has published several books and articles on Bergman, most of them in English. She was the first to draw attention to Bergman’s films’ reliance on a long-standing Swedish literary tradition, a tradition especially manifest in August Strindberg’s groundbreaking work at the turn of the twentieth century.15 However, Steene’s most outstanding contribution to Bergman scholarship is the exhaustive work (more than 1,000 pages long) Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide.16 This work is the most sophisticated research tool available to any serious investigator of all aspects of Bergman’s nearly sixty-year-long career in films, theatre, and publishing. It contains an extensive filmography, a detailed bibliography (including lists of thousands of reviews and other items printed in the Swedish and international press), and an index of stage productions and television and radio programmes. The volume also includes comprehensive analyses of Bergman’s work by the author herself.

Following the Steene tradition, Maaret Koskinen has also published a number of books and articles on Bergman, characteristically employing a film-theoretical and intermedial approach. Her doctoral thesis was the first work produced on Bergman at this level in Sweden and was published as a book.17 Here Koskinen applied insights from new Anglo-Saxon and French film theory to the formal traits of Bergman’s aesthetics. In a later study, she thoroughly analysed the interrelations between Bergman’s film and theatre practices, drawing on her deep knowledge of his cinematic works, but also on having personally attended all of Bergman’s theatre productions at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm from the 1980s onwards.18 Koskinen’s latest book on Bergman, published in English, is a theoretical analysis of his classic film The Silence (1963).19 It should be noted that owing to her personal acquaintance with Bergman, Koskinen was also instrumental in the founding of the Ingmar Bergman Archive at Stockholm. A generation of young Swedish scholars has since followed in her footsteps and published learned books on Bergman. My notes on this chapter mention some of these scholars: Jan Holmberg, current director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation; Michael Tapper; and Anna Sofia Rossholm. Another figure of note is Christo Burman, who has published a thesis on Bergman in book form in Sweden. In it, he employs the concept of ‘theatricality’ as a theoretical tool for understanding the centrality of the viewer’s gaze in Bergman’s films.20

I have paid extra attention to Swedish writings on Bergman here, since this book has been produced in a Swedish context (despite being written in English). Even so, Bergman studies are most certainly not restricted to Sweden. As has always been the case, international contributions to Bergman scholarship are equally significant. Several new non-Swedish Bergman scholars have emerged in Britons Laura Hubner and Dan Williams (both of whom are mentioned in the notes on this chapter), American Daniel Humphrey, and Canadian Alexis Luko. Humphrey’s study of Bergman’s impact on American queer culture has opened up a whole new horizon in Bergman studies;21 meanwhile, Luko’s analysis of Bergman’s use of music and other soundscapes is, to date, the most prominent book-length study of how Bergman’s filmmaking was inspired by music.22

The present study

Many of the aforementioned scholars have contributed to this book. Other contributors not yet mentioned have been equally important in its development. The book contains eighteen chapters in all, in addition to this introductory chapter. Some of these develop earlier trends in Bergman scholarship, while others enter hitherto uncharted territory. The first half of the book is geared towards new fields within Bergman studies: production studies (which have been notably absent to date), studies of Bergman as a writer, and studies of Bergman’s use of music. The book’s latter half adheres to a more traditional—though no less significant—line of analysis, addressing psychology, thematic criticism, and politics. The combination of familiar and innovative angles of approach enabled the book to cover as many aspects of his work as possible.


The book’s first three chapters—Chapters 1, 2, and 3—focus on Bergman’s standing in the world of film criticism and film production. The first chapter is written by Peter Cowie, a veteran Bergman scholar and specialist on Nordic cinema. Cowie wrote the first English-language biography on Bergman in the early 1980s.23 He also provided the commentary for several Bergman films released by the Criterion Collection, first on laser disc and later on DVD and Blu-ray. Cowie’s chapter provides an overview of Bergman’s entire career in terms of production, distribution, and critical reception. Cowie also emphasizes Bergman’s strong reputation among other filmmakers and his artistic influence on directors from Stanley Kubrick to Catherine Breillat. He focuses on Bergman as a truly international artist, a standing made possible by the filmmaker’s tapping into the zeitgeist of the Cold War era while exploring the new age of sexual liberation during the 1950s and 1960s.

During his 2006–2007 tenure as Ingmar Bergman Professor at Stockholm University, film historian and theorist Thomas Elsaesser conducted research in the Bergman Archive on Bergman’s contact with Hollywood, which yielded a fascinating story. Bergman primarily had contact with transnational film producer Dino De Laurentiis and Hollywood talent agent Paul Kohner, with whom he discussed film projects over the years; De Laurentiis would eventually produce Bergman’s film The Serpent’s Egg (1977). However, Bergman’s most notorious correspondence with Hollywood was with Kohner regarding the filming of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow starring American actress Barbra Streisand. Although Bergman’s and Kohner’s discussions on the subject came to nothing in the end, Elsaesser’s research charts previously unknown territory.

Olof Hedling’s chapter follows a similar trajectory, discussing Bergman’s potential worth in the commercial film market on the basis of the director’s own correspondence. Hedling first addresses Bergman’s correspondence with Carl Anders Dymling, head of the Swedish production company Svensk Filmindustri, regarding Bergman’s potential turn to the more profitable colour-film format in the early 1960s, and then turns to his correspondence with New York agent Bernhard L. Wilens regarding a film adaptation of Albert Camus’s short novel The Fall (La Chute, 1956). Third, Hedling explores Bergman’s correspondence with his American distributors Janus Films, who specialized in the art-house market, represented by Cyrus Harvey. Bergman never made a colour film during Dymling’s reign at Svensk Filmindustri, nor did he ever direct a film based on Camus’s novel. He did have a lengthy relationship with Janus Films, however. Hedling demonstrates how Bergman’s conception of himself as an artist conflicted with Hollywood, especially with regard to filmmaking practices.


The subsequent chapters—Chapters 4, 5, and 6—concern Bergman as a writer. Bergman was a prolific author throughout his lifetime. Having begun by writing unpublished novellas, short stories, and plays, he went on to write a multitude of screenplays. In his later life, Bergman wrote many literary works that were published as such in their own right.

Maaret Koskinen presents a highly elaborate theoretical analysis of Bergman’s intermedial play, particularly in some of his later literary works, such as The Best Intentions and Sunday’s Children. Bergman often used the textual ekphrasis tool in his written works; that is, he created verbal representations of visual representations, such as linguistic descriptions of photographs and paintings. Included in texts that Bergman was fully aware that he would not direct on film himself, these ekphrases served (among other things) as subtle stage directions for future filmmakers, thus turning Bergman into something of an invisible presence, directing unseen from the written manuscript. This aesthetic device also constituted a sophisticated play between different media, often giving rise to ambiguity and other new clusters of meaning.

Anna Sofia Rossholm digs deep into the Bergman Archive in her investigation of his writing process, carefully studying his workbooks in minute detail. Rossholm cites what is now known as ‘genetic criticism’ as her theoretical point of departure. This approach focuses on the movement of writing, that is, on evidence of the actual writing process, such as notes, proofs, drafts, corrections, revisions, and so forth. Her chapter emphasizes Bergman’s general playfulness, as he clearly experiments, adds new dimensions, and develops his ideas, leaving tangible developmental traces behind him. Finally, Rossholm discusses the finished screenplays themselves, with a certain emphasis on Bergman’s story ‘The Cannibals’, which some years later became the film Hour of the Wolf (1968).

Jan Holmberg is eager to prove Bergman’s worth as a literary author, despite the fact that Bergman himself always denied aspiring to be described in such terms. Holmberg’s chapter focuses on Bergman’s screenplays, drawing attention to their literary qualities. He characterizes these not simply as written words intended for cinematic adaptation, but as words in and of themselves—as literature. With regard to Hour of the Wolf, Holmberg goes so far as to suggest that the printed screenplay rightly belongs to the dream-play genre, and that it is more artistically refined than the film itself. He also studies a handful of other Bergman screenplays in some detail, including Autumn Sonata (1978), The Seventh Seal, and Persona, in making his case for designating Bergman a great literary author.

Music and soundscapes

The next part of the book (Chapters 710) makes a strong contribution to a fairly recent phenomenon in Bergman studies: detailed analyses of how his films employ music. While Bergman’s love of classical music is well known, the fact that he integrated music into his films with great imagination and subtlety is somewhat less well documented, at least in terms of solid academic accounts. According to most new Bergman scholarship on this subject, their musical scores add hitherto uncharted layers of meaning to some Bergman classics.

Alexis Luko, author of one of the first monographs entirely devoted to Bergman’s use of sound and music, close-reads Bergman’s highly imaginative use of music in his comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (1955). Luko’s point of departure involves exploring theories of humour, since Bergman creates comedic moments with the aid of Erik Nordgren’s original score and little classical melodies (by Schumann, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, and a traditional Swedish hymn) performed on the piano, hummed by the actors, or—in the case of the hymn—played by a clock. Structurally, the film resembles a Mozart opera, with four couples getting entangled in various amorous predicaments. Of course, the film also includes a touch of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, thanks to the inclusion of music with magical powers. Luko examines all these facets in great analytical detail.

American concert pianist Anyssa Neumann, who is also a film and musical scholar, provides a comprehensive overview of Bergman’s employment of classical music in his films from the outset of his career. In nearly half of his films, Bergman did not employ specially composed scores but relied on pre-existing music, which he used with great narrative precision. Some Bergman films are completely devoid of music. In others, Bergman let composed music interact with classical music, as in The Seventh Seal with the use of Carl Orff’s ‘Dies Iræ’ in Erik Nordgren’s underscore. Famously, Bergman’s favourite composer was Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music appears in several Bergman films. Neumann also studies the large number of musicians among Bergman’s characters as well as those of his films that deal directly with music and musicians, such as Music in Darkness (1948), To Joy (1950), and Autumn Sonata.

Film-music specialist Ann-Kristin Wallengren employs musical theory to account for musically charged scenes found in Bergman’s films. Referring to these scenes as ‘film-musical moments’, she claims that they provide an especially heightened sense of experience. Examples include composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s weird modernist music in the prologue to Sawdust and Tinsel and the Chopin piano ‘duel’ between mother and daughter in Autumn Sonata. Wallengren studies these scenes in terms of different kinds of ‘film-musical moments’, providing a detailed analysis of Bergman’s uses of music with the aid of a highly complex theoretical line of reasoning.

Musicologist Per F. Broman reflects on Bergman’s participation in the Swedish radio talk-show Sommar (Summer) in 2004, where he was given nearly two hours to contemplate any topic he liked, as long as his speech was accompanied by musical numbers of his own choosing. Bergman chose to devote the entire programme to his musical interests, selecting works by composers including Bach, Wagner, and Beethoven. Pointing to the fact that Bergman so often used pre-existing music in his films, Broman goes on to analyse the interaction between classical music and dialogue in Bergman films such as To Joy and Autumn Sonata (obviously a favourite among film-music scholars), Saraband (2003), and In the Presence of a Clown (1997). Broman concludes by claiming that Bergman challenges a traditional understanding of classical music.


The next three chapters (1113) return to more familiar territory in the field of Bergman research. They examine Bergman’s keen interest in psychology and neurosis, particularly in relation to family, albeit from very different angles. Paisley Livingston studies Autumn Sonata, the story of a deeply troubled relationship between a mother, who is a famous concert pianist, and her daughter, who has lost her young son in an accident. These two main roles are played by Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann. At this time, according to Bergman himself, he was studying influential American psychologist, psychotherapist, and writer Arthur Janov, whose book The Primal Scream had caught Bergman’s interest.24 The two men even met in Los Angeles. Livingston then presents a detailed analysis in which he asks whether Autumn Sonata can rightly be labelled a Janovian film and, if not, on what grounds such a claim can be rejected. Livingston’s philosophically inclined argument culminates in a tantalizing review of the various possibilities, in which he ultimately concludes that even if Janov influenced the story of the film, its narrative does not contain particularly Janovian solutions.

Daniel Humphrey provides a highly theoretically orientated analysis of Bergman’s 1960s cult movie Persona, which has elicited many different interpretations over the years since its release. Humphrey’s take on the film is grounded in post-structuralist psychoanalysis, particularly the psycholinguistic theories developed by Frenchman Jacques Lacan. As his point of departure, Humphrey analyses the very briefly exposed (one-eighth of a second, according to the author) photographic image of an erect penis hidden in the famous opening montage, where the penis replaces the number 6, an element that Humphrey contemplates in some detail. Although Bergman never allows his female couple—played by Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann—to come out as lesbians, the film contains a potential queerness which makes it into the subversive classic it is.

Michael Tapper analyses various family troubles in his study of Bergman’s TV movie The Lie (1970), one of the few works by Bergman to receive very little critical attention owing to its inaccessibility (it was only shown on Swedish television once). Jan Molander directed the work and not Bergman, although Bergman wrote the script. The Lie is the first of three Bergman works made for television and set in the upper-class Stockholm district of Djursholm in which he penetrates traditional, bourgeois family values, the other works being Scenes from a Marriage and Face to Face (1976). Tapper refers to these works as the ‘Djursholm trilogy’. Many critics have labelled Bergman a bourgeois filmmaker, sometimes opposed to the Swedish Social Democratic welfare state in which he worked. By contrast, Tapper maintains that Bergman was himself a Social Democrat and that his films, including the Djursholm trilogy, were in fact deeply critical of the bourgeoisie, all in the radical spirit of Strindberg and Ibsen.


The analyses in chapters 1417 focus on various recurring thematic aspects of Bergman’s films that are not discussed in the preceding chapters. While not performing a musical analysis, Linda Haverty Rugg presents a pioneering investigation of another aspect of Bergman’s soundtracks, namely ambience—here in the form of various bird sounds included in his works. Haverty Rugg’s conception of ambience is influenced by British ecocritic Timothy Morton’s book Ecology without Nature and his notion of ecomimesis, that is, a ‘representational practice in literature and art [and film, of course,] that attempts to recreate the experience of nature’.25 Accordingly, this is an aesthetic strategy and not an unintentional inclusion that occurred during filming. Haverty Rugg demonstrates Bergman’s use of an abundance of ambience created by birds in his films. She also provides a detailed thematic analysis of the function of this ambient noise in Bergman’s films, drawing lucid examples from The Virgin Spring (1959), Summer Interlude (1950), Hour of the Wolf, Wild Strawberries, and The Seventh Seal.

Laura Hubner investigates Bergman’s application of the themes of vision and charlatanism. She carefully examines famous Bergman scenes, such as Jof’s godly visions in The Seventh Seal, Professor Borg’s painful encounter with the examiner in his dream in Wild Strawberries, Dr Vogler’s various tricks in The Magician, and, finally, the matriarch Emilie’s visions of her dead son in Fanny and Alexander. In some instances, the visionary is fearful of being exposed as a charlatan, as in the cases of Isak Borg and Dr Vogler. In others, he is unperturbed, as in the case of Jof. Hubner provides a fresh perspective on some of Bergman’s most frequently analysed individual scenes.

Dan Williams bases his chapter on a close reading of scenes from two Bergman films, Sawdust and Tinsel and Dreams (1955). He supplies an account of Bergman’s strong relationship to silent cinema, as evidenced by his deep admiration for E.A. Dupont’s Variety (1925), as well as Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage (1921) and subsequent Hollywood movie He Who Gets Slapped (1924). Williams goes on to posit that Bergman incorporated techniques from these silent classics in his own works to express complex psychological processes, whereupon he analyses these in terms of the psychological theories developed by Austrian-British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. Among other scenes, he cites both the famous prologue and the conclusion to Sawdust and Tinsel in support of his claim.

Next, Lars Gustaf Andersson analyses Saraband as a Strindbergian chamber play, carefully staged in ten distinct scenes. Saraband was Bergman’s last work made for television and was first broadcast in Sweden in December 2003. The film also proved to be Bergman’s final work, concluding a career in moving images that began in 1944 with the script for Alf Sjöberg’s film Frenzy and spanned fifty-eight years in total. Nominally, the film was intended as a continuation of the family saga depicted in Scenes from a Marriage; but in fact, as Andersson demonstrates, it constitutes a virtual anthology of dramatic situations depicted by Bergman in some of his most famous films. It is also a tribute to the classical music which Bergman loved and which features prominently in the film, particularly works by Bach. Andersson also contemplates other aspects of Saraband, including the influence of Swedish philosopher and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1653–1735) and the film’s focus on different kinds of liminality.


Finally, in Chapter 18, Erik Hedling argues that Bergman deviated from his highly critical depictions of bourgeois life in the 1960s and 1970s with Fanny and Alexander. Bergman came from a 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, which certainly represented a sort of break with his family background. However, Bergman temporarily broke off with Sweden in the aftermath of his being charged with tax evasion in 1976. Hedling 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 political climate that Bergman chose to celebrate the bourgeois society in which he was raised.

Some thoughts on future directions

Despite the enormous volume of research on Bergman, a number of avenues of investigation remain unexplored. One such avenue pertains to Bergman’s role in post-war Swedish society as well as to the political role of the artist in society in general. Bergman became a very powerful figure within the Swedish cultural establishment during his lifetime, playing a dominant role in theatre culture, particularly in Stockholm, and in the Swedish film and television industry from 1960 onwards. Bergman made—and probably also unmade—the professional careers of many people. While accounts attesting to this fact remain in common circulation today, they are far from systematized. One possible research project might involve interviewing the many first-hand witnesses to Bergman’s influence while they are still alive.

Regarding production studies (concerning which this volume contains some exemplary chapters), much remains to be uncovered with respect to Bergman’s international and other industry contacts. Any such studies would need to make use of the Ingmar Bergman Archive, an undertaking that requires either some degree of proficiency in the Swedish language or access to a translator. Of course, this fact does not exclude other kinds of studies; new insights within the fields of philosophy and psychology, for example, would stimulate people to continue to use Bergman’s films as empirical material. In this respect, the potential for further enquiry is equally great for international scholars.

Another obvious and expanding field is, of course, intermedial studies, with Bergman material becoming the subject for other forms of expression. In reality, this phenomenon began decades ago in the form of musicals, operas, theatrical productions, documentary films, concerts, novelizations, and so on. The trend has continued to gain momentum over the years, reaching its peak in 2018. Regarding the cultural output during this centenary year, Ingmar Bergman Foundation director Jan Holmberg writes:

As the year began, we publicly announced our goal of Bergman 100 becoming the largest commemoration of a single filmmaker ever. The outcome exceeded our highest expectations. With thousands of events (screenings of his films, stage performances of his works, documentaries, concerts, book releases, conferences, exhibitions, etc.) held in eighty-odd countries all over the planet, Bergman 100 was an absolutely remarkable success.26

This intermedial explosion will undoubtedly trigger much academic activity.

Finally, there is still something to be said about the aesthetic merit of Bergman’s work. Even if the general tenor of this book tends to favour hailing Bergman as a great and original artist, there is always room for diverging opinions, such as have been articulated elsewhere.27 Whatever the case, his is an enduring legacy.

1 For instance, Swedish publishing house Norstedts published several Bergman film scripts, hitherto unavailable in their original Swedish, as well as edited volumes of the director’s own workbooks and a collection of his various literary works. They also published a new scholarly book in Swedish on Bergman’s writings by Jan Holmberg: Författaren Ingmar Bergman (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2018). Two more scholarly books were published on Bergman during the previous year: Anna Sofia Rossholm’s Ingmar Bergman och den lekfulla skriften: studier av anteckningar, utkast och filmidéer i arkivets samlingar (Gothenburg: Makadam, 2017) and Michael Tapper’s Ingmar Bergman’s Face to Face, written in English by a Swede (London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2017).
2 Maaret Koskinen, ed., Ingmar Bergman Revisited: Performance, Cinema and the Arts (London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2008).
3 Only a fraction of the massive corpus of academic writing published on Bergman’s works has been devoted to his groundbreaking theatre productions at Malmö, Stockholm, and Munich. This is probably largely due to the broader world of international scholarship’s limited access to Swedish-language—and even German-language—theatre. Only one theatre scholar, Rikard Loman, an expert on Bergman directing Shakespeare in Sweden, participated in the seminar at Lund. Loman has not contributed to this book, however. Most writings on Bergman’s theatrical work are in Swedish. The classic English-language work on the subject is Ingmar Bergman: Four Decades in the Theater by Lise-Lone Marker and Frederick J. Marker (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
4 Jean Béranger, Ingmar Bergman et ses films (Paris: Le Terrain Vague, 1959) and Jacques Siclier, Ingmar Bergman, Collection Encyclopedique du Cinéma: Les Grandes Createurs du Cinéma 12–13 (Brussels: Club de Livre de Cinéma, 1958).
5 Jean-Luc Godard, ‘Bergmanorama’, Cahiers du Cinéma 15:85 (1958), 1–5.
6 Philip Mosley, Ingmar Bergman: The Cinema as Mistress (London and Boston, MA: Marion Boyars, 1981), Laura Hubner, The Films of Ingmar Bergman: Illusions of Light and Darkness (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and Robin Wood, Ingmar Bergman, rev edn., ed. Barry Keith Grant (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2012). Wood’s highly readable book was originally published in 1969. The new edition, however, was published posthumously and well after Wood’s transition to a Marxist-feminist-gay liberation position. It incorporated new chapters with a different methodological outlook than before.
7 Paisley Livingston, Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982); Paisley Livingston, Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Irving Singer, Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2007); Dan Williams, Klein, Sartre and Imagination in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
8 Erik H. Erikson, ‘Reflections on Dr. Borg’s Life Cycle’, Dædalus 105:2 (1976), 1–28.
9 Frank Gado, The Passion of Ingmar Bergman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1986); Don Fredericksen, Bergman’s Persona, Klasyka Kina (Poznań: Adam Mickiewicz University, 2005); Tapper, Ingmar Bergman’s Face to Face.
10 Richard Aloysius Blake, Lutheran Milieu in the Films of Ingmar Bergman, Arno Press Cinema Program (New York: Arno, 1978); Marc Gervais, Ingmar Bergman: Magician and Prophet (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1999); Robert E. Lauder, God, Death, Art and Love: The Philosophical Vision of Ingmar Bergman (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1989).
11 For example, theology lecturer Hans Nystedt, Ingmar Bergman och kristen tro (Stockholm: Verbum, 1989) and former Stockholm bishop Caroline Krook, Rastlös sökare och troende tvivlare: Existentiella frågor i filmer av Ingmar Bergman (Stockholm: Verbum, 2017).
12 Jörn Donner, The Personal Vision of Ingmar Bergman, translated from Swedish by Holger Lundbergh (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1964).
13 Mikael Timm, Lusten och dämonerna: Boken om Bergman (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2008).
14 Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography, translated from Swedish by Joan Tate (New York and London: Penguin, 1988) and Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film, translated from Swedish by Marianne Ruuth (New York: Arcade, 1990).
15 Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman, Twayne’s World Authors 32 (Boston, MA: Twayne, 1968).
16 Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005).
17 Maaret Koskinen, Spel och speglingar: En studie i Ingmar Bergmans filmiska estetik (PhD dissertation Stockholm University, Department of Theatre and Cinema Studies, 1993).
18 Maaret Koskinen, Ingmar Bergman: ‘Allting föreställer, ingenting är’; Filmen och teatern, en tvärestetisk studie (Nora: Nya Doxa, 2001).
19 Maaret Koskinen, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence: Pictures in the Typewriter, Writings on the Screen, Nordic Film Classics (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2010).
20 Christo Burman, I teatralitetens brännvidd: Om Ingmar Bergmans filmkonst (Umeå: Atrium, 2010).
21 Daniel Humphrey, Queer Bergman: Sexuality, Gender, and the European Art Cinema (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2013).
22 Alexis Luko, Sonatas, Screams, and Silence: Music and Sound in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (New York and London: Routledge, 2016).
23 Peter Cowie, Ingmar Bergman: A Critical Biography (New York: Charles Scribner, 1982).
24 Arthur Janov, The Primal Scream. Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis (New York: Dell Publishing, 1970).
25 Timothy Morton, Ecology without Nature (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 2007).
26 Jan Holmberg, ‘2018: The Year of Bergman’, 1918–2018 Bergman: A Summary of the Ingmar Bergman Year, chronicle produced and published by the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, Stockholm, 2019, p. 1.
27 One of the most notorious pieces of criticism of Bergman as a filmmaker was published by the well-known American critic Jonathan Rosenbaum just a few days after Bergman’s passing. See ‘Scenes from an Overrated Career’, The New York Times, 4 August 2007.
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Ingmar Bergman

An enduring legacy



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