Ingmar Bergman’s Blog

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Ingmar Bergman was one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century — not only for his films, but also as a master of the theatre and the novel. To have accomplished so much in any one art form is amazing; across three different artistic disciplines is astounding, and unparalleled. His theatre productions and novels were as insightful, complex, intimate, and immediate as his films. Bergman also left us an unique record of an artist at work, in his books Magic Lantern and Images. Bergman provides us with his own inspirations, points of view, practical approaches, and dreams. He was an artist determined to let us see, search, understand and question.

To honor him, his own words:

from an Interview with Michiko Kakutani

I have maintained open channels with my childhood. I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it was “” with lights, smells, sounds and people … I remember the silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the tension between my father and mother.

from The Magic Lantern

I read ceaselessly, often without understanding, but I had a sensitive ear for tone: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Balzac, Defoe, Swift, Flaubert, Nietzsche and, of course, Strindberg.

from Images — on The Seventh Seal

What attracted me was the whole idea of people traveling through the downfall of civilization and culture, giving birth to new songs.

from Sunday’s Children

Erik Bergman was thin-skinned and suspicious, nor did he forgive easily. He never forgot a real or imagined injury.

Even in those days, I had difficulties with reality, its limits unclear and dictated by adult outsiders.

from Best Intentions

I possess fragmentary notes, brief tales, isolated episodes. Those are the numbered dots. I draw my lines in what may well be vain hope of a face appearing. Perhaps a glimpse of the truth of my own life. Why should I otherwise take so much trouble?

from The Magic Lantern

When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside.

from his introduction to the printed Scenes from a Marriage

This opus took three months to write, but rather a long part of my life to experience. I’m not sure that it would have turned out better had it been the other way round, though it would have seemed nicer. I have felt a kind of affection for those people while I’ve been occupied with them. They have grown rather contradictory, sometimes anxiously childish, sometimes pretty grown-up. They talk quite a lot of rubbish, now and then saying something sensible. They are nervous, happy, selfish, stupid, kind, wise, self-sacrificing, affectionate, angry, gentle, sentimental, insufferable, and lovable. All jumbled up. Now let’s see what happens.

from The Magic Lantern

In all the theatres I have worked in for any length of time, I have been given my own lavatory. These conveniences are probably my most lasting contribution to the history of the theatre.

from Sunday’s Children

And Pu asks once and, when he gets no answer, once again: When shall I die? The watchmaker thinks, and then Pu seems to hear a whisper, which is unclear and blurred because of that bloodstained mouth and those still lips: Always. The answer to the question is: always.

from The Best Intentions

Try to understand that God is part of his creation, just as Bach lives in his B-minor mass. You’re interpreting a composition. Sometimes it’s puzzling, but that’s unavoidable. When you let the music sound — then you evince Bach. Read the notes! And play them as best as you can. But don’t doubt the existence of Bach and the Creator.

from The Magic Lantern

On the Sunday, Erland Josephson and I were in my room at the theatre talking about Bach, who had returned from a journey to find that his wife and two of the children had died during his absence. He wrote in his diary: “Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.”

All through my conscious life, I had lived with what Bach calls his joy. It had carried me through crises and misery and functioned as faithfully as my heart, sometimes overwhelming and difficult to handle, but never antagonistic or destructive. Bach called this state his joy, a joy in God. Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.

from Images

To be an artist for one’s own sake is not always pleasant. But it has one enormous advantage: the artist shares his condition with every other living being who also exists solely for his own sake. When all is said and done, we doubtless constitute a fairly large brotherhood, which thus exists within a selfish community on our warm and dirty earth, beneath a cold and empty sky.

- Bill Reichblum

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