Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity

Overview

Known for their repeating motifs and signature tropes, the films of Ingmar Bergman also contain extensive variation and development. In these reflections on Bergman's artistry and thought, Irving Singer discerns distinctive themes in Bergman's filmmaking, from first intimations in the early work to consummate resolutions in the later movies. Singer demonstrates that whileBergman's output is not philosophy on celluloid, it attains an expressive and purely aesthetic truthfulness that can be considered philosophical...

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Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity

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Overview

Known for their repeating motifs and signature tropes, the films of Ingmar Bergman also contain extensive variation and development. In these reflections on Bergman's artistry and thought, Irving Singer discerns distinctive themes in Bergman's filmmaking, from first intimations in the early work to consummate resolutions in the later movies. Singer demonstrates that whileBergman's output is not philosophy on celluloid, it attains an expressive and purely aesthetic truthfulness that can be considered philosophical in a broader sense. Through analysis of both narrative and filmic effects, Singer probes Bergman's mythmaking and his reliance upon the magic inherent in his cinematic techniques. Singer traces throughout the evolution of Bergman's ideas about life and death, and about the possibility of happiness and interpersonal love. In the overtly self-referential films that he wrote or directed (The Best Intentions, Fanny and Alexander, Sunday'sChildren) as well as the less obviously autobiographical ones (including Wild Strawberries, TheSeventh Seal, and the triad that begins with Through a Glass Darkly) Bergman investigates problems in his existence and frequently reverts to childhood memories. In such movies as Smiles of a SummerNight, Scenes from a Marriage, and Saraband, Bergman draws upon his mature experience and depicts the troubled relationships between men who are often weak and women who are made to suffer by the damaged men with whom they live. In Persona, Cries and Whispers, and other works, his experiments with the camera are uniquely masterful. Inspecting the panorama of Bergman's art, Singer shows how the endless search for human contact motivates the content of his films and reflects Bergman's profound perspective on the world.

Irving Singer is Professor of Philosophy atMIT. He is the author of Reality Transformed: Film as Meaning and Technique, Three PhilosophicalFilmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir (both published by The MIT Press), and many other books.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Irving Singer's book is well grounded, clearly thought out, and lucidly written.

Though the author is a professor of philosophy, it is neither academic nor esoteric, but plain-spoken and informative. The work of a man who has long lived with and often written about film, this concise volume on Bergman says more than many another long-winded and less stimulating one." John Simon Critic

Library Journal

This paean to the cinematic genius of Ingmar Bergman is unflagging in its devotion to the Swedish director's vision. Singer's (philosophy, MIT; Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir) knowledge of the filmmaker is exhaustive, and at times the breadth of his argument loses readers who may not be as well versed in his large body of work. Six films are analyzed in-depth and over 35 mentioned in passing. The text flows quickly: Singer has more than a dozen books to his name and retains an accessible voice even while discussing complex aesthetic subjects. There are glancing comparisons to other directors, Welles and Hitchcock mainly, but there is little discussion of Bergman in relation to anyone but himself. The director seems never to have made a misstep in this critic's eyes-an argument that may stretch a point. Still, the book inspires the reader to revisit Bergman's catalog and explore new questions raised. Recommended for academic collections.
—Christian Zabriskie

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262513234
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2009
  • Series: The Irving Singer Library
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving Singer is Professor of Philosophy at MIT. He is the author of the trilogiesThe Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, P hilosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up, Mozart and Beethoven: The Concept of Love inTheir Operas, all published by the MIT Press, and many other books.

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