The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography

Overview

“When a film is not a document, it is a dream. . . . At the editing table, when I run the strip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood.” Bergman, who has conveyed this heady sense of wonder and vision to moviegoers for decades, traces his lifelong love affair with film in his breathtakingly visual autobiography, The Magic Lantern.

More grand mosaic than linear account, Bergman’s vignettes trace his life from a rural Swedish ...

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Overview

“When a film is not a document, it is a dream. . . . At the editing table, when I run the strip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood.” Bergman, who has conveyed this heady sense of wonder and vision to moviegoers for decades, traces his lifelong love affair with film in his breathtakingly visual autobiography, The Magic Lantern.

More grand mosaic than linear account, Bergman’s vignettes trace his life from a rural Swedish childhood through his work in theater to Hollywood’s golden age, and a tumultuous romantic history that includes five wives and more than a few mistresses. Throughout, Bergman recounts his life in a series of deeply personal flashbacks that document some of the most important moments in twentieth-century filmmaking as well as the private obsessions of the man behind them. Ambitious in scope yet sensitively wrought, The Magic Lantern is a window to the mind of one of our era’s great geniuses.

“[Bergman] has found a way to show the soul’s landscape . . . . Many gripping revelations.”—New York Times Book Review

“Joan Tate’s translation of this book has delicacy and true pitch . . . The Magic Lantern is as personal and penetrating as a Bergman film, wry, shadowy, austere.”—New Republic

“[Bergman] keeps returning to his past, reassessing it, distilling its meaning, offering it to his audiences in dazzling new shapes.”—New York Times

“What Bergman does relate, particularly his tangled relationships with his parents, is not only illuminating but quite moving. No ‘tell-all’ book this one, but revealing in ways that much longer and allegedly ‘franker’ books are not.”—Library Journal

A personal document of the turbulent career of one of the greatest shapers of modern vision in cinema.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books - John Osborne

“Bergman’s minute recall is essentially, astonishingly, visual. Description after description stamp out scenes from his films. The man, his memory, his work are one. . . . It is wonderfully liberating to be made privy to the tangible relish in his craft . . . The Magic Lantern is no conventional autobiography, more a scalding stream of consciousness from the pen of a licentious puritan. . . . He is funny and crisp about several of the Famous and unstrainingly vicious about the dead and dismal critics.” —New York Review of Books

New York Times Book Review - Woody Allen

“[Bergman] has found a way to show the soul’s landscape. . . . Many gripping revelations.”

New Republic - Stanley Kaufman

"In its structure, its tone, its intent, Bergman's book asks to be judged, not as a factual account, however good, but as a work of literature. It succeeds--exactly as he wanted it to: The Magic Lantern is as personal and penetrating as a Bergman film, wry, shadowy, austere
Film International - Kristi McKim

"Combined with the life-affecting astonishment that his brutal and beautiful films inspre, The Magic Lantern cultivates a sensitivity towards this film-loving, somethimes self-loathing, somethimes faith-avowing Ingmar Bergman."
New York Review of Books

“Bergman’s minute recall is essentially, astonishingly, visual. Description after description stamp out scenes from his films. The man, his memory, his work are one. . . . It is wonderfully liberating to be made privy to the tangible relish in his craft . . . The Magic Lantern is no conventional autobiography, more a scalding stream of consciousness from the pen of a licentious puritan. . . . He is funny and crisp about several of the Famous and unstrainingly vicious about the dead and dismal critics.” —New York Review of Books

— John Osborne

New York Times Book Review

“[Bergman] has found a way to show the soul’s landscape. . . . Many gripping revelations.”—Woody Allen, New York Times Book Review


— Woody Allen

New Republic

"In its structure, its tone, its intent, Bergman's book asks to be judged, not as a factual account, however good, but as a work of literature. It succeeds--exactly as he wanted it to: The Magic Lantern is as personal and penetrating as a Bergman film, wry, shadowy, austere

— Stanley Kaufman

Film International

"Combined with the life-affecting astonishment that his brutal and beautiful films inspre, The Magic Lantern cultivates a sensitivity towards this film-loving, somethimes self-loathing, somethimes faith-avowing Ingmar Bergman."

— Kristi McKim

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bergman's magic lantern (representing both memory and a toy cinematograph he obtained as a child) swings backward and forward between his early life in Lutheran parsonages and his experiences as an internationally renowned director of films, plays and operas. Ignoring strict chronology, it explores his relations with his parents and older brother, his introduction to the theater, his successes and failures, and his decision (after Fanny and Alexander ) to stop making films. Bergman, having always suffered from a nervous stomach and chronic insomnia, also candidly acknowledges his weaknesses and fears, frightening dreams and bouts of temper, his infatuation with Hitler and Nazism during the 1930s and his obsession with sex, as well as the special, sensual happiness in being a film director. A reader's disappointment over the paltry detail and characterization of Bergman's wives, children and loversand of his filmsis somewhat dissipated by the inclusion of numerous anecdotes about Chaplin, Garbo, Karajan, Olivier and especially Ingrid Bergman, who continued to work on Autumn Sonata while she was dying, and by occasional judgments about fellow practitioners (for example, that Soviet film director Tarkovsky is ``the greatest of them all''). Photos not seen by PW. 40,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo; first serial to American Film. (September)
Library Journal
As a filmmaker, Bergman stands alone among postwar artists in his relentless dissection of the human soul's dark side. The Seventh Seal , Persona , and Shame are but a few of his long string of masterworks. This autobiography, although naturally of great interest, proffers a mixed blessing. The volume's brevity is disappointing, as is, at least for film fans, the author's extensive descriptions of his theater work. What Bergman does relate, particularly his tangled relationships with his parents, is not only illuminating but quite moving. No ``tell-all'' book this one, but revealing in ways that much longer and allegedly ``franker'' books are not.Thomas Wiener, formerly of ``American Film,'' Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226043821
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2007
  • Pages: 314
  • Sales rank: 324,877
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ingmar Bergman is a Swedish filmmaker who has written and directed over fifty films.  He is the recipient of three Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny and Alexander.

 

Joan Tate (1922–2000) was a prolific translator of Swedish works into English.

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Table of Contents

The Magic Lantern 
Ingmar Bergman: A Chronology by Peter Cowie
Index                                       

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