Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher

From The Irving Singer Library

Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher

Reflections on His Creativity

By Irving Singer

The development of themes, motifs, and techniques in Bergman's films, from the first intimations in the early work to the consummate resolutions in the final movies.





The development of themes, motifs, and techniques in Bergman's films, from the first intimations in the early work to the consummate resolutions in the final movies.

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 while Bergman'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's Children) as well as the less obviously autobiographical ones (including Wild Strawberries, The Seventh 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 Summer Night, 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.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262195638 256 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in


$17.95 T ISBN: 9780262513234 256 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in


  • 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 longwinded and less stimulating one.


  • A book that is not only informative but also insightful and illuminating.

    Robert E. Lauder



  • A pleasure to read.

    Richard Peña

    Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center, andAssociate Professor, Film Division, School of the Arts, Columbia University

  • In his new book, Irving Singer offers a complex and original reading of Bergman's creative universe, where the organic development from the earlyfilms and onwards is especially highlighted. Even those who are deeply familiar with Bergman's universe will find rich food for new thoughts.

    Astrid Söderberg-Widding

    Ingmar Bergman Chair, Department of Cinema Studies, Stockholm University, and President, Ingmar Bergman Foundation


  • Shortlisted for the 2008 Kraszna-Krausz Award for the Best Moving Image Book.