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Hardcover | Out of Print | 256 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | September 2007 | ISBN: 9780262195638
Paperback | $16.95 Trade | £14.95 | 256 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | September 2009 | ISBN: 9780262513234
eBook | $11.95 Trade | September 2009 | ISBN: 9780262253710
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Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher

Reflections on His Creativity


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.

About the Author

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


“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.”—John Simon, Bloomberg
“A book that is not only informative but also insightful and illuminating.”—Robert E. Lauder, Commonweal


“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.