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Between Stage and Screen

Between Stage and Screen: Ingmar Bergman Directs

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Between Stage and Screen
    Book Description:

    Ingmar Bergman is worldwide known as a film and stage director. Yet no-one has attempted to compare his stage and screen activities. In Between stage and screen Egil Törnqvist examines formal and thematical correspondences and differences between a number of Bergman's stage, screen, and radio productions. In the prologue Bergman's spiritual and aesthetic heritage and his position in the twentieth century media landscape is outlined. In the epilogue the question is answered to what extent one can speak of Bergman's directorial 'method' irrespective of the chosen medium. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0565-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. PROLOGUE The Stage and the Screen
    (pp. 9-20)

    With his fifty feature films, around a hundred stage performances, some forty radio versions, about fifteen television transmissions, a few opera productions, and even a libretto contribution to a ballet — not to mention his work as a playwright, screenwriter, and adaptor — Ingmar Bergman has presumably proved more productive and versatile than any other director to date.

    A Sunday child, born into a clerical Stockholm family on the French national holiday in the year ending the first World War, Bergman at an early age — as shown inFanny and Alexander— was a ‘director’ already in the nursery. There he staged plays...

  5. Part 1 The Stage Director

    • Strindberg, The Dream Play (1970)
      (pp. 23-29)

      With his pioneeringDream Play(1902),¹ Slrindberg set the tone for the non-Aristotelian drama to come. Loosely imitating the form of a dream to evoke the feeling that life is a dream, the traditional division of acts and scenes is lacking. For the same reason, there is no list ofdramatis personae.

      The play describes how Indra’s Daughter descends to the Castle of Earth, where she is reincarnated as Agnes. Gradually, she is made aware of human misery. The nadir is reached in the middle of the play, where she experiences the most intimate kind of human relationship – marriage – as...

    • Strindberg, The Ghost Sonata (1973)
      (pp. 30-45)

      In a Prologue written for the opening of his own Intimate Theater in Stockholm. whereThe Ghost Sonata(1907) was first performed, Slrindberg speaks of the journey that mankind must undertake “from the Isle of the Living to the Isle of the Dead.” He was alluding to Amold Bocklin’s well-known paintings of these subjects; at his request copies of these were placed at either side of the stage in the Intimate Theater.¹ InThe Ghost Sonatawe witness a similar journey. The house we see on the stage represents the House of Life, which at the end vanishes and is...

    • Strindberg, Miss Julie (1985)
      (pp. 46-58)

      Bergman’sMiss Julie,opening at Dramaten on December 7, 1985, was his second stage production of the play and the first one in Swedish. Four years earlier he had staged it at the Residenztheater in Munich with German actors, a production which has been thoroughly documented.¹

      Central to Bergman’s Munich production was the idea that Julie, the daughter of a count, “is a big helpless animal who is done to death by smoothly functioning beasts of prey.... Defeated by her own kind, destroyed by the others.”² By “the others” Bergman apparently meant not only Jean, the Count’s servant, and his...

    • O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night (1988)
      (pp. 59-68)

      O’Neill’s most memorable drama, the finest American drama ever written, produced by one of the foremost directors of our time at the theater which has cared more for O’Neill’s plays than any other – the success of Ingmar Bergman’s production ofLong Day’s Journey into Night,written in 1941 but published, posthumously, not until 1956, opening at the Big Stage of Dramaten on April 16, 1988, seemed guaranteed.

      Like O’Neill – another Strindberg devotee – Bergman has always been very concerned, not only with “the relation between man and man” but also with “the relation between man and God:”¹ It is therefore surprising...

    • Ibsen, A Doll’s House (1989)
      (pp. 69-80)

      How do productions of a play presented by the same director in different countries with a time lapse of some eight years compare? lbsen’sA Doll’s House(1879), staged by Ingmar Bergman first in Germany and then in Sweden, is a case in point.

      On April 30, 1981, hisNora,as the play is often caned in Gennany, opened at the Residenztheater in Munich.¹ Virtually the same text fonned the basis for his second production of the play, opening on November 17, 1989, at the Big Stage of Dramaten, the Swedish equivalent of the Residenltheater. The play now carried the...

    • Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale (1994)
      (pp. 81-92)

      Already in 1932, at the age of 14, Bergman planned “two superproductions for his puppet theatre: on the one handThe Magic Flute,on the otherThe Winter’s Tale.Both projects collapsed.”¹ The former project was realized in 1975, when Bergman’s pioneering screen version of Schikaneder’s and Mozart’s opera was broadcast by Swedish Tele-vision; the laller not until 1994, when his equally pioneering version of Shakespeare’s play was performed at the Big Stage of Dramaten.

      Commenting on the theme ofThe Magic Flute,Bergman writes:

      “Does Pamina still live?” The music translates the little question of the text into a...

  6. Part 2 THE Screen Director

    • The Seventh Seal (1957)
      (pp. 95-111)

      Strindberg’g condescending view of the theater, in the opening passage of the preface toMiss lulie,was more applicable to another art form when Bergman began his career as a director: the film. Here, even more than in the theater, “the ideas of the day” were expressed visually rather than verbally. Moreover, the audience did not have the possibility of reading what was “written or printed,” since film scripts were rarely published.

      In a more restricted sense, the tennBiblia pauperumis especially relevant to Bergman’s one-act moralityWood Painting(1954), which forms the basis for the filmThe Sewnth...

    • Wild Strawberries (1957)
      (pp. 112-127)

      Many film directors have stressed the connection between the film medium and the nocturnal dream. No one has done it us frequently and as emphatically as Ingmar Bergman.¹ One of his most explicit statements on this matter reads:

      No other art-medium ... can communicate the specific quality of the dream as well as film can. When the lights go down in the cinema and this while shining point opens up for us, our gaze stops flitting hither and thither. settles and becomes quite steady. We just sit there, letting the images flow out over us. Our will ceases to function....

    • Strindberg, Storm (1960)
      (pp. 128-136)

      In the spring of 1955, Victor SjöstrÖm, the grand old man of Swedish silent cinema, performed one of his last stage roles, that of the Gentleman in Strindberg’sStorm(1907).¹ Two and a half years later,Wild Strawberrieshad its world premiere. The lead was played by Victor Sjöström, his very last role.

      About two years after this, lngmar Bergman launched his TV production ofStorm.²The performance met with great enthusiasm among the critics. A Danish critic called it a milestone in the history of the teleplay and even went so far as to claim that not until now,...

    • Persona (1966)
      (pp. 137-145)

      Persona,which shares its central interaction between one speaking and one silent character with Strindberg’s monodramaThe Stronger,¹is arguably Bergman’s most daring and most enigmatic film. This is especially true of the cryptic introductory sequence, the suite of images preceding and intertwining the credits.² In the following, I shall focus on this sequence and its relationship to the film proper.

      Although the sequence contains disparate images and abrupt transitions, it is not lacking in structure. The various images tend to form image clusters. There are images of film equipment, of people, of nature, or, more specifically, images of faces,...

    • Cries and Whispers (1973)
      (pp. 146-159)

      Cries and Whispersbegins and ends in the park of a stately mansion. Between these two exterior sequences the action, except for one brief flashback, takes place inside the mansion, primarily in one room. The space is, in other words, exceedingly restricted.

      Four women fonn the nucleus of the action: Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying; her sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Mana (Liv Ullmann); and the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan). The cries and the whispers belong to them. As in a String quartet, we listen to four different ‘instruments’ somehow attuned to one another in this ‘chamber film.’¹


    • Autumn Sonata (1978)
      (pp. 160-173)

      As the title indicates, there is a connection between Bergman’s chamber film¹Autumn Sonataand Strindberg’s chamber playThe Ghost Sonata.Bergman’s film, which opens with a sonata by Ha-ndel, comes in facl even closer to chamber music than Strindberg’s drama. The unities of time and place are more strictly adhered to than in the play. There are four central characters corresponding to the four instruments in a string quartet.² Music plays a dominant role. One of the chief characters is an internationally famous pianist. Also structurally we may, in analogy with the sonata form, speak of an exposition, a...

    • Fanny and Alexander (1982)
      (pp. 174-188)

      Fanny andAlexanderexists in two versions, a shorter one released for cinema transmission and a longer one meant for television. It is the latter, which agrees better with the published script and is regarded as the proper one by Bergman,¹ that will be considered here.

      Intended in the first place as a television series, the script ofFanny and Alexanderis divided into five “acts,” to which are added, in classical theater idiom, a Prologue and an Epilogue.

      In the Prologue, which figures only in the script, we are introduced to the lown in which the drama unfolds. The town,...

  7. Part 3 The Radio Director

    • Strindberg, Easter (1952)
      (pp. 191-194)

      One of the central idea’s inA Dream Playis the recurrent discovery that our imagination far exceeds reality. This tenet explains the attraction theater and film exercise. But it is perhaps especially relevant with regard to radio drama. For “as imagined pictures may be more beautiful and powerful than actual ones, the absence of the visual component in this form of drama may well be a considerable asset.” Listening to a radio play is “more akin to the experience one undergoes whendreamingthan to that of the reader of a novel: the mind is turned to a field...

    • A Matter of the Soul (1990)
      (pp. 195-198)

      Bergman’sA Matter of the Soulwas first broadcast, under his own direction, on January 14, 1990.¹ In September of the same year, it won the jury’s special Pox I1alia. Virtually a monodrama — only toward the end is a second voice heard briefly — the play has a formal affinity with Strindberg’sThe Stronger,O’Neill’sBefore Breakfastand Cocteau’sLa voix humaine;Bergman directed Cocteau’s drama for the radio in 1956.

      The play is divided into 11 short scenes. It opens on a winter morning at half past ten with a gloomy Viktoria (Jane Friedmann) still in bed. As a reminder...

  8. EPILOGUE Between Stage and Screen
    (pp. 199-212)

    To call a film theatrical is still for many the same as rejecting it. For a long time, directors have tried to set film off against theater by accentuating that which theater could not express easily: realistic exteriors, mass scenes, swift changes in time and space, dynamic visual transitions, close-ups. The arrival of television has created a new situation. Theater no longer appears a threat to film. The threat comes from television, which favors many of the techniques traditionally associated with film and which, like film, is regarded as a mainly realistic medium. Just as photography a century ago caused...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 213-225)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 226-230)
  11. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 231-232)
  12. Index
    (pp. 233-243)