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The Demons of Modernity

The Demons of Modernity: Ingmar Bergman and European Cinema

John Orr
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 140
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  • Book Info
    The Demons of Modernity
    Book Description:

    Ingmar Bergman's films had a very broad and rich relationship with the rest of European cinema, contrary to the myth that Bergman was a peripheral figure, culturally and aesthetically isolated from the rest of Europe. This book contends that he should be put at the very center of European film history by chronologically comparing Bergman's relationship to key European directors such as Carl Theodor Dreyer, Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Andrei Tarkovsky, and also looks at Bergman's critical relationship to key movements in film history such as the French New Wave. In so doing, it demonstrates how Ingmar Bergman's films illustrate the demonic struggle in modernity between faith and secularity through "his intense preoccupation with the malaise of intimacy."

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-979-4
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. 1-8)
    Maaret Koskinen

    John Orr was ‘old-fashioned’ in the best sense of the word. That is, he was the kind of scholar you seldom meet anymore, simply because of the mere breadth of his interests – sociology, politics, literature, film, indeed culture at large. Yet it is precisely this kind of ‘old-fashioned’ scholarship that is needed for the future, not least because of its inbuilt desire to bridge both geographical and disciplinary boundaries.

    As such John Orr’s work is well known and needs no extensive reiteration here. But, given the subject of the present book, let us remind ourselves of Orr’s previous publications on...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Ingmar Bergman: The Demons of Modernity
    (pp. 9-31)

    The death of Ingmar Bergman at the age of 89 in 2007 marked the end of an artist who defined the twentieth century as much as Joyce, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot or Brecht, yet who was also an artist about whose talents many critics are still ambivalent. And an artist too whose story is like no other. For not only did Bergman grow up, like many artists of his generation, during a deep crisis in European Christianity; he also grew up under the shadow of European fascism. And unlike many who turned as a result to the far Left, he made...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Shadow of Transcendence: Dreyer–Bergman–Tarkovsky
    (pp. 32-61)

    In cinema transcendence is two things. It is surpassing, of the limits and boundaries of the life-world: a mode of surpassing pronounced by religious faith, political utopia, visions of the supernatural and extra sensory perception. It is also transfiguration: a miraculous transformation on screen of the human image where none seems possible – in short a resurrection. In this respect Bergman’s films are seldom transcendental: they probe the very boundaries and limits of the life-world and question what is beyond relentlessly, but in vain. They are on the rebound from the effort of surpassing and no resurrection seems possible. Yet they...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Lure of the Archipelago: Bergman–Godard–New Wave
    (pp. 62-90)

    Some critics contend that Bergman’s modernism ‘followed’ Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave (Dixon 2000:44–61). The truth is the opposite. It was the fascination theCahiers du cinémagroup felt for 1950s Bergman that acted as a trigger for their New Wave innovations in the 1960s. Delayed French release dates prevented instant response to Bergman, but from 1956 to 1959 the following films all made theCahierstop ten annual list –Summer Interlude,Sawdust and Tinsel,Smiles of a Summer Night,DreamsandWild Strawberries. The momentum continued into the 1960s withThrough a Glass Darkly,The Silence,...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Existential Stoicism: Bergman–Antonioni
    (pp. 91-110)

    When Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni died within a day of each other in 2007, Europe lost two of its greatest filmmakers. Their careers had begun at the end of the Second World War, their reputations had flourished in the 1960s, and their films of that decade glossed the troubled relationship between intimacy and modernity at the core of middle-class life. Bergman kept it tight, shooting almost exclusively on Fårö or in the studio. Intimacy was largely confined to triangles and quartets, often linked by family, inherently claustrophobic even in open landscapes, and, as a rule, far away from the city....

  9. Afterword and Acknowledgements
    (pp. 111-112)
    Anne Orr

    John Orr died suddenly in 2010 while working on this book. He had been interested in writing on Bergman for some years, but as a writer on film he would only embark on a study of a major director if he felt that he had something new and fresh to add to the existing literature.

    Viewing Bergman through the prism of modernity in a detailed comparison with other European directors gave John the original approach he desired, and the book as it now stands provides an intellectually rigorous discussion of Bergman and his place in twentieth-century film-making and the political,...

  10. Filmography
    (pp. 113-116)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 117-120)
  12. Index
    (pp. 121-126)