Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Bergman, Ingmar

(1918-2007) Swedish movie director, renowned as one of the world's leading moviemakers; he is also a distinguished theatrical producer and screenwriter. Outside Sweden, IB is chiefly known for his psychological dramas in which he – like Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982) – creates a world of his own in the microcosmos of the film studio. But he has also made a number of light-hearted comedies dealing with the impossible complexities of Love.

Most of IB's movies contain obvious fantasy elements, from the internationally acclaimed The Seventh Seal (1957; ot Sjunde inseglet), based on a medieval church painting of Death playing Chess with a knight for the lives of a family of innocent jesters, to his celebrated family drama Fanny and Alexander (1982; ot Fanny och Alexander), with its overwhelmingly rich world, filled with Central European imagery – where horror marches side-by-side with happiness, where the dead stay with their families, helping them along, and where Magic is a part of everyday life. Magic, and its ways and means, play an important part in IB's comedy The Devil's Eye (1960; ot Djävulens öga), where the Devil, in a manner reminiscent of a Folktale or perhaps a Mikhail Bulgakov story, sends Don Juan up to Earth in order to seduce an innocent young girl – who instead seduces Don Juan. Another well known fantasy by IB is the comedy Wild Strawberries (1957; ot Smultronstället), where an old man – played by none other than the great Swedish director Victor Sjöström (1879-1960), who himself directed several fantasy movies – dreams of his forthcoming death in a sequence that nods to Carl Th Dreyer's famous Vampire movie, Vampyr (1932). The Hour of the Wolf (1968; ot Vargtimmen) is, by contrast, a terrifying movie, in which horrific nightmares (see Dreams) seem to be reified. Persona (1966), perhaps the weirdest of the many Identity-Exchange movies that have been made, is often hailed as IB's masterpiece.

Yet IB's most interesting fantasy work might be his filmed theatre production of Mozart's The Magic Flute (1975; ot Trollflojten) (see Opera); a fantasy opera to start with, this is one of IB's most complex works as he develops the original into a brilliant trip into an archetypal world of dreams and startling images, sometimes reminiscent of August Strindberg's A Dream Play (1902; ot Ett drömspel).

Further relevant movies are The Face (1958; ot Ansiktet; vt The Magician US) and The Virgin Spring (1959; ot Jungfrukallan). [SJL]

Ingmar Bergman


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.