Rewriting God’s Plot: Ingmar Bergmann and Feminine Narrative

  • Author(s): Mark B. Sandberg
  • When: 1991-11
  • Where: Scandinavian Studies
  • Discussion of Ingmar Bergman's films from the 1940s and 1950s frequently mentions a dependence on literary forms.' Heavily plotted, these early films abound in framing devices, flashbacks, obtrusive voice-overs, and other narrative pyrotechnics. Bergman's dependence on a conspicuous narrative apparatus is evident not only in the earliest adaptations of plays and novels, which understandably retain a literary feel, but also even more markedly in his original scripts of the late forties and fifties with a proliferation of narrative layering around his core stories. The formal excess of these films creates rich narrative tensions that not only foreground the "storiness" of the story, but more importantly direct attention to the fundamental conditions of narrativity. Although the metafilmic framing devices function as disclaimers distancing the viewer from the fiction, the frames themselves seem to be under scrutiny as well. A second commonplace of Bergman scholarship is that he is preoccupied with metaphysics. References to God's silence begin early on as tangential observations in the so-called "crisis films* and eventually assume more prominence in films such as Det sjunde integlet (The Seventh Seal, 1957) and the films of the first trilogy. After this point Bergman proclaimed himself to be through with the unproductive metaphysical "puffings and blowings."

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