Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.
The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.
We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil — or perhaps a saint — out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.
Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Now let's get this Devil business straight, once and for all. To begin at the beginning: the notion of God, one might say, has changed aspect over the years, until it has either become so vague that it has faded away altogether or else has turned into something entirely different. For me, hell has always been a most suggestive sort of place; but I've never regarded it as being located anywhere else than on earth. Hell is created by human beings — on earth!
What I believed in those days — and believed in for a long time — was the existence of a virulent evil, in no way dependent upon environmental or hereditary factors. Call it original sin or whatever you like — anyway an active evil, of which human beings, as opposed to animals, have a monopoly. Our very nature, qua human beings, is that inside us we always carry around destructive tendencies, conscious or unconscious, aimed both at ourselves and at the outside world.
As a materialization of this virulent, indestructible, and — to us — inexplicable and incomprehensble evil, I manufactured a personage possessing the diabolical traits of a mediaeval morality figure. In various contexts I'd made it into a sort of private game to have a diabolic figure hanging around. His evil was one of the springs in my watch-works. And that's all there is to the devil-figure in my early films... Unmotivated cruelty is something which never ceases to fascinate me; and I'd very much like to know the reason for it. Its source is obscure and I'd very much like to get at it.
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
We drove about, looking for churches, my father and I. My father, as you probably know, was a clergyman — he knew all the Uppland churches like the back of his hand. We went to morning services in variouis places and were deeply impressed by the spiritual poverty of these churches, by the lack of any congregation and the miserable spiritual status of the clergy, the poverty of their sermons, and the nonchalance and indifference of the ritual.
In one church, I remember — and I think it has a great deal to do with the end of the film — Father and I were sitting together. My father had already been retired for many years, and was old and frail.... Just before the bell begins to toll, we hear a car outside, a shining Volvo: the clergyman climbs out hurriedly, and there is a faint buzz from the vestry, and then the clergyman appears before he ought to — when the bell stops, that is — and says he feels very poorly and that he's talked to the rector and the rector has said he can use an abbrviated form of the service and drop the part at the altar. So there would be just one psalm and a sermon and another psalm. And goes out. Whereon my father, furious, began hammering on the pew, got to his feet and marched out into the vestry, where a long mumbled conversation ensued; after which the churchwarden also went in, then someone ran up the organ gallery to fetch the organist, after which the churchwarden came out and announced that there would be a complete service after all. My father took the service at the altar, but at the beginning and the end.
In some way I feel the end of the play was influenced by my father's intervention — that at all costs one must do what it is one's duty to do, particularly in spiritual contexts. Even if it can seem meaningless.
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
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