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The Inner Demons of Ingmar Bergman

MUBI Special

“Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls. The demons are innumerable, arrive at the most inappropriate times and create panic and terror… but I have learned that if I can master the negative forces and harness them to my chariot, then they can work to my advantage. Lilies often grow out of carcasses’ arseholes.” —Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1946

In Ingmar Bergman’s feature directing debut, urban beauty-shop proprietress Miss Jenny arrives in an idyllic rural town one morning to whisk away her eighteen-year-old daughter, Nelly, whom she abandoned as a child, from the loving woman who has raised her.


Alf Sjöberg Sweden, 1944

Ingmar Bergman’s first produced screenplay was for the great Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s Torment, a dark coming-of-age drama about a boarding-school senior, Widgren, terrorized by his sadistic Latin teacher.


Gustaf Molander Sweden, 1948

During WW2 in neutral Sweden, young sailor Bo, son of a railway stationmaster, comes home from the Navy and reminisces a childhood accident.


Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1949

A couple traveling across a war-ravaged Europe. A disintegrating marriage. A ballet dancer’s scarred past. Her friend’s psychological agony. Elliptically told in flashbacks and multiple narrative threads, Ingmar Bergman’s Thirst shows people enslaved to memory and united in isolation.

A Lesson in Love

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1954

After 15 years of marriage, David and Marianne have grown apart. David has had an affair with a patient of his and Marianne has got herself involved with her former lover Carl-Adam, who’s also David’s best friend.

Summer Interlude

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1951

Touching on many of the themes that would define the rest of his legendary career—isolation, performance, the inescapability of the past—the tenth film by Ingmar Bergman was a gentle sway toward true mastery.

Waiting Women

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1952

Rakel, Marta, Karin and Annette are married to four brothers. While waiting in a summer cottage for their husbands to come home…

Summer with Monika

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1953

Inspired by the earthy eroticism of his muse Harriet Andersson, in the first of her many roles for him, Ingmar Bergman had a major international breakthrough with this ravaging, sensual tale of young love.

Smiles of a Summer Night

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1955

One of film history’s great tragicomedies, Bergman’s internationally-acclaimed Smiles of a Summer Night is a bittersweet portrayal of the laws of attraction among four women and four men in turn-of-the-century Sweden.

Wild Strawberries

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1957

Through flashback sequences, fantasies and dreams, a professor goes on a voyage of self-reflection and discovery. In doing so he muses on the success and failures of his past whilst finding peace in his impending death. A film that catapulted Bergman to international acclaim.

The Seventh Seal

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1957

Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, this is a stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning.

The Magician

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1958

Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists, a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny.

The Virgin Spring

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1960

A parable on good and evil set during the transitional era of Medieval Sweden, when paganism and Christianity coexisted. A father seeks savage retribution for the crime perpetrated against his child. An Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Devil's Eye

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1960

The devil has a stye in his eye, caused by the purity of a vicar’s daughter. To get rid of it, he sends Don Juan up from hell to seduce the 20 year old Britt-Marie and to rob her of her virginity and her belief in love.

Through a Glass Darkly

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1961

While vacationing on a remote island, Karin discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. As she drifts in and out of lucidity, the father, along with her husband and brother, are unable to prevent Karin’s harrowing descent into the abyss of mental illness.

The Silence

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1963

When one of them becomes ill, two sisters stop in a foreign country, seemingly on the brink of war, to stay in a hotel with one of their young sons in the final part of the director’s “Silence of God” trilogy (following Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light).

Winter Light

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1963

The second part of the director’s Silence of God trilogy, which began with Through a Glass Darkly and concludes with The Silence, follows a rural priest with a dwindling congregation as he tackles both an existential and a spiritual crisis.

All These Women

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1964

What is so rare, and cherishable, as an Ingmar Bergman comedy? All These Women concerns the sexual misadventures of cello-playing Jarl Kulle.


Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1966

By the mid 60s, Bergman had already conjured many of the cinema’s most unforgettable images. But with the radical Persona, the supreme artist attained new levels of visual poetry. A nurse is put in charge of an actress who no longer speaks and finds that the actress’ persona is melding with hers.

The Rite

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1969

A theatre troupe is called to court because of obscene performance material and an interrogation ensues, which causes them to expose their neuroses and inner psychological torments.

Cries and Whispers

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1972

Winner of an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist, this existential wail of a drama is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments. Two sisters, keeping vigil for a third, who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant.

Scenes from a Marriage (Theatrical Version)

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1973

Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners. This is the theatrical version Bergman cut from the original five-hour, six-part television version.

Autumn Sonata

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1978

This tale of an icy concert pianist who visits her two neglected, adult daughters over the course of an emotionally tense day marks the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans: director Ingmar and actress Ingrid.

From the Life of the Marionettes

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1980

A sequel of sorts to Scenes from a Marriage, following instead Katarina and Peter Egermann. This made for German-television film was made during Bergman’s exile from Sweden.

Fanny and Alexander (Theatrical Version)

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1982

Through the eyes of sister and brother Fanny and Alexander Ekdahl, the many ups-and-downs of the Ekdahl family at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century are put on display. Bergman intended it as his swan song, and it’s the director’s warmest and most autobiographical film. Winner of four Academy Awards.

After the Rehearsal

Ingmar Bergman Sweden, 1984

A rational, exacting, and self-controlled theatre director is staging a production of Strindberg’s Dream Play. Dozing after rehearsal, he’s woken by his lead actress, who seems out to seduce him. An intimate, revealing and personal look at the heart, mind and soul of the director.

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