A Beginner’s Guide to Ingmar Bergman

Tom Jolliffe offers a beginner’s guide to the work of Ingmar Bergman

To know Ingmar Bergman’s work is to understand a director who has impacted cinema as greatly as anyone. A true master by any measure of directorial influence, he’s a man whose work is iconic, even to the unbeknown who’ve never seen his films. A cinematic image as famous as any, sees a man pitted in a game of chess against the grim reaper. An image which has been mocked and spoofed many times. That image coming from perhaps his most widely known film (indeed because of that one image), The Seventh Seal.

Bergman’s films to a modern audience may seem unapproachable. A read of any Bergman synopsis will often seem as though you’re in for a grim old time, but even in the darkest subjects he touches upon, there’s a visual
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