Ingmar Bergman

Ernst Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) is one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. Unless you went to film school, you've probably never seen his movies.

Bergman is kind of a curveball as far as things from Sweden go

The theology of Ingmar Bergman

Just The Facts

  1. Ingmar Bergman is from Sweden.
  2. Ingmar Bergman slept with nearly all of his lead actresses at one point or another.
  3. Ingmar Bergman's views on God varied throughout his career from conscientious agnosticism to turd-flippingly insane.
  4. Ingmar Bergman's 60+ films vary in tone and style from emotionally harrowing chamber play to "what the balls is going on in this movie?".

Key Films by Ingmar Bergman

The Seventh Seal / Det Sjunde Inseglet (1957)

Plot Summary: Antonius Block returns home from the crusades to find his homeland ravished by the plague. When Death comes to claim him, Block convinces Death to play him in chess for his life. He fails to outsmart death (see what they did there?), but intentionally stalls long enough for his friends to escape. In sacrificing himself for others, he finds meaning in his life despite no longer believing that God gives a shit about us.

Fun Fact: This was the movie that started the whole 'playing chess with death' thing. Remember: It's not a cliche if you did it first.

Stuff You Might Have Seen That This Influenced: Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Monty Python's Meaning of Life, that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is dating the actress he can't stand.

The Virgin Spring / Jungfruk����¯�¿�½���¯���¿���½������¯������¿������½����¯�¿�½���¯���¿���½����¯�¿�½������¤llan (1960)

Plot Summary: The daughter of a wealthy Christian noble is raped and murdered on the way to church. Her attackers then unwittingly seek lodging for the night in the home of the aforementioned noble. Once the noble figures out what happened, he totally murders the shit out of his daughter's attackers. Then, shocked by his own brutality, he starts to question the existence of God.

Fun Fact: This movie was banned in the city of Fort Worth, Texas when it first came out because of the rape scene.

Stuff You Might Have Seen That This Influenced: Last House on the Left, the remake of Last House on the Left

Through A Glass Darkly / S����¯�¿�½������¥som i en spegel (1961)

Plot Summary: Karin is a schizophrenic who's just returned to her family's vacation home from a mental institution. When her family members are unable to give her the support she needs, she has a vision of God as a spider that tries to force itself on her, and then decides to check into a mental hospital.

Fun Fact: The movie ends on a positive note as Karin's father expresses his belief that God is love. Because apparently in Sweden love = arachnid rape.

Stuff You Might Have Seen That This Influenced: Um...there's gotta be a spiderman porn floating around somewhere on the internet.

Persona (1966)

Plot Summary: Ohhhh boy...where do we even start? Elisabet is a great stage actor who suddenly goes mute one day. Alma is a nurse assigned to take care of her. The two go to a seaside cabin for Elisabet's therapy. Alma comes to hate Elisabet to the point of physical abuse. Also, Alma confesses to having cheated on her fiance one time with a couple of adolescent boys on the beach and aborting the resulting child. Also, Alma and Elisabet might be the same person. Or maybe not. People with PhDs argue about that.

Fun Fact: If you watch the opening sequence carefully enough, you'll see a few frames of somebody's boner, because fuck you for trying to understand this movie.

Stuff You Might Have Seen That This Influenced: Mulholland Drive, Antichrist

Fanny and Alexander / Fanny och Alexander (1982)

Plot Summary: Okay, honestly, your guess is as good as ours.

Fun Fact: People who study Ingmar Bergman think this is his most autobiographical film. Because apparently his life makes even less sense than most of his movies.

Stuff You Might Have Seen That This Influenced: In hindsight this may have been a poor choice of format for an article about Ingmar Bergman.

Max Von Sydow

Max von Sydow acted in 13 of Bergman's films, including the first three listed above. He gets his own section because we are freaking terrified of Max von Sydow. You may recognize him as Father Merrin, but we recognize him as the Swedish Chuck Norris.

Let's take The Virgin Spring as a test case. In this movie, Max has facial hair that tells you right off the bat that shit is about to get real:

Pictured: Shit about to get real

Then, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, he does this:

In case you missed it, Max von Sydow just wrestled a tree. And won. He fucking won. He pulled a tree out of the ground with his bare hands. And then he flogged himself with it.

Oh, and then in the climax of the movie he picks up a small child and throws him across the room until the child dies. Seriously. Why, you ask? Because Max von Sydow does not give a fuck.

Wait, actually he does give a fuck. He's so shocked by his own badassery that he has a moral crisis and questions the existence of God.

The Ingmar Bergman Drinking Game

Now that you know everything you need to know about Ingmar Bergman, you can Netflix a few of his movies and play this game with your buddies:

One Drink

  • a character appears in a mirror
  • two characters have a dialogue while at least one is staring an the abyss
  • Max von Sydow murders someone who totally deserved it
  • Something makes no fucking sense

Two Drinks

  • a character questions the existence of God
  • a character has a moral crisis
  • Sven Nykvist is a genius

Three Drinks

  • a female character is more in touch with her sexuality than a male character
  • a child is the vehicle of adult anxieties
  • the intensity of a dramatic moment is undermined because you can't stop thinking about the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show

Chug at most once per movie if any of the following happens

  • Max von Sydow murders someone who didn't deserve it, has a moral crisis, and questions the existence of God
  • Life-altering identity crisis�with sexy results!
  • Profound sense of despair in the face of a cold universe that has no concern for humanity
  • Profound sense of hope in spite of a cold universe that has no concern for humanity