The Sensation of Time in Ingmar Bergman’s Poetics of Bodies and Minds

Open access


Bergman’s cinema does more than just focus on a personal reflection of the body as an emotive and emotional vector; his cinema, through the transitory fragility of the human body as represented by his actors, defines the possibilities of a perceptive horizon in which the experience of passing time becomes tangible. Even though the Swedish director’s entire opus is traversed by this reflection, it is particularly evident in the films he made during the 1960s, in which the “room-sized” dimension of the sets permits a higher concentration of space and time. In this “concentration,” in this claustrophobic dimension in which Bergman forces his characters to exist, there is an often inflammable accumulation of affections and emotions searching for release through human contact which is often frustrated, denied, and/or impossible. This situation creates characters who act according to solipsistic directives, in whom physiological and mental traits are fused together, and the notion of phenomenological reality is cancelled out and supplanted by aspects of dreamlike hallucinations, phantasmagorical creations, and psychic drifting. Starting from Hour of the Wolf, this essay highlights the process through which, by fixing in images the physicality of his characters’ sensations, Bergman defines a complex temporal horizon, in which the phenomenological dimension of the linear passage of time merges with, and often turns into, a subjective perception of passing time, creating a synchretic relationship between the quantitative time of the action and the qualitative time of the sensation.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aumont Jacques. 1992. Du visage au cinéma [Face in the Cinema]. Paris: Editions de l’Etoile/Cahiers du Cinéma.

  • Aumont Jacques. 2003. Ingmar Bergman. “Mes fllms sont l’explication de mes images.” [Ingmar Bergman. “My Films Are the Explanation of My Images.”] Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma.

  • Béranger Jean. 1957. Les trois métamorphoses d’Ingmar Bergman [The Three Metamorphoses of Ingmar Bergman]. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 74 (August/ September): 19-28.

  • Bertetto Paolo. 2010. La macchina del cinema [The Machine of Cinema]. Roma- Bari: Laterza.

  • Donner Jörn. 1970. Ingmar Bergman. Paris: Editions Seghers.

  • Douchet Jean. 1959. L’instant privilégié [The Pregnant Moment]. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 95 (May): 51-53.

  • Estève Michel. 1966. Nattvardgästerna (Les Communiants) ou le silence de Dieu [Nattvardgästerna (The Communicants) or the Silence of God]. Études cinématographiques no. 46-47 (1st trimester).

  • Gervais Marc. 1999. Ingmar Bergman. Magician and Prophet. Montreal & Kingston/London/Ithaca: McGill-Quenn’s University Press.

  • Godard Jean-Luc. 1958. Bergmanorama. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 85 (July): 1-5.

  • Hoveyda Fereydoun. 1959. Le plus grand anneau de la spirale [The Largest Ring of the Spiral]. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 95 (May): 40-47.

  • Narboni Jean. 1967. Ingmar Bergman: Le festin de l’araignée [The Feast of Blood]. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 193 (September): 34-41.

  • Neyrat Cyril. 2007. Le dompteur de démons [The Tamer of Demons]. Cahiers du Cinéma. Hors-série: 11-13.

  • Rohmer Eric. 1956. Présentation d’Ingmar Bergman [Presentation of Ingmar Bergman]. Cahiers du Cinéma no. 61 (July): 7-9.

  • Steene Birgitta. 2005. Ingmar Bergman. A Reference Guide. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

  • Vineberg Steve. 2000. Persona and the Seduction of Performance. In Ingmar Bergman’s Persona ed. Lloyd Michaels 110-129. Cambridge/New York/ Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 338 116 8
PDF Downloads 199 106 14