The aim of this dissertation is to discuss and exemplify the use of theatre and theatricality in the film aesthetics of Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). The main primary material of the study consists of a selection of Bergman’s films: the nine commercials made for Bris soap (1951-1953) and the feature films Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Magician (1958), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), The Silence (1963), Persona (1966), The Ritual (1969), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Fanny and Alexander (1983) and Saraband (2003). The dissertation also includes several other examples from Bergman’s rich intermedial oeuvre, and features theatre, film, radio and television productions. The interart approach is also applied on material from the Ingmar Bergman archives and to the author’s unique interviews that were carried out with Bergman in the fall of 2004 (some of his last interviews).
After an introduction in the first chapter, the second chapter discusses the history, aesthetics and terminology of theatricality. The term has accumulated an extraordinary variety of meanings, making it denote everything from an act to excess in the broadest possible sense, from a style to a semiotic system and from a medium to a message. In this dissertation theatricality is seen as a reference to a performance that is directed outwards; an act of showing, which reveals the relationship between the medium and the observer. A prerequisite for this is that the object is manifested with a parallel consciousness of the observer’s gaze, which is used as a part of the staging, thereby involving the observer in the work while making her realize that the author is aware of her gaze. This self-consciousness is illustrated in the three following analytical chapters.
The third chapter looks at the depiction and use of space, framing and long shot-composition, reveries, character entrances, movement and tracking shots in Bergman’s films.
The main foci of the fourth chapter are masks and Bergman’s famous close-ups, where the emphasis lies on the importance of the actor. In scenes where Bergman lets the actor face and speak directly into the camera, theatricality is characterized by oscillation; that is, it forms an act of showing that breaks the cinematic illusion, while simultaneously involving the observer in the film. The chapter also examines the use of photographs in Bergman’s films.
The fifth chapter focuses on some of the meta-aspects created by Bergman’s theatrical film aesthetics, for instance when the characters in the films visit theatres. The chapter also analyzes the play-within-the play structure of Bergman’s works and the "indirect" address from Bergman in his films, which is accomplished through the intervention of his voice and cameo appearances.
The sixth and last chapter of this dissertation consists of a brief summary and conclusions on the subject of cinematic style that show how ideas concerning theatricality have been a part of Ingmar Bergman’s film art.