Ingmar Bergman: Five Impactful Books to Read on His Birthday

Throughout his life, Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Berman created over sixty films and composed over one hundred books and articles. Here are five books by Bergman to read on his birthday!

Book Culture Classics Literary Fiction Memoirs & Biographies On This Day Recommendations

Today, July 14th, is the birthday of Swedish director, author, and producer Ingmar Bergman. Over the course of his life, Bergman wrote/directed over sixty films and penned over one hundred articles and books. Some of his most successful films include Scenes from a Marriage, Fanny and Alexander, The Seventh Seal, and Autumn Sonata. Central themes of Bergman’s works include “dysfunctional families, blood-sucking failing artists, and an absent Almighty.” Bergman was heavily influenced by the talents of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg, and Molière. He passed away on July 30th, 2007.



Here are five of Bergman’s most significant books to read on what would’ve been his 103rd birthday!




The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography

In addition to learning about Ingmar Bergman’s time in “Hollywood’s golden age,” readers will get a glimpse of Bergman growing up in rural Sweden, his experiences working in theater, and his complicated romantic life. Bergman not only reflects on important moments relating to filmmaking during the twentieth century, he also reveals his own private thoughts from that period. The Magic Lantern exposes Berman’s “lifelong” love for filmmaking in an intimate, profound, and inspirational manner.




Images: My Life in Film

Although this work is another autobiography, Berman focuses more on his forty-year career as a filmmaker over his private life. He utilizes scripts, notebooks, and his own memory to provide readers with an honest insight into his thought processes relating to his films. He reflects on his successes and losses, the themes at the core of his films, his ever-changing emotions, and “the relationship between his life and art.”




Autumn Sonata

In this screenplay, Bergman provides an account of a young woman’s destructible rage that soon leads to a “devastating” confrontation with her mother, exposing the extent of their unhealthy, “emotionally-charged” relationship.




Sunday’s Children: A Novel

Pu Bergman is known as a “Sunday’s child,” someone believed to possess “special gifts,” including “sensitivity, clairvoyance, and the ability to see ghosts.” At the start of the story, Pu is filled with nerves and excitement as he ventures to the train station to meet his father. When his father does arrive, his mood is severe, distant, and depressing. Over the following twenty-four hours, Pu’s life is changed forever. He is exposed to death and the realities of aging, is terrorized and humiliated by his older brother, ponders over the ghost stories he hears, and observes the heart-wrenching arguments among his parents. Humanity’s understanding of “the relationship between man and boy” is “enriched” as author Ingmar Bergman pays a visit to his own ill, dying father, which brings his emotional, unforgettable novel “full circle.”




The Best Intentions: A Novel

In this love story based on Bergman’s own parents, the complex nature of love is explored and exposed in the novel’s two main characters: Henrik and Anna. Henrik is a “struggling” and “somber” student, while the “pampered” Anna belongs to a bourgeois family. Anna’s mother Karin is completely unsupportive of her daughter’s marriage to Henrik; she will do whatever she must to prevent them from marrying and is resolved to then break the couple up. Despite these harsh plans, Karin’s motivations are actually founded on good intentions. She’s not the only one; all of Bergman’s characters in the novel have good intentions, even though it often seems they carry out their actions in the wrong ways. Bergman weaves in elements of theater, cinematic dialogue, and filmmaking to produce an honest, emotional, and gripping novel dedicated to examining the timeless phenomenon known as “abiding love.”


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