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A Magic Lantern


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About the Author

Ingmar Bergman is a Swedish filmmaker who has written and directed over fifty films. He is the recipient of three Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, for The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny and Alexander. Joan Tate (1922 - 2000) was a prolific translator of Swedish works into English.


Bergman's magic lantern (representing both memory and a toy cinematograph he obtained as a child) swings backward and forward between his early life in Lutheran parsonages and his experiences as an internationally renowned director of films, plays and operas. Ignoring strict chronology, it explores his relations with his parents and older brother, his introduction to the theater, his successes and failures, and his decision (after Fanny and Alexander ) to stop making films. Bergman, having always suffered from a nervous stomach and chronic insomnia, also candidly acknowledges his weaknesses and fears, frightening dreams and bouts of temper, his infatuation with Hitler and Nazism during the 1930s and his obsession with sex, as well as the special, sensual happiness in being a film director. A reader's disappointment over the paltry detail and characterization of Bergman's wives, children and loversand of his filmsis somewhat dissipated by the inclusion of numerous anecdotes about Chaplin, Garbo, Karajan, Olivier and especially Ingrid Bergman, who continued to work on Autumn Sonata while she was dying, and by occasional judgments about fellow practitioners (for example, that Soviet film director Tarkovsky is ``the greatest of them all''). Photos not seen by PW. 40,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo; first serial to American Film. (September)

As a filmmaker, Bergman stands alone among postwar artists in his relentless dissection of the human soul's dark side. The Seventh Seal , Persona , and Shame are but a few of his long string of masterworks. This autobiography, although naturally of great interest, proffers a mixed blessing. The volume's brevity is disappointing, as is, at least for film fans, the author's extensive descriptions of his theater work. What Bergman does relate, particularly his tangled relationships with his parents, is not only illuminating but quite moving. No ``tell-all'' book this one, but revealing in ways that much longer and allegedly ``franker'' books are not.Thomas Wiener, formerly of ``American Film,'' Washington, D.C.

"Bergman's minute recall is essentially, astonishingly, visual. Description after description stamp out scenes from his films. The man, his memory, his work are one.... It is wonderfully liberating to be made privy to the tangible relish in his craft.... The Magic Lantern is no conventional autobiography, more a scalding stream of consciousness from the pen of a licentious puritan." - New York Review of Books "[Bergman] has found a way to show the soul's landscape.... Many gripping revelations." - New York Times Book Review "Joan Tate's translation of this book has delicacy and true pitch.... The Magic Lantern is as personal and penetrating as a Bergman film, wry, shadowy, austere." - New Republic "[Bergman] keeps returning to his past, reassessing it, distilling its meaning, offering it to his audiences in dazzling new shapes." - New York Times "What Bergman does relate, particularly his tangled relationships with his parents, is not only illuminating but quite moving. No 'tell-all' book this one, but revealing in ways that much longer and allegedly 'franker' books are not." - Library Journal"

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