Thursday, January 25, 2018

Michael Tapper

Michael Tapper is the author of Ingmar Bergman’s Face to Face.

From Tapper's interview at the Columbia University Press website:

Q: What are the main discoveries about Bergman in the book?

Besides his image makeover it could be summarized in a few words as: TV, Henrik Ibsen, primal therapy and politics. He did not choose TV just out of financial necessity when the film industry faced a severe crisis, he actually loved the new medium and longed to explore it as an artist. It was technically primitive, which suited the austere style with little scenery he had perfected in the late 1960s.

Much has been written about Bergman’s artistic relationship with August Strindberg, but in the 1960s and 70s Henrik Ibsen became an important source of inspiration. Bergman staged several of Ibsen’s most important and influential plays, and updated both Ibsen’s themes and modernist strategies in his TV productions. The most obvious case is Scenes from a Marriage, in which Ibsen’s A Doll House is explicitly referenced.

For anyone who lived through the 1970s, the cultural impact of Arthur Janov’s primal therapy is unforgettable and Bergman was one of many who were spellbound. He not only read Janov’s then-bestselling books and let the famous psychiatrist’s ideas flow into the work on Face to Face, working title: “The Psychiatrist”, he also contacted Janov and met with him at the Primal Center in Santa Monica. There were even talks about them working on a film project together, but the tax-evasion scandal in April 1976 put a stop to these plans.

Politics was also central to Bergman’s work in this period, although no scholar has really touched on the subject. Frequently, texts on Bergman imply that he was an opponent to the social democratic politics that shaped post-war Sweden. In fact, the opposite is true. He was a fervent supporter of the social democratic party, considered himself to be a socialist and even contemplated going into politics in the early 1970s. This can be supported by several interviews.

More complicated was his relationship with feminism. He considered himself as feminist and was convinced that he had more feminine than masculine sensibilities, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue