I bought this book as a gift for my partner. His review follows below...
In his works Bergman held up a mirror, not so much up to nature but to human existence, reflecting its folly, hopes and ultimate futility. In reflecting relationships, doubts, disillusion he has no equal in his cinematic masterpieces. He is mainly known for his films, and there is surely no director from whom so many stills are instantly recognisable: Professor Borg looking into the cradle where his own infant self lies; the two sisters and the child in the stifling railway carriage and most iconic of all the knight playing chess with death against a background of a lowering ominous sky.
Yet Bergman was much more than a film director: writer, stage director, novelist, script writer and producer so this exhaustive book is essential for anyone either wishing to know more about the films and for those aficionados (surely too weak a word for his devoted admirers) for whom Bergman and his oeuvre are some of the greatest by a twentieth century artist
Bergman was a man of immense energy and industry and anyone looking at this book cannot be unaware that the huge effort involved in producing it matches that of the Master who is its subject.
So often with books of this nature, that seek to be an all encompassing compendium of an artist's output, confusion about what information is where can lead to frustrations as one tries to cross reference from one section to another. No such problem arises here as the complex information presented is a model of clarity and lucidity. Exhaustive cast lists and reviews, including foreign reviews, contemporary opinions (The Silence almost didn't pass the censor and changed the criteria by which films should be judged) radio scripts, stage production; all is laid out clearly. Not only that, but there are pointers to places where the reader can follow up collateral information that has a bearing on the work of Bergman.
Within an hour of receiving this book as a present there were numerous `post-it' notes sticking out from the pages as I sought to pin point where a particular piece of information was. I had no need. It's not often that one can find information in a book of this complexity without even having to look at the index, but such is the case here. At this point I set myself the task of finding information about Bergman's 2000 stage production of Ghosts: without using the index it took me approximately six seconds.
Ingmar Bergman was born on July 14th 1918, surely a year that resonates not only through European but world history signifying as it does rebellion and protest. In 1918 that date fell on a Sunday and according to Swedish folklore, those born on that day are gifted (cursed perhaps?) with second sight. A rebellious seer is an apt description of this genius. In his review of Bergman's novel Söndagsbarn, John McGahern of the New York Times quotes Chekhov's definition of writers and artists, "they have one important trait in common: they are going somewhere and call you with them...
If you purchase this book you will be led and guided into the mind and genius of one of the 20th century's greatest artists.