The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography

The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography

by Ingmar Bergman


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“When a film is not a document, it is a dream. . . . At the editing table, when I run the strip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood.” Bergman, who has conveyed this heady sense of wonder and vision to moviegoers for decades, traces his lifelong love affair with film in his breathtakingly visual autobiography, The Magic Lantern.

More grand mosaic than linear account, Bergman’s vignettes trace his life from a rural Swedish childhood through his work in theater to Hollywood’s golden age, and a tumultuous romantic history that includes five wives and more than a few mistresses. Throughout, Bergman recounts his life in a series of deeply personal flashbacks that document some of the most important moments in twentieth-century filmmaking as well as the private obsessions of the man behind them. Ambitious in scope yet sensitively wrought, The Magic Lantern is a window to the mind of one of our era’s great geniuses.

“[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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780517063019
Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/26/1990
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

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.

Table of Contents

The Magic Lantern 
Ingmar Bergman: A Chronology by Peter Cowie

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The Magic Lantern 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
vpfluke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, an autobiography of the great Swedish movie maker, Ingmar Brgman, was read in our Enneagram Meet-up group in New York City. Many did not find Bergman to be a very likable person even though may have liked his films. His great focus on his career led to many disappointments and disconnections in his family and love relations. His multiple marriages meant that he barely knew his children. Bergman is considered to be a Type 4 on the range of Enneagram personality types, very much of an Individualist, who gets drawn into ones self. But they can be great revealers of the forces that shape our lives and destinies as he was able to play them out in his theater production and his movies.