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Brattemo, C. (1990). Reality Transformed to Dream: Some Comments on Ingmar Bergman's Film Cries and Whispers and the Collapse of Language. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 13(1):47-61.

(1990). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 13(1):47-61

Reality Transformed to Dream: Some Comments on Ingmar Bergman's Film Cries and Whispers and the Collapse of Language

Carl-Erik Brattemo

In his autobiographical essay, Laterna Magica, Ingmar Bergman (1988) relates that the film Cries and Whispers is one of the few in which he has been able to oscillate freely between dream and reality and reach the ideal: “The dreams should become tangible reality. Reality should dissolve and be transformed to dream.”

The form of a film and its content can be thought of as a result of a conflict in its creator between that which will be expressed and that which does not allow it to be voiced. The impact of a film on the spectator depends on whether or not similar processes are taking place in his mind. In the night-dream, latent dream-thoughts are manifested, in distorted ways, in the manifest dream. In a similar way, a film, in its manifest form, contains latent contents, “which changes character depending on the soul in which the film is reflected”, writes Mikael Enckell (1962) in one of his early essays.

It is a fascinating idea that, to put it bluntly, a film as a product might be the result of it being dreamt by its creator, and the meaning of it, a result of it being dreamt by its spectator. That, maybe, the experience of a film, the interpretation of its “message”, is dependent on the correspondence between creator and spectator as to the constellation of drives and the content of conflicts. Still more so in a film in which Bergman, its author and director, tries to move freely between dream and reality and succeeds in the intent.

In

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