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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Mar-18 > The female gaze

The female gaze

It wasn’t Ingmar Bergman who made stars of his women, but they who made him, says Francine Stock
Enduring collaborations: Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann in Persona
© GETTY IMAGES

“Today, as I lean over photographs of my childhood to study my mother’s face through a magnifying glass, I try to penetrate long vanished emotions.” Ingmar Bergman never hid the clues to understanding his art. The opening pages of the Swedish filmmaker’s 1987 memoir, The Magic Lantern, remind you of his close-up portrayals of women—the detail intimate, his gaze forensic. In his “doglike” devotion to his mother you can also see the seeds of his later—not uncomplicated—relationships with women. Bergman’s early work displays his teenage crushes—those strong nymphs in shorts manoeuvring rowboats through the Swedish archipelago—before he moved on to the wry mistresses and sad, wise wives. Finally, there are the magnified agonies of Persona (1966) or Autumn Sonata (1978), and the marital conflict in Scenes from a Marriage (1973) and Face to Face (1976).

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: A series of writers turn their thoughts to the developing war over words in the UK and the US. Lionel Shriver, Afua Hirsch, Simon Lancaster, Hugh Tomlinson, Tom Clark and two students ask if free expression is truly compromised? What’s really going on in our universities? And what do voters think? Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Ignatieff questions why today’s left-wing leaders can’t live up to the high mark set by FDR, Sameer Rahim shows how western powers have been trying to dictate what Islam should be, and Mary Beard asks “How do we look?” as our perceptions of what is beautiful have changes over the centuries.