Writings, 1972

Essential and nonessential

Bergman's preface to the screenplay of Cries and Whispers.

.... ever since my childhood, I have pictured the inside of the soul as a moist membrane in shades of red.
Ingmar Bergman

About the text

As with so many of Bergman’s prefaces to his film manuscripts, this introduction begins with an address to the crew: ’My dear friends! We’re going to make a film together.’

Extract from the text:

There is a peculiarity about it, however: all our interiors are red, of various shades. Don’t ask me why it must be so, because I don’t know. I have puzzled over this myself and each explanation has seemed more comical than the last. The bluntest but also the most valid is probably that the whole thing is something internal and that ever since my childhood I have pictured the inside of the soul as a moist membrane in shades of red.

Furniture, props, and other paraphernalia must be very exact, but we must be able to use them capriciously and just as they suit our purpose. But everything must be beautiful and harmonious. It must be the way it is in a dream: a thing is there because we desire it or need it, just for the moment.

Bergman goes on to introduce the four main characters.

About Agnes: 'At the age of thirty-seven she has cancer of the womb and is preparing to make her exit from the world as quietly and submissively as she has lived in it.'

About Karin: 'In the midst of this tumult of bridled fury, she bears a gift for affection, devotion, and a longing for nearness. This large capital lies immovably shut in and unused.'

About Maria: 'Her only law is to please.'

About Anna: 'Anna is very taciturn, very shy, unapproachable. But she is ever-present – watching, prying, listening. Everything about Anna is weight. Her body, her face, her mouth, the expression of her eyes. But she doesn’t speak; perhaps she doesn’t think, either.'