Persona’s penis
in Ingmar Bergman

Using Lacanian psychoanalysis, Derridean deconstruction, and queer theory, this chapter explores the thematic ramifications of the three-frame shot of an erect penis in first few seconds of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. Ultimately arguing that the character of Elisabet, who rejects the false sincerity of speech for the productively duplicitous practice of writing, represents radical queer negativity, this study presents a new reading of Persona that celebrates its subversive power.

Few scholars, at least in English-language texts, have discussed the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot—three frames, literally an eighth of a second—of the male sex in Persona’s (1966) pre-credit sequence (Figure 12.1). The reason for at least some of the omissions seems clear: the image simply was not visible when many spectators initially encountered Bergman’s film. In a 1986 monograph, Frank Gado, having read about the image in Susan Sontag’s early essay,1 doubted its existence. He claimed he ‘cannot recall having seen any such image when […] attend[ing] the Swedish premiere of Persona or in two later viewings in Sweden’, or when he ‘examined the U.S. print on a viewer’.2 Others probably chose to ignore the image’s subsequent reappearance because they did not think it important—just another example of a censored moment in a Bergman film being restored, like The Virgin Spring’s (1960) rape or Anna’s anal penetration by the waiter in The Silence (1963).

Unlike those examples, the initial loss of the risible imagery in Persona hardly seems a damaging excision. The film can scarcely have suffered due to the absent footage, and at least some scholars have assumed that Persona’s offending shot was merely an example of Bergman’s many conscious provocations ‘against the Swedish censorship board on Bergman’s account’.3 Upon reflection, it is clearly a visual pun; the penis takes the place of the 6 in the countdown-leader-within-the-film, situated so that the scrotum takes the part of the squiggle while the shaft mirrors the upper half of the glyph’s stroke.

Adding to the sense that the image was a joke and yet simultaneously something more provocative, the following point should be considered: in Swedish, adopting the Latin, the word for six is ‘sex’. This is a homonym for the primary word in Swedish for coitus, and if the Swedish ‘sex’ (in its erotic/procreative meaning) does not quite metonymically extend to explicitly referencing the male sex organ, it certainly raises that bit of anatomy to the surface of most people’s consciousness. Admittedly, the image of the organ as a brief flash frame can almost seem a hallucination, a hallucination we might not want to admit we have had. Therefore, to borrow from Freud—the reader will soon see that this is a psychoanalytic study of Bergman’s film—we may well ask if sex is sometimes simply a six? Video technology coupled with a remote control and quick reflexes has showed us that it is not. Ultimately, by transmogrifying the countdown leader’s asexual 6 into the male’s sex, Persona anticipates second-wave feminist film critics’ key arguments by half a decade.

Sontag was surely the first Anglophone critic to mention Persona’s penis in writing, although she incorrectly claims that it appears after ‘the leader flashes by’, near the brief shot of the ‘chase scene from a slapstick silent film’, one of ‘a nail being hammered into the palm of a hand’, and those of ‘bodies in a morgue’.4 One should not ridicule the mistake of a critic without the luxury of home-video technology; but claiming that the penis appears after the countdown leader, Sontag’s error diminishes its importance. Sontag situates it within the prologue’s history of cinematic representation (penis as signifier of early pornography standing in relation to the crude animation, the silent slapstick, and, finally, modernist cinema) and the bits of ephemera signifying Bergman’s oeuvre (a spider in Through a Glass Darkly (1961), and the snow in Winter Light (1963)). In doing this, she misses the opportunity to connect the signifier of male sexuality to the meta-filmic imagery that concerns the basic ontology of cinema: the shutter, projector bulb, and countdown leader.

Most glibly, the image suggests that Bergman understands that his navel-gazing self-reflexivity (creating art fascinated with the meaning of art) is essentially a masturbatory state. More broadly, it posits that the cinematic apparatus gives us, or is primed to give us (since we are seeing a pre-ejaculative penis), a male emission, one both structurally patriarchal and corporeally impactful. It represents a certain structure of desire as being as essential to the language of the medium as mathematical formulas are to the science that makes cinematography (the film’s original title) possible. Beyond this, through the suggestiveness of the shot, Persona can be seen as interrogating the distinction, not simply between the usual litany of binary opposites seen as fundamental to Persona—face/mask, image/reflection, reality/film, self/other, objectivity/subjectivity—but that between two things not often thought of as binary opposites: the penis and the phallus.

After the publication of Sontag’s essay, with most prints in circulation having mysteriously lost this money shot, people could be forgiven for wondering if the American intellectual dreamed up an image now nowhere to be seen. Proving its existence, and its relationship to the broadest possible concerns of cinematic spectatorship, Hubert Cohen eventually offered a frame grab of it and compared it to the first shot in the film, one before even the faux countdown leader, one in which the glowing right electrode of a projector’s carbon arc bulb resembles ‘an erect penis as it emerges diagonally from the lower right’.5 In comparing that shot (really, two shots) of the source of cinematic illumination to the image of the male member, Cohen quotes Bruce Kawin, who, in a 1978 analysis, does not reference the penis but nevertheless considers the shot of the right electrode’s explosive connection to the left carbon rod a visual analogue for ‘intercourse’ (Figure 12.2).6 Cohen, then, with the penis as added evidence, posits the symbolization of ‘what Bergman sees as a key source of his creativity – aggression and sexual energy’.7 Like Sontag’s assessment, this fecund explanation, with due respect to Cohen, also ultimately misdirects us.

One important consideration many critics seem to have missed is that the shot of the penis is not, strictly speaking, a ‘motion picture’ image. As brief as the rest of the prologue’s shots may be (carbon arcs, slaughtered animals, piles of snow), and no matter how motionless the objects in them are, it is clear that they are motion picture images. The shot of the penis, on the other hand, is obviously one of a photograph of a penis. As such, the status of this doubly mediated image is different. Considered another way, it is the cinematographic equivalent of the word penis in quotation marks. This has both the effect of diminishing it—it is not really a flesh-and-blood penis—and emphasizing its status as a signifier: it has become the very image of symbolic authority. In short, it has become the phallus, and a very cinematically defined one at that. Furthermore, in its comparability with the two diegetic photographs we see in the film (the photo of Elisabet’s rejected son, the one Alma accuses Elisabet of wanting to have ‘born dead’, and the image of the Jewish boy in the ghetto) and, by extension, the moving but also doubly mediated image of the enflamed monk Elisabet sees on television, it also connects with trauma and the unbearable.8 All this serves as evidence for why this ‘gag image’ does not make one laugh: instead, we gag on it. Ultimately, the grainy photo can be seen as a representation of signification as such within the traumatic logic of the castration complex.

French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who married Freud’s model of the psyche to the field of semiotics and, essentially, replaced the penis with the phallus in his equations, has identified three forms of the phallus: the imaginary phallus, the symbolic phallus, and the real phallus. The real phallus essentially references the physical organ, the penis. Persona’s fraction-of-a-second image can hardly be said to be introducing that pound of flesh to the spectator. (How could it? The semiotic real always escapes our grasp.) What we see is on screen so briefly that it seems a figment of our imagination even when we do see it. That, and the fact that it is a cinematographic image of a photographic image (and one that replaces a six and rhymes with a carbon rod) seemingly consigns the image of sex it offers to the realms of the imaginary and symbolic.

Lacan’s second conception, the imaginary phallus, references that which is both evoked and invoked by the castration complex—itself a concept of violence with traumatic impact; it is the ‘image of the penis’ as a ‘partial […] object’, like the mother’s breast, or the child’s faeces, one implied by the ‘specular image’ of an imagined unified body.9 The imaginary phallus is, in Dylan Evans’ summation, ‘an imaginary object […] perceived by the child in the preoedipal phase as the object of the mother’s desire, as that which she desires beyond the child’. It is also that which ‘circulates between mother and child and serves to institute the first dialectic in the child’s life’.10 Understanding this, one of the implications of Persona’s penis becomes clear. Once we see the unnamed boy reaching towards the unstable maternal face at the end of the film’s prologue, a circulation of cinematic desire is evoked as a circulation of the phallus between mother and child (and by implication between cinematic apparatus and spectator) as that phallus both illustrates and invokes the castration complex. And yet, as Lacan puts it, ‘the [irregular] nature of the castration complex […] is the sole indication of […] jouissance’, or the self-shattering joy of the death drive, ‘in its infinitude’.11 Therefore, in a Lacanian reading of Persona, the lack of a diegetic, embodied bearer of the ‘real phallus’ (the boy is pre-pubescent, the husband metaphorically sterile) suggests that the shot of the penis is at once a cinematic literalization of castration—it is the cut, ‘unsutured’ penis—and the marker of the unconscious force field that constitutes (traumatic) cinematic representation. This penis connects cinematic representation to negativity and death.

In its final, symbolic formation, the Lacanian phallus rears its head most decisively. Being in the faux countdown leader, Persona’s penis also proclaims its function symbolically, considering the over-determination of numbers in relation to words in relation to images. What seems to be real, then seems to be imaginary, finally becomes symbolic. As Lacan posits,

the [symbolic] phallus is not a fantasy […]. Still less is it the organ […] that it symbolizes. […] For it is a signifier [….] destined to designate meaning effects as a whole, insofar as the signifier conditions them by its presence as signifier.12

This is not just a specific definition of a specific register of the phallus; it is also a compelling description of the way Persona works. Persona is a text in which its meta-cinematically articulated signification-as-such is fundamental to the meanings we take from it, and it is with Lacan’s formulation in mind that the phantom phallus connects with Persona’s basic narrative: the performer who refuses to speak.

To explain, Lacan helps us again: ‘It is not man’s relationship to language as a social phenomenon that is at issue, nor even anything […] that derisively goes by the name of affect.’ We must find, or ‘refind […] effects that are discovered at the level of the chain of materially unstable elements that constitute language.’ They ‘are determinant in instituting the subject’. For Lacan,

[the] passion of the signifier thus becomes a new dimension of the human condition in that it is not only man who speaks, but in man and through man that it speaks; in that his nature becomes woven by effects in which the structure of the language of which he becomes the material can be refound.13

It is towards this vertiginous understanding of consciousness-as-alienation that, in the film, Elisabet’s doctor alludes when she diagnoses her patient in a spellbinding monologue:

The hopeless dream of being. Not doing, but being […] The feeling of dizziness […]. Every tone of voice a lie, an act of treason. Every gesture false. Every smile a grimace. […] Kill yourself? No – too nasty, not to be done. But you could be immobile. You can keep quiet. Then at least you’re not lying.14

I say ‘towards this understanding’ because it seems clear that Elisabet’s crisis is tied to duplicity within language, Lacan’s ‘language as a social phenomenon’, rather than to signification per se.

And yet, this level of localized lying (Elisabet in her social world), that which Marilyn Johns Fisher and Robin Wood have looked at in feminist and queer terms, ultimately stands for what Lacan describes.15 It can be seen as a metaphor for the form of alienation always-already within language itself that Lacan charts and that a number of feminists, in the years almost immediately after Persona’s release, dreamed of overcoming. In an oft-cited essay, dating from the year she fully embraced lesbianism, Adrianne Rich mourns that which ‘is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language’.16 And if Persona’s Elisabet struggles against lying in language and by extension language as lying, the film in which she finds herself, like all films, threatens to perpetuate the lies despite its co-protagonist’s vow of silence. However, through Bergman’s deconstructive authorial voice, we witness the collapse of meaning precisely through the ‘inadequate and lying language’ of the cinema. Many critics have, of course, sensed these essential paradoxes within Bergman’s film.

Robin Wood, in his second, more radical assessment of the film, blames Bergman for the failure of nerve represented by a film that seemed to him, in its first scenes between Elisabet and Alma in the beach house, to be moving towards a radical feminist/lesbian union between its two protagonists, only to develop into one that sees their increasing closeness homophobically.17 To put it the way B. Ruby Rich did when comparing Persona unfavourably to Leontine Sagan’s Mädchen in Uniform (1931), ‘the loss of individual identity is a threat that haunts women’s intimacy like a destructive specter: getting too close to another woman’, ultimately, ‘means losing oneself’.18 Put simply, the self/other distinction is anchored to sexual difference; without it, according to heteronormative logic, chaos reigns in intimate relationships. This explains, for the homophobe, why same-sex unions are inherently unstable. Heterosexuality is not just written according to the structures of dualism, it is written according to the structures of dualism as anchored by the phallus. Elisabet, in a basic queer/feminist reading of the film, is attempting to move beyond an insufficient and lying language, but she is doing it through a protest made in the terms of language (since even silence is a component of speech). Similarly, Bergman, in trying to move beyond the insufficient language of classical cinema, is still, in the end, using the master’s tools to tear down the master’s house. As American critic Pauline Kael put it, Persona ‘had begun to involve us in marvelous possibilities’ (perhaps lesbian possibilities?) but Bergman ‘throws [it] away’.19 Alma becomes so attracted to her patient that she is driven mad. There can be no Sapphic happy ending.

This is, of course, a rather reductive reading of the film. Bergman did only flirt with homosexual desire in his filmmaking, despite the fact that so many of his most interesting characters were queer. But it is important to realize, according to Bergman’s own admission, that it is Elisabet who should be seen as the film’s queer protagonist, not the increasingly deranged Alma.20 Elisabet offers her radical silence to Alma. Her love does not speak its name, while Alma, who tries to pull her patient back into spoken language, back to normalcy, never stops talking. The closest we get to a ‘lesbian moment’ in the film, one inevitably cited whenever the film is argued to be a queer classic, is a wordless one: Elisabet brushing Alma’s hair out of her face in the middle of the night. But why, exactly, is it that Elisabet should be seen as the force of queer destabilization? One thing that is not mentioned often enough is the fact that although Elisabet does stop speaking, she nevertheless communicates throughout the film, via affect, action, and, most obviously, the infernal letter she writes to her doctor.

One of Jacques Derrida’s key insights involves a system of so-called ‘violent hierarchies’ in Western thought. One of the most compelling of these hierarchies, for our inquiry here, is the one between speech and writing. According to Derrida, ‘[t]he priority’, in European philosophical traditions,

of spoken language over written or silent language stems from the fact that when words are spoken the speaker and the listener are supposed to be simultaneously present to one another; they are supposed to be the same, pure unmediated presence. […] Writing, on the other hand, is considered subversive in so far as it creates a […] distance between the author and the audience; writing presupposes the absence of the author and so we can never be sure exactly what is meant by a written text; it can have many different meanings as opposed to a single unifying one.21

From this perspective, noting that Elisabet has only given up spoken language, one must consider a distinction: between her rejection of phonocentrism (and false transparency) and her continuing engagement with a destabilizing practice of inscription. If Elisabet has given up the sincerity of speech but not other, potentially duplicitous forms of communication, with what does that align her? I would posit that it places her in the position of the queer subject as defined in a major strand of queer theory advocated by Leo Bersani and Lee Edelman.22 The latter, developing Derrida, argues that the homosexual, in the homophobic mind, takes on the position of the subversive subject who writes.23 This threateningly duplicitous subject is explicitly contrasted to the seemingly sincere subject who speaks, whose self-presence is assured through false phonocentric values.

In some ways, the curious lack of academic attention to Elisabet’s continuing communication—becoming increasingly more communicative throughout the film even as she maintains her refusal to speak—is a more peculiar omission than the ignored penis. The ramifications of Elisabet as a writing subject, in short (as Derrida and Edelman would argue), an ‘untrustworthy’ queer subject, may seem counterintuitive when reading Persona as a film about lesbianism. It is chatty Alma who seems to be in the thrall of a same-sex passion, not Elisabet, who watches her smitten caregiver from a position of bemused attachment. But despite the mini-orgy on the beach that Alma recounts, Alma in her sincerity and helpfulness must be seen as a future-orientated good citizen. She can be seen as a straight woman with something like a ‘schoolgirl crush’ on a famous actress. She might have bisexual urges; but unlike Elisabet, Alma is not an example of the kind of radical queer Edelman talks about when he—developing his theories beyond Derrida and towards Lacan—defines the ‘sinthomosexual’.24

For Edelman, sinthomosexuality is a neologism that places homosexuality in relation to jouissance and the death drive; it is an unsettling, antisocial position that has been invoked by the heteronormative order to demonize the queer subject, but it can also be embraced as a position of radical power. The sinthomosexual refuses good citizenship and what Edelman calls reproductive futurity. Edelman performatively embodies this subject when he writes,

[f]uck the social order and the Child in whose name we’re collectively terrorized: fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Mis; fuck the poor, innocent kid on the Net; fuck Laws both with capital ls and with small; fuck the whole network of Symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop.25

This is the queer apotheosis of the concept of radical negativity as Nietzsche and Adorno defined it long ago. Hamish Ford, adapting their definitions of negativity, has productively explored Persona. For him,

[f]ollowing on from its material enactment in the prologue, negativity has in Elisabet’s silence a human instigator, forcing itself into the field of social reality. […] As Elisabet’s negative subjectivity generates increasingly infectious power during the film, it is more than the troubled artist figure who stares down a very immanent crisis. […] Through the interactions with Elisabet, [Alma] seems to become ‘infected’ with her patient’s condition to the point where her own existential certainty is undermined.26

In other words, Elisabet’s negativity, more specifically, her queer negativity has the power to contest everything Alma values: marriage, child-rearing, good citizenship. That negativity rubs off onto Alma, spectacularly, but she cannot handle it.

Elisabet’s queer negativity, her sinthomosexuality, explains much more than her simple unwillingness to speak. Elisabet has rejected motherhood, marriage, and the role of a well-rewarded performer in the phallogocentric social order. Looked at this way, with Elisabet exemplifying radical queerness in contrast to the smitten if culturally conservative and future-oriented Alma, the plot developments that Robin Wood and B. Ruby Rich might have hoped for—two women falling in love, becoming lesbians, and buying their own seaside cottage—is, at best, a red herring. That would be what Lisa Duggan calls homonormativity: the good, coupled gay citizens taking their part in the social order.27

The radical negativity personified by Elisabet not only destabilizes Alma, it destabilizes the film in which both appear. This brings us back to Persona’s penis as well as to the film’s phallic moorings and unmoorings. It is often said that the film’s implied spectator is the boy seen in the prologue, looking up at a screen, at an image of a woman’s head that also suggests Lacan’s theory of the mirror phase and the cinematic fascination that is explained by it. But if a pre-pubescent male subject guides real spectators (us) into the film, it is one who is nevertheless doing so under the sign of the phallus, a phallus that, in its imaginary form, is circulating between himself and the maternal/anti-maternal protagonist(s) of the film. In other words, the film’s phallus, visible or cloaked in darkness, is not a marker of a film’s radical departure from normative logic. Rather, it stands as the normative starting point for the inevitable but perhaps productive breakdown that occurs when it vanishes. Persona’s invocation of the phallus, followed as it is by many more signifiers of its contested but palpable authority (from phallic female doctor to blind husband) allows the film to be destabilized by radical lesbian negativity.

On the other hand, the evocation of the material penis by the same shot suggests something else. It implies that the evocation of same-sex eroticism in this specific film, if not in general, is a manifestation of male sexual desire (Bergman’s). This raises the too-easily-dismissed spectre of lesbian sexuality as a turn-on for heterosexual men, but it can also, uncannily enough, deliver to us the possibilities of male homosexuality: same-sex sexuality is same-sex sexuality; desire for seeing one’s likeness with the same is a desire for what Bersani calls ‘homoness’, a state promising radical non-violence and ethical engagement. Male homosexuality, of course, will be most directly expressed, in equally unstable terms, two years after Persona’s premiere, in Hour of the Wolf (1968). But Persona uses the penis not simply as an image of masculinity engorged by male desire, but as both a point of departure and an explanation for the necessary destabilization that comes after its appearance and disappearance. It is the film’s disorganizing principle.

One can think of the spiralling-out-of-control that comes late in the film as disallowing the full development of homosexual desire, but only in the most reductively literal way. The queer unravelling that does take place makes a permanent Alma/Elisabet union impossible; but I think it is wrong-headed for us to assume that the takeaway is that these two characters simply go back to their previous, heterosexual lives, shaken but not stirred. They return to their careers, but they have doubtlessly been profoundly changed. The final image of Alma looking into the mirror, seeing not just herself but the possibility of herself with Elisabet, suggests that she has taken something of her patient’s queer quietus with her. The film may have concluded negatively, but that is not to say that Bergman gave us an unhappy ending. Its queerness abides.

Acknowledgements

I want to thank the participants at the conference ‘Ingmar Bergman: 100 Years’ for their helpful responses to the original version of this chapter. It was truly a career highlight to finally meet so many of my academic heroes in Bergman Studies and hear their new work, all in the space of a few too-short days at the University of Lund. Special thanks go to Linda Haverty Rugg, Jan Holmberg, and, of course, the estimable organizer of the conference, Erik Hedling. I am also grateful for the help of John Kirk, formerly of MGM Studios, who provided me with more information on the present and absent penis in Persona’s various film elements than I was able, finally, to take into account, as well as Magnus Rosborn and Jon Wengström at the Swedish Film Institute who, fortunately, cleared up some errors I was about to make in this study in the last instant. Finally, let me thank Hamish Ford for his carefully thought through comments on the original draft of this work.

1 Susan Sontag, ‘Bergman’s Persona’ (1967), in Lloyd Michaels (ed.), Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 62–85.
2 Frank Gado, The Passion of Ingmar Bergman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1986), p. 327n.
3 Erik Hedling, Professor of Film Studies, Lund University, personal email, 2 September 2017.
4 Sontag, ‘Bergman’s Persona’, p. 74.
5 Hubert I. Cohen, Ingmar Bergman: The Art of Confession (New York: Twayne, 1993), p. 229.
6 Bruce F. Kawin, Mindscreen: Bergman, Godard and First-Person Film (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 106.
7 Cohen, Ingmar Bergman, p. 229.
8 Hamish Ford has pointed out that as a chronologically presented succession—erect penis + Elisabet’s son + captured boy in the Warsaw Ghetto—the three photographic images connect sex to death, particularly in light of the fact that Elisabet is accused by Alma of having wanted her son to be born dead. Email exchange, 30 August 2018. As we shall see, this interpretation—sex for Elisabet leading not to renewed life but to a child she wants to have ‘born dead’, in Alma’s disturbing accusation—rubs up against a kind of Thanatos-as-Eros that places it squarely in the realm of the most challenging forms of queer negativity.
9 Jacques Lacan, Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English, translated by Bruce Fink (New York: Norton, 2007), pp. 696, 693, 697 respectively. For Lacan, of course, the whole register of the ‘imaginary realm’ is characterized by the visual, even if ultimately it is structured by the symbolic realm. The imaginary is the seen yet unseen.
10 Dylan Evans, An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis (London: Routledge, 1996), p. 142.
11 Lacan, Écrits, p. 696, emphasis added.
12 Lacan, Écrits, p. 579, emphases added.
13 Lacan, Écrits, p. 578, emphases added.
14 Ingmar Bergman, ‘Persona’, in Persona and Shame: The Screenplays of Ingmar Bergman, translated by Keith Bradfield (London: Calder & Boyars, 1972), pp. 17–101 (p. 41), emphasis is original.
15 Marilyn Johns Blackwell, ‘Persona: The Deconstruction of Binarism and the False Mergence of Spectator and Spectacle’, in Gender and Representation in the Films of Ingmar Bergman (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 1997), pp. 133–164; Robin Wood, ‘Persona Revisited’, in Ingmar Bergman: New Edition (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2013), pp. 252–274.
16 Adrienne Rich, ‘“It Is the Lesbian within Us . . .”’ (1976), in On Lies, Secrets, and Silence Selected Prose 1966–1978 (New York: Norton, 1979), pp. 199–202 (p. 199).
17 Wood, ‘Persona Revisited’. His original analysis of the film can be found in ‘The World Without, The World Within’, also in his Ingmar Bergman: New Edition, pp. 186–238.
18 B. Ruby Rich, ‘From Repressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation: Mädchen in Uniform’, in Corey K. Creekmur and Alexander Doty (eds), Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays of Popular Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), pp. 137–166 (p. 149).
19 Pauline Kael, ‘Swedish Summer’ (1967), a review of Persona, in Lloyd Michaels (ed.), Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 169–171 (p. 170).
20 Bergman mentions Elisabet, along with Aman in The Magician (1958), Ester in The Silence, Tomas in Face to Face (1976), and Ismael in Fanny and Alexander (1982) (and, contextually, Johan in Hour of the Wolf (1968)) as representing a single (clearly queer) thematic for him. Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film, translated by Marianne Ruuth (New York: Arcade, 1994), pp. 28–29. I have previously discussed Bergman’s comments here in my own work: Daniel Humphrey, Queer Bergman: Sexuality, Gender, and the European Art Cinema (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2013), p. 15.
21 Jacques Derrida, ‘Dialogue with Jacques Derrida’, in Richard Kearney (ed.), Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers: The Phenomenological Heritage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 105–126 (pp. 115–116), emphasis added.
22 See Leo Bersani, Homos (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995) and Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).
23 Lee Edelman, ‘Homographesis’, in Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory (New York: Routledge: 1994), pp. 3–23.
24 See Edelman, No Future, especially chapter 2: ‘Sinthomosexuality’, pp. 33–66.
25 See Edelman, No Future, p. 29.
26 Hamish Ford, Post-War Modernist Cinema and Philosophy: Confronting Negativity and Time (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 36, 37.
27 See Lisa Duggan, ‘The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism’, in Russ Castronovo and Dana D. Nelson (eds), Materializing Democracy: Toward a Revitalized Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 175–194.

Ingmar Bergman

An enduring legacy

Editor: Erik Hedling

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