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Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXXIV (2010)

Bergman and the Film Image


he power of lm to convey the emotions of characters is most obvious, and most theorized, in the use of close-ups of the face. But movies have many ways to communicate emotions and emotion-related states of mind. A characters speech is one, used to celebrated effect by Ingmar Bergman in a number of lms. Here I examine two instances where Bergmans very salient intervention in the visible form of the image illuminates the mind of a character. Understanding these interventions, and in particular the differences between them, will require us to explore the pictorial resources of lm in some depth. Along the way Ill suggest that cinema works partly by co-opting the mind of the viewer into its representational system. 1. A MAN COLLAPSES Having parted angrily from Anna Fromm (Liv Ullmann), Andreas Winkelman (Max von Sydow) is seen in long shot, anxiously walking back and forth. The shot slowly closes on Andreas as his path to each turn shortens, the grain of the image becoming more evident, and the detail of the scene correspondingly less visible. He collapses as the picture degrades to the point where he is no longer distinguishable from his surroundings.1 His collapse is, in a familiar way, expressive of his mental state: like a smile or a dejected posture, it is something we see both as
1. Bergman apparently did not zoom in to create the effect, but blew up the shot.

2010 Copyright the Author. Journal compilation 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 323


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the product of an emotional state and as revelatory of its character.2 Since this is a piece of ctionBergmans 1969 lm A Passionthere is in reality no such mental state as Andreas seems to possess, and so no question of this state causing anything. But it is part of the ction that it exists, and within the imaginative project authorized by the lm it is more or less automatic that we will see the collapse as thus expressive. The graininess of the image is also, I say, expressive of Andreas mental state. How expressive? It is not caused by the (once again, nonexistent) mental state and nor is it ctional that it is so caused; its not part of the lms story that there is someone lming the collapse, with the lming process mysteriously connected to Andreas mental state. But the dissolution of the image is something we are invited to see as an analog, in representation, of the relation between mental state and behavior. The image presents Andreas and his collapse; and seeing the collapse as the outcome of his mental state, we are aware of him as ceasing to function as a rational agent. Under the pressure of intense emotion he can no longer respond to or think coherently about his situation. As the lm image becomes more grainy it is less and less able to function as a depictionto function, that is, as a pictorial representationfor the increased graininess makes it progressively more difcult, and eventually impossible, for us to see Andreas in the picture.3 The fate of the depiction parallels and underlines that of the person depicted. Its expressive impact is inherited from the expressive relation it mirrors. In being thus expressive, the image deviates from a principle Ill call Depictive Fullness. According to this principle, every part of a lm image depicts something objective; everything we see when we see the screen depicts something, and the something depicted is a part of the objective world. The principle is occasionally violated, as it is in this shot. But violations are very rare, and when they occur this is not because something other than the objective world is being depicted; they occur because some part of the image is failing to depict anything. To see how rare these shots are, we need to look at cases where it is tempting but wrong to say that the principle is violated. That will occupy a good deal of this essay. We return nally to A Passion, at which point I will compare the shot just described, which occurs at the end of the lm, with one from the beginning. Though my focus here is on two brief moments from the lm, we cannot ignore their larger narrative context, for the communicative power of an individual shot depends on its relation to the whole.4 The nal shot is easier to make sense of in this regard, because it comes at the end of all the lms narrative has told us. That
2. The collapse, we assume, is involuntary, and so Andreas is not expressing anything by collapsing; but the collapse is, nonetheless, expressive of his state, as a sad but involuntary facial expression is expressive of sadness. 3. On seeing-in see Richard Wollheim, Seeing-as, Seeing-in, and Pictorial Representation, in Art and its Objects, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). See also Richard Wollheim, On Pictorial Representation, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56 (1998): 217 26. 4. On this see Carl Plantinga, Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectators Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 14344.

Bergman and the Film Image


shot has been extensively commented on.5 The import of the earlier one, which must be understood in retrospect, is harder to get at. It has not, I think, been much considered. When we return to the lm, it will be necessary to recall the narrative in outline, and to look closely at some of its more problematic features. 2. DEPICTION, REPRESENTATION, NARRATIVE I said, without explanation, that depictive representations are those where we see the depicted thing in the representation: we see the man in the painting, we see the woman in the movie image. Wollheim, to whom we owe the idea of seeing-in and the claim that this is the key to understanding depictive representation, thought that seeing-in is marked by its special character of twofoldness, or simultaneous attention to what is seen and to the features of the medium.6 We see the man in the picture; at the same time we see the marks on the canvas which constitute the representation of the man. We marvel endlessly, he says, at the way in which line or brushstroke or expanse of colour is exploited to render effects or establish analogies that can only be identied representationally.7 In the nal shot from A Passion we see something that ought to count as an instance of twofoldness, but it is not of the kind Wollheim has in mind with his talk of marks that create effects to be identied representationally (he means, pretty obviously, depictive representation here). In seeing this shot we are aware of what is depicted, and of a feature of the depictive surface: its visible grain. But in this case the marks we are aware of are not identied representationally; the marks on the image surface do not represent anything. As the image becomes grainy, Andreas and his surroundings are not depicted as becoming grainy; the graininess does not contribute to the depiction of the scene, but impedes it. We need a distinction between two kinds of twofoldness; Domenic Lopes distinguishes them as design-seeing and surface-seeing.8 When we see the design of the image, we see features of the image-surface as features in virtue of which the surface depicts a scene.9 That is not, I have said, how we see the grain of the
5. Peter Harcourt, A Passion: Analysis, in Ingmar Bergman: Essays in Criticism, ed. S. Kaminski and J. Hill (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), 291. It has been called one of the most remarkable shots in the history of the cinema. 6. Wollheim, Seeing-as, Seeing-in, 212. 7. Ibid., 216. 8. See Domenic McIver Lopes, Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), chap. 1; Bence Nanay, Is Twofoldness Necessary for Representational Seeing? The British Journal of Aesthetics 45, no. 3 (2005): 24857. 9. Lopes, Sight and Sensibility, 36. As Jerry Levinson has pointed out, it cannot be right to say that seeing something in a picture depends on having a twofold experience of the object represented and of the marks which constitute its representation, for in many cases, and certainly in the case of lm, we are not aware of any such marks; looking at the screen, we do not see marks on the image which serve to depict people and things; we simply see the people and things portrayed on screen ( Jerry Levinson, Wollheim on Pictorial Representation, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56 [1998]: 22733; see also Lopes, Understanding Pictures [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996], secs. 2.4 and 2.5). It does, on the other hand, seem to be a requirement for seeing something in a picture that we are aware of the pictures surface; as Bence Nanay (Is Twofoldness Necessary?, 254) says, when someone looking at a postcard of a street is asked to touch one of the


Gregory Currie

image. Seeing the grain is a matter of surface-seeing: we see aspects of the picture surface simply as marks, colours, and textures on a two-dimensional surface. So what we have, in the case of this nal shot, is something which provides for an experience of twofoldness. And this experience is a case of surface-seeing, not of design-seeing: we see what is depicted in the image, and we see certain marks on the image that do not contribute to depiction. And there is the additional fact, already noted, that the marks limit, though they do not until the end entirely destroy, our capacity to see the thing represented: the man Andreas. 3. POINT OF VIEW SHOTS I have said that the images in a ction lm depict scenes in the objective world; the unied spatio-temporal world of causally interacting objects. They depict people and furniture, or suns and planets, or (less usually) blood owing through veins, neural rings, molecular interactions. In saying that what lm shows us must be part of the objective world I dont mean that what it shows us must be part of that world as it really is; we are talking about ctions here. Something related to that idea is true; digital and other technical effects aside, whatever lm shows us, it does by showing us parts of reality, for lm represents by means of recording what is really there, typically, actors on sets. Even animation lms record what is really there drawings. But there is a perfectly good sense in which lm shows us what is not there: heroes battling vampires, Sylvester chasing Tweety Pie. These events are ctitious, but they are events which hold in the objective world according to the ction the lm presents. When lms depict unreal things, such as vampires and ghosts, or merely ctional people, they depict them as things in an objective world, however insubstantial in the ghostly case. Paisley Livingston asks whether there might be exceptions to this, as when a surrealist-inspired lm purports to depict a solipsistic or a-causal world. I think there are difculties in the way of such depictive projects, some of them exemplifying what Brian Weatherson has called the alethic puzzle: that story-makers do not seem to have absolute control over what is to count as true in their stories.10 I will not argue the case here. Im content to withdraw to the more modest claim that, except in cases where the lm asks us to accept a nonstandard metaphysics of space and time, what is depicted are scenes in the objective world. This withdrawal wont matter for present purposes because the claim I am keen to defend is that such things as point of view (PoV) shots, lying ashbacks, dream sequences, and delusional and hallucinatory episodes can be fully accommodated within a theory which limits what is depicted on screen to occurrences within the
houses, we expect them to move so as to touch the picture surface, and not to generate a movement that would pass through the surface to a house beyond. On this view, seeing something in a picture requires twofoldness in the sense of surface-seeing, but not in the sense of design-seeing. (See, however, Levinson, Wollheim on Pictorial Representation, 229, who sketches an account of pictorial seeing that does not appeal to twofoldness of any kind.) 10. See Brian Weatherson, Morality, Fiction, and Possibility, Philosophers Imprint 4 (2004): 127. The circumstances under which control fails remain disputed.

Bergman and the Film Image


objective world. It is a consequence of this view that, in order to account for dream sequences and the rest, we dont need to postulate subjective or solipsistic space-time manifolds. Whether there are ever other reasons to postulate such things in order to accommodate a lmmakers ambitions is something I dont try to settle here. Consider, rst of all, PoV shots: those from the perspective of a represented character. It is conventional, I have said, to regard these as subjective; they show us the characters experiences, not parts of the objective world. But how could a cinematic image show us an experience? The images we count as PoV show us what the characters visual experience is of, and what a visual experience is of is part of the objective world.11 This does not tell us what is distinctive about PoV shots, but that is because what is distinctive about them is not what they depict, but what is communicated by the act of presenting them to an audience. By seeing the shot in a certain relation to other shots, and in the context of the narratives development so far, I understand that I am to imagine that what is depicted is what is seen by the character, and seen by the character pretty much as it is depicted. Is this all there is to the understanding of a PoV shot? I think there is something more, something that allows me to have thoughts about the phenomenology of the experience had by the character as he or she watches. Seeing the shot myself, I imagine, of my visual experience, that it is an experience of directly seeing what is depicted in the shot. This involves two ways in which my visual experience is imaginatively elaborated. First, while I am in fact seeing a lm image, I imagine seeing things in an unmediated way. Second, while the things visible in the shot are really actors and sets, I imagine that the things I am directly seeing are not those things but instead the characters and locations portrayed in the lms story. Thinking of my experience in this imaginative way, I can then think: that is what the characters experience is like, where that refers, not to the shot or anything visible in it, but to my experience of seeing it.12 This proposal may seem needlessly complex. Why not rest content with the idea that one has the thought The character sees that, where that refers to the visual display visible on the screen in the PoV shot? This proposal is in fact not signicantly simpler than the one just outlined, because it requires, as the other one does, that there is a degree of imaginative elaboration. It does not make sense to think that the character sees actors on sets recorded on lm; ones thought must be that the character is directly seeing the (other) characters and situations of the plot.
11. Thus, I agree with George Wilson who says that what lm viewers imagine seeing in a veridical POV shot are the ctional circumstances that the character perceives (George Wilson, Transparency and Twist in Narrative Fiction Film, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64, no. 1 [2006]: 84). 12. See Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft, Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 96, where we emphasize the importance, for understanding and predicting a persons behavior, of the imaginative recreation of their perceptual states. Here, I am indebted to work by Jane Heal, Mind, Reason and Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), essays in Part III; and by Kendall Walton, Projectivism, Empathy, and Musical Tension, Philosophical Topics 26 (1999): 40740. I have taken the term inection from Wilson (Transparency and Twist) though I assign it a different meaning. For more on Wilsons views see below Section 3.


Gregory Currie

So in referring to the visual display, one must be imagining that display to be what it in fact merely depicts. Still, a question remains: why invoke an account that depends on our assuming that the mental state of the viewer is a representational device when we could conne our attention to what is represented on screen? I have said that this choice allows us to incorporate into our response to the lm thoughts about the subjective aspect of a characters experience; I grant that it is not evident at this stage why we would need to do this. In Section 5, I will discuss a class of shots, some of them PoV, a proper understanding of which does require that they prompt thoughts of this kind. I choose, therefore, to invoke the representational power of the viewers mental state at this point, believing that the result is a more unied account of PoV shots. But if you resist this invocation here, you will not able to do so much longer. 4. LIES, DREAMS, DELUSIONS On the account given so far, PoV shots dont challenge Depictive Fullness; the shots themselves show us what the character sees, and what the character sees is part of the objective world. But what, then, of cases where the character sees something only in a loose sense, as when the character is having an hallucination? What the character sees, in this loose sense, is not part of the objective world of the story. In A Passion, we see the content of a dream had by Anna: we see things happen in this sequence which are not true in the story of the lm; what is true in the story is that Anna dreams these things, not that they happen.The same problem arises for shots that are indicative of what someone claims or thinks, when what they claim or think does not happen according to the story. The rst ashback in Crossre (Dmytryk, 1947) has the murderer leaving the victims apartment before the crime. This, we soon learn or have already guessed, is merely what happened according to the murderers account, and not what happened according to the lm, the relevant content of which we see in the ashback following.13 Also common are the representation of dream, fantasy, and delusion. Indeed many lms consist almost entirely of the representation of what is so according to a dream or delusion, with just enough material dedicated to what actually happened to alert us to the purely imagined content of the rest, though the clues sometimes arrive very late. Woman in the Window (Lang, 1944) and The Other (Mulligan, 1972) are examples of this delayed-revelation genre. Cases like this have been perceptively discussed by George Wilson in an essay to which I will return.14 I deny that in these cases the lm image represents anything subjective; what is represented is, again, the objective world, but this time the objective world as it is said, imagined, dreamed, fantasized, or hallucinated as being by some character (imagined will be my shorthand for this disjunction). What is here represented as being the case is not true, nor true according to the lms story. But it is true
13. This lying ashback is much less noted than the later one in Stage Fright (Hitchcock, 1950), presumably because we are cued in to the characters unreliability in Crossre much earlier than we are in Stage Fright. 14. Wilson, Transparency and Twist.

Bergman and the Film Image


according to the imagining of the lms character. And just as in more orthodox lmic narratives, we are shown what is so according to something (the lm), we are in these less common cases shown what is so according to somethingthe imagining of a character. In some lms the material that depicts the content of a characters imagining is segregated from the material that depicts what actually happened according to the lm. Most of the shots in Woman in the Window depict things that happen only according to Professor Wanleys dream, and did not happen according to the story the lm tells. They contribute to telling that story because they enable us to make inferenceswhen we know what is going onabout what did happen in the story, namely that Wanley had a dream according to which those things happened.15 In other cases, the imagined material is not segregated from the material which depicts the storys real events. In The Other, a young boy, Niles, seems drawn unwillingly into his twin brother Hollands evil activities; it eventually becomes clear that Holland has been dead for some time and that Niles is responsible for the mayhem. To the point where this becomes evident, we see Niles and Holland talking and acting together; this is later understood by us as the depiction of how Niles imagines things to be. However, the scenes in which Niles and Holland appear together (they do not appear in the same frame) are also scenes that depict events that actually happen, according to the lm: other characters appear in those scenes and say and do things that have consequences, sometimes fatal, further on.16 When we come to know what is really going on, we are able to divide the information we have received from these shots into two channels: one comprises information about what happened according to the story; the other, information about what happened according to Niles delusions. And we are also now able to make inferences about the relations between the two. For example, we can now see that Niles quarrel with his mother was a cause of him imagining that Holland pushed her down the stairs: something we now realize Niles was responsible for.17
15. One thing indicated by The Woman in the Window is that the material that is true according to the lm is not always the focus of the viewers interest; viewers are likely to nd the content of the dream much more engaging than the fact that these events are dreamed. There is a corresponding tendency to subvert the lms formal structure and take the content of the dream, and not the dreaming itself, as the story told. 16. We do need to recognize that some shots which represent the content of imaginings (in my very broad sense) are in every respect true to the lms story content. For there are shots that represent the contents of peoples memories, and memories are sometimes correct. A shot that represents the content of a veridical memory will not automatically be also a shot that represents the lms story. At the time we see the shot it may be entirely unclear as to whether the persons memory is reliable or not, in which case the shot is best thought of as representing only what is so according to memory, while a later visually indistinguishable shot seen by us after the reliability of the memory is established might represent what actually happened. What shots represent depends on how they function in the lms narrative, and a later repetition of a shot may have a different function from the earlier occurrence. But if a memory is antecedently established as veridical, I see no reason to deny that it may represent both the content of the memory and what, according to the lms story, actually happened; after all, these are, in some cases, the same thing. 17. If this account is right then dream sequences and their like in movies are of a kind very different from the sorts of play within a play episodes we get in Elizabethan drama; in Hamlet


Gregory Currie

Shots associated with dreams or hallucinations are sometimes also shots that tell us about how the character having the dream or hallucination is experiencing these things. They may be PoV shots, showing the content of the imagining from the point of view of the imaginer. But often the images are not of this kind; when the subject is visible within the shot, it shows how things are in the world of the imagining, including how they are with the subject whose imagining it is. There is some tendency to regard shots of this kind as anomalous, though perhaps understandable from a dramatic point of view. In my view they are not anomalous; in the world as it is according to a subjects imaginings, the subject may himself be placed in relation to the imagined events. It is then a legitimate choice as to whether the lm shows what the subject imagines seeingin which case the images will be PoVor shows what is happening according to what the subject imagines; for what the subject imagines and what the subject imagines seeing are not always the same. I may imagine seeing down into the Grand Canyon from Lipan Point, as part of a wider imaginative project which involves imagining that I am standing at Lipan Point. It would then be a legitimate lmic representation of my imagining, taken as a whole, to depict me standing there. This is how things are in some scenes from Bergmans Wild Strawberries. In these scenes Isak Borg (Victor Sjstrm) nds himself at the house he lived in long ago, and imagines seeing the people he knew there, including a girl he had wanted to marry, Sara (Bibi Andersson). Bergman has said that he conceived these scenes by wondering how it would be to literally revisit ones past, and that is the sense conveyed, since the now elderly Borg is often visible in the frame, along with the other characters, still in their youths.18 But it seems likely also that we are not to take these scenes as ones Borg actually recalls having been present at; since he is now hearing, at close quarters, conversations which the participants would not have wanted him to hear. Borgs imagining is, in that case, more complex: he imagines visiting a past that he imaginatively constructs on the basis of things he does knowthat, for example, the woman he wished to marry married someone else. Thus understood, these shots do not tell us much about exactly how he visually imagines these things; they do not tell us how these things look to him in his visual imagination, for we see him in the frame. Nor do they tell us much about what actually happened. They are simply representations of the world as it is according to his imagining, which involves a good deal more than is included in what he imagines seeing.

what is represented on stage is players acting out the Gonzago drama; the content of that drama is, for us theatre goers, a representation-within-a-representation. But when we watch a dream sequence in a movie, we are not watching a representation within a (mental) representation; we are simply watching the content of the dream. 18. Stig Bjrkman, Torsten Maans, and Jonas Sima, Bergman on Bergman (London: Secker and Warburg, 1973). Bergman subsequently denied this account: see Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film (Stockholm: Norstedts Frlag, 1990).

Bergman and the Film Image 5. NONDEPICTION IN THE FILM IMAGE


We have not found anything, so far, to contradict Depictive Fullness. The images in those scenes from Wild Strawberries are fully representational, though they do not represent story content. The same holds of PoV shots, both where what is seen is, according to the lms story, veridical, and where it is not. But we come now to some cases where Depictive Fullness does not hold. In these cases there is, typically, depiction of what is so according to the lm, or according to some dream or delusion or testimony of a character. But not everything visible in the image plays a depictive role. Examples of this occur when the image is out of focus, or has a smeared appearance because the camera is smeared with some substance, or a strange light suffuses the scene. In at least some of these cases, we are not to understand that objects themselves are represented as out of focus, or smeary, or suffused with a strange light. There need be nothing intrinsic to the image itself which makes this so. A shot suffused with a strange light could represent a scene suffused with exactly that light; even a blurred image, in the right context, could represent things that are supposed, in some way, to be blurred imagine an Horizon documentary on quantum indeterminacy. Nonetheless, in some cases where the image is blurred or strangely lit we may, taking into account the broader context of the movies narrative, form the view that these and other aspects of the shot do not contribute to the depiction of the objective world; the blurriness corresponds rather to some aspect of the way the world looks to the character who, we may suppose, is drunk. And one tempting response to this apparent opening up of a gap in the lms depictive fabric is to believe it lled by the depiction of something else, something that is not part of the objective world. So we say that what is here depicted are aspects of the phenomenology of a characters experiential state. That move challenges my claim that shots always, where they represent anything, represent the objective world. Does the smeariness of the lm image depict something in the phenomenology of a characters visual experience? I have already expressed doubt about the idea that visual experiences can be depicted; we can see things in the objective world, but we cant see a persons seeing of them.19 And if we cant see a persons seeing, we cant see any phenomenal quality of the seeing. We might agree with this conclusion and still think that there is something in the idea that images depict subjective states, reasoning as follows. We are heir to a mistaken way of thinking about perceptual states, one which sees them as pictures in the head, and this mistaken way of thinking makes it seem natural to us that some aspect of a lm image depicts some aspect of phenomenology. So while it may be the case that no lm image can depict a mental state, it may also be true that such images are regularly presented by lmmakers as depicting mental states, and taken by audiences as doing just that, in which case their function could not be explained without appeal to the idea that images do depict
19. We can, in seeing a shot, see that someone sees something; in that case what is depicted is that the person sees something, not their seeing of it.


Gregory Currie

mental states, even if that idea is false and perhaps even incoherent. But if there is a popular, even commonsensical, view of perception along these lines it is more probably the view that perception occurs when there are pictures in the head and we see them with an inner eye. So even according to the mistaken view, seeing a lmic depiction of a picture in the head would not be a case of seeing a perceptual state. Anyway, I believe I can give an account of lmic depiction that is coherent, plausible, does not depend on our adopting a mistaken, even an incoherent, theory, and is consistent with our practices of making and viewing lms. Our earlier discussion of PoV shots is the clue here. Recall: the PoV shot does not depict the characters experience, but it does convey to us the information that the characters experience is like our experience of seeing the shot. Similarly, in the case where some aspect of a characters phenomenology is being made salient, this is not because the lm image is depicting it. Nor is the lm image representing it in some other, nondepictive, way. Rather, it is serving as a means by which some aspect of my experience of watching the lm represents some aspect of the characters experience. When I take off my glasses, the screen before me looks blurred, but my experience is not as of a blurred screen; my experience is of something sharp that I cant see properly; the blurring I take to be a projection onto the world caused by my defective vision. The movie image, with its deliberate blurring of objects depicted, gives me an opportunity to recreate something like that experience. When I see the blurred image, it is somewhat as if I am seeing thingsthe things depicted in the imagewhich are sharp but which, for some reason, look blurred to me. I am able then to imagine, of this experience, that it is an experience of seeing those objects directlyseeing them without the mediation of a camerabut seeing them with blurred vision. And that enables me, nally, to say that this experience, which I imagine to be an experience of seeing things with blurred vision, is like the experience had by the character. I can think That is how the character is seeing things, where that refers to the experience I am having now. When a shot contains visible features that do not contribute to what the shot depicts, I shall say that the shot is inected.20 Such a shot violates Depictive Fullness. But the shots that I have considered so far are all shots in which inections, while not themselves representational, play a part in helping us to represent a characters experience; in Murray Smiths happy phrase, they are representational prompts. Since they prompt us to use our own experiences to represent the experiences of characters, we may say that these shots are experientially inected. Very occasionally, we nd inected shots that are not experientially inected, and the two shots from A Passion that I will discuss later are of this kind. If an inected shot is experientially inected, must it be PoV? No. George Wilson recalls a scene in Farewell My Lovely (Dmytryk, 1944) where Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) has been drugged. We see Marlowe in a hospital room,
20. I take the term from Wilson, Transparency and Twist, 84. For convenience, I exclude from the class of inections visible but accidental features such as are occasionally due to imperfections in the lming, development, or projection of the image.

Bergman and the Film Image


and the shots are inected with cobweb-like strands that seem to hang in the air. We understand that these are not depictive; there are no cobweb-like elements hanging in the air according to the story. We understand that something in our experience of watching the scene, namely the seeing of these cobweb-like strands, corresponds to something in Marlowes own current drug-affected visual experience.21 But the shots that make up this scene are not PoV shots; we see Marlowe himself in the shots, and see things from points of view other than his.22 We may think, his experience is similar, in respect of the appearance of cobweblike inections, to our own current experience of seeing the shot, without thinking it similar in respect of point of view. There is something here of relevance to the topic we ponderously call the ontology of lm. I have defended the claim that what is depicted on screen is always something objective. But this is not the claim that what is represented in lm is always objective, because a lm represents much more than is depicted on screen. Films generally represent their characters as existing when off screen, but this, obviously, is not depicted. But then the question arises as to what we consider to be the boundaries of the lm itself. We might think of the lm as a representational system, with functionally organized partsan image track and a sound track being the obvious onesbut also with the capacity to exploit communicative practices that allow inferences to be made about what else is going on in the story from premises about what is directly seen and heard. My suggestion now is that we can also think of the minds of the viewers as co-opted into the lms representational system. Having viewers there watching enables things to be represented in certain ways in lm that would otherwise not be able to be represented in those ways, namely the experiential states of characters. Film allows the experiential states of viewers to represent the experiential states of characters, thus allowing viewers to have thoughts of the form That is how it is with the character. I offer this merely as a conjecture; nothing I shall say further depends on a decision about its truth. 6. WILSONS ACCOUNT There are some differences between the account I have given so far and one offered by George Wilson. Wilson classes together shots which depict the content of the characters imagining (the character is, in his example, hallucinating a pink aardvark), and shots where, say, blurred focus is used to imitate the effects of drunkenness; these are all cases of what he calls subjective inection.23 In my view these two kinds are very different, because only the latter violate depictive fullness. We should avoid disputes over ways of classing shots together when all we have is two equally good systems, t for distinct purposes. But I think I detect a substantive difference between us here. Wilson argues for his classication on the grounds that
21. Things may in fact be a little more complicated. I am not sure that we are supposed to think that Marlowe is having a visual experience with exactly this property. Perhaps we are to take the web-like threads as a sort of visual metaphor for his befuddled perceptual state. 22. Wilson, Transparency and Twist, 87. 23. Ibid., 85.


Gregory Currie

shots containing hallucinatory material represent internal properties of a characters perceptual state, and therefore deserve to be classed alongside shots that indicate the characters drink-impaired perception by means of blurred focus.24 As I have indicated, I dont accept that hallucination shots represent internal properties of perceptual states; they represent aspects of the objective world as it is according to the characters perception and/or belief. As I have also indicated, the blurred focus in a drunkenness shot also does not represent internal properties of perceptual states, though it does allow our own perceptual experiences to represent such properties. If that view is right, then these two kinds of shots have completely distinct representational functions, both in terms of what is represented, and in terms of their contribution to its representation. Having emphasized disagreement with Wilson, I must now acknowledge defeat in what is probably a more signicant and certainly a longer lasting dispute between us. Wilson, Kendall Walton, and others have claimed, while I and others have denied, that viewers at movies imagine seeing the events of the lm. I have never denied, of course, that lms are to be seen, or that our imaginings concerning their ctional events have a distinctively visual character. But I have denied that we imagine seeing these events.25 Wilson and Walton have responded by elaborating a theory of what it is to imagine seeing things that has the resources to avoid the more obvious difculties, which I and others have suggested stand in the way of this thesis.26 But now it strikes me that we have a positive reason to accept the thesis of imagining seeing (as it has come to be called), namely, that in order to explain how experientially inected elements of the image can be representational prompts, we need to appeal to that very thesis. For we need to say that the function of such an element is to enable a viewer to think, of their own (imagined) seeing of the ctional events, that it is like the characters visual experience. 7. A PASSION It is time, at last, to turn to Bergmans lm. I have described a shot that occurs at the end. Consider another shot, this time from the beginning of the lm. Andreas
24. Ibid., 85. But some of what Wilson says suggests that his view and mine are not very different: What [audience members] imagine seeing is what they recognise to be the visual contents of the characters dream (ibid., 86). Later in the essay, Wilson, reecting on movies that turn out to be substantially the rendition of a characters dream, decides that the viewer who watches, knowing the outcome in advance, imagines seeing the events of the dream; there is, he says, a difference between what the viewer imagines seeing and the ctional status he or she grants to these events (ibid., 90). This seems to me to be very hospitable to the thought that what the dream sequence displays is the world according to the dream. But then there is no need to ask, as Wilson does, whether the imagined seeing by one person of the private visual experiences of another [is] really coherent, because seeing the content of the dream is not a matter of seeing a private experience but of seeing the objective world represented as being a certain waythe way it is according to the dream. 25. See especially Gregory Currie, Image and Mind: Film, Philosophy and Cognitive Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), chap. 6. 26. See George Wilson, Le Grande Imagier Steps Out, Philosophical Topics 25 (1997); 295318; Kendall Walton, On Pictures and Photographs: Objections Answered, in Film Theory and Philosophy, ed. R. Allen and M. Smith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

Bergman and the Film Image


(Max von Sydow) is seen mending the roof of his house, and pauses for a moment to look outwards. His face seems to register mild pleasure. A PoV shot then shows the sun, with an area of brightness extending beyond its disc, and with a further halo of light making a more distant circle around the sun. On that halo are displayed two false suns or paraheliaa genuine if unusual optical phenomenon.27 The sun then fades as clouds pass over, and Andreas brief moment of pleasure passes with it. With no role in the development of plot, it is tempting to classify this as symbolic of the psychological darkness that will occlude a relationship. Bergman, who said he disliked symbols, would have been justied in seeing this as a particularly trite example. It can be seen as more interesting, and more informative, in the light of our analysis of lmic depiction. First, we need a reminder of the lms narrative, the few uncontroversial facts of which are briey stated. Andreas lives alone on an island; he meets a couple, Elis (Erland Josephson) and Eva (Bibi Andersson), and the woman who is living with them, Anna (Liv Ullmann). Evas marriage is unhappy, and she has a brief liaison with Andreas. Against a background of mounting tension due to unexplained attacks on animals and the suicide of an islander suspected of the crime, Andreas and Anna form a relationship. Neither has successfully resolved a problematic past, and by the end of the lm their relationship seems to have failed. A more detailed specication, especially as to motive, is more difcult. Annas husband and child died in a car crash on the island; Anna was driving. The lms narration places heavy emphasis on the existence of a letter from Annas husband that dramatically contradicts her own upbeat evaluation of their relationship, an evaluation that seems, even without the letter, close to contradictory, since the couple are said by her to have experienced violent quarrels, indelity and separation while living in complete honesty. Less salient but at least as relevant to understanding the dynamics of the plot is the unreliability of Andreas own self-assessment. We learn that Andreas wife has left him, that he has been in prison for fraud and a drunken attack on a police ofcer. Unsurprisingly, he is withdrawn and mistrustful. Told by the overbearing Elis that he behaves like a beaten dog, he responds I am a beaten dog, complaining later and at length to Anna about peoples well-meaning contempt. While the lms rhetorical structure does not indicate unreliability at this point, it is worth asking Whose contempt, precisely? The remark notably takes no account of his affair with Eva, who, attractive and sophisticated but convinced of her own failure in just about everything, is drawn to Andreas and nds his later relations with Anna difcult. And Andreas is, it seems, of good standing in the island community: assisting a farmer whose sheep have been killed, spoken to in a conding way by another whose horse was burned; even the neighbors suicide note is addressed to him. The police, who have to deal with Andreas concerning the suicide and who might be suspicious of an ex-convict in their crime-ridden community, are respectful. The only person we see of whom Andreas could justly complain is Elis, who seems to be generally unpleasant and who knows or suspects something about the affair with Eva. Andreas mistrust, his fear of humiliation, as he puts
27. Though the asymmetric placement of the parahelia on the halo is unrealistic.


Gregory Currie

it, his inability to respond to Annas warmly sympathetic and unquestioning response to his catalogue of troubles: these are perhaps understandable in the light of his prior experiences. But his understanding of his own motives and those of others is surely defective. This is clearest in his nal angry exchange with Anna. Apparently enjoying a coup de theatre, he reveals his knowledge of the letter from Annas husband, grandly and ungenerously declaring her own account of the relationship as lies. Yet he sees nothing to compromise his own position in the fact that he came by the letter because, at their rst meeting, he searched Annas bag. Immediately prior to his revelation about the letter, Andreas has physically attacked Anna, for no obvious reason. The letter from Annas husband, with its warnings of physical and psychological violence seems a better description of Andreas disposition than of Annas. All this is left for us to infer; no character queries his view of the world, while all the dramatic emphasis is given to Annas unreliability, making it easy to conclude that some obscurely malevolent aspect of her character is responsible for their break-up.28 But the evidence of Andreas unreliability is there in the contrast between his words and what we see. And unreliability is thematized beyond the evident tensions in the characters own narratives. Take the voiceover, spoken by Bergman himself. These brief interpolations, at the beginning, the end, and a few times between, are given in the style of conventionally omniscient narration. But there is unreliability here as well. In an exchange between Andreas and Anna following the suicide of a villager, Anna says she is praying for the dead man, to which Andreas responds in bitter toneson no grounds we can recognizethat she is praying for herself, commenting on her goddamn lousy acting. Shortly after this, the voiceover tells us that they have been living together for a year, that there were quarrels, but their words were never poisonous or contaminating. It is widely agreed that a theme of A Passion is the weight of the past and its effect on present action; an idea earlier and more optimistically pursued in Wild Strawberries. But critics have not given sufcient weight to the role of Andreas heavily burdened past in shaping this theme, because his unreliability is not well understood. His is largely a distorted perception of agency: a morbid sensitivity to the supposed cruel and deceptive actions of others, which shifts his attention from his own motives, closing off corridors of action that might lead to a better future. The two shots I have described, one at the beginning and one at the end of the lm, emphasize, in their different ways, the nature of this misperception. Recall: we have, rst, a PoV shot of the sun with its parahelia, and, right at the end, a breaking-up shot of Andreas collapse. I draw attention rst to the articial look of the shot of the sun and its parahelia. Instead of having the usual cinematic experience of seeing through the image to the world beyond, we see patches of light on the surface of the image: imposed marks, gradually erased by
28. Commentators have tended to assume that the nal scene in the car represents an attempt by Anna to kill them both, this being a presumed repetition of the event that resulted in the death of her husband and son (see, e.g., Hubert Cohen, Ingmar Bergman: The Art of Confession [New York: Twayne, 1993], 314). But the events depicted are at least as easily understood as Annas loss of control under the pressure of Andreas goading commentary.

Bergman and the Film Image


an invisible hand. These marks are depictive. They depict the sun, and the shot, given its PoV perspective, communicates that Andreas sees the sun, and sees it fade as clouds pass in front. But the depiction is achieved, or looks as if it is achieved, by means of an optical device that has superimposed a pattern of light on the image.29 We see the sun and its parahelia in the image; at the same time we see marks on the image in virtue of which the sun and its parahelia are depicted.30 We have an experience of that kind of twofoldness that Lopes has called design-seeing; a rare thing in lm. And because we see the sun as an imposed disc of light, and its disappearance as an erasure, we see, or may see, its fading as the result of deliberate intervention by the lms makers. Does that sense of erasure have a parallel in Andreas own experience? I suggest it does. As the sun disappears, Andreass look of pleasure does not merely fade to neutrality; a bitter look replaces it, as if the occlusion is indicative of the worlds hostility, and hence in some vague sense the product of agency. We need not think of him as actually seeing the sun as an erased mark, seeing it, that is, in the way we see it. What matters is our seeing it that way, and the clue this gives us to understanding Andreas tendency to misperceive malign agencysomething he will do more evidently and to greater consequence later in the lm.31 What, then, of the lms closing shot? Instead of seeing something representational imposed on the image, as with the fading sun, we see something nonrepresentational: the grain of the image made salient by magnication. We have seen that nonrepresentational elements in an image can contribute to the project of representing, by providing us with ways of representing a characters experience by means of our own. Is that how it is with this shot? The shot is not PoV; we dont see from the point of a view of a character, and certainly not from Andreas point of view. But subjective inection without PoV is possible, as with shots, discussed earlier, from Farewell My Lovely. Should we think of Andreas as having a perceptual experience relevantly like the experience we have when we see the shot, a
29. In an interview Bergman discusses the shot without giving a precise account of its creation, though he mentions an optical printer, and says that the shot was difcult to construct (Bjorkman et al., Bergman on Bergman [London: Secker & Warburg, 1973], 255). The comments above depend only on the appearance of the shot, and not on how it was in fact constructed. 30. One might object that things like halos and parahelia, along with rainbows, are not objects in the objective world; there is no halo where a halo seems, according to our perceptual experience, to be. This raises complex issues which might eventually have us look more closely at the justication for counting colors and other secondary properties as part of the objective world. For present purposes Im happy to count colors, rainbows, and halos as objective phenomena. They are the sorts of things for the presence of which we have intersubjective tests, they have physical explanations, we can capture them on lm, it makes sense to ask Is that really a parahelion or just a trick of the light? etc. 31. In an interesting study of the philosophical background to Bergmans work Paisley Livingston describes aspects of the thought of Eino Kaila, a Finish philosopher of the rst half of the twentieth century who seems to have inuenced Bergman. Kaila was interested in psychopathology and its connection to magical thinking, and argued that strong emotion can encourage a kind of animism that mistakes purely natural events for the workings of spirits (Paisley Livingston, Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009], 137). Livingston notes an example of this sort of thinking from Bergmans The Face. If my interpretation is right, the shot of the sun from A Passion offers another instance.


Gregory Currie

visual experience in which the world about him seems to fragment? I think the answer is no; this shot is best understood as devoid of experiential inection, for the kind of experiential inection it would imply is not helpful for understanding Andreas situation. Andreas difculty is not with his visual access to the world, but with emotional access to it. The shots increasing graininess, and the consequent degradation of its capacity to represent is expressive of the now acute phase of a mental as well as physical collapse we may assume Andreas to be undergoing; a condition that in earlier and less acute stages explains his tendency to overattribute malign intention. I have said that the nal shot is expressive of Andreass emotional, and more generally cognitive collapse. The grounds for calling it expressive were these: that (1) the shot depicts something that is expressive of his mental collapse, namely his physical collapse, and (2) the nondepictive feature of the shot its gradual break-upis a natural analogue of mental collapse. This I grant is a case of expressiveness only in an extended sense; but expression is an elastic notion. The earlier shot of the sun manages to disclose to us something important about another aspect of Andreas mental state; his disposition to be captured by a sense of malign agency. Is the shot of the sun also expressive of that mental state, as I said the nal shot is expressive of his mental collapse? Perhaps we can stretch the notion of expressiveness further, so as to accommodate this idea. But it is not clear what the advantage would be. Id rather be content with the claim that the shot of the sun is revelatory of the mental state: it discloses the state to us, if we think about it in the right way. Certainly, its relation to that state is signicantly further from paradigmatically expressive cases than is the lms nal shot.

8. CONCLUSION However we categorize the relations between these two shots from A Passion and the mental states they disclose, the mechanisms of disclosure have something to do with their being unusual in their depictive qualities. In their different ways, these shots provide opportunities for twofold experiences. The shot of the suns parahelia from A Passion is a rare case in lm where there is depictive fullness and twofoldness. Shots of this kind always provide an occasion for that species of twofoldness which is design-seeing. Shots that violate Depictive Fullness, and hence are inected, always do so because they contain nondepicting parts or aspects, and not because they contain parts or aspects that depict something nonobjective. The nal shot from A Passion is of this kind, and its inection is nonexperiential. This shot provides an unusual occasion for surface-seeing; we notice what is represented and notice, at the same time, marks on the image that do not contribute to depiction. Experientially inected shots are more common, and contrast with both these kinds. Take a blurred shot which allows us to use our experience of seeing it to represent a characters drunken experience. The blurriness of the shot is not something that is intended to provoke in an audience an experience of either kind

Bergman and the Film Image


of twofoldness.32 For we are not intended to think of the blurriness as a feature of the image at all; the blurring of the image functions as a prop in a game of make-believe according to which our own vision is defective in a way which makes things look blurry.33 We imagine, of our act of seeing the image, that it is an act of seeing something that is sharp but looks blurry to us. And we are able to think, of a character in the lm, That is how things look to her.34

32. It may be that there is twofoldness involved in seeing this shot, for in seeing it, we recognize that we are seeing an image of a person and not seeing the person directly. According to one view of what it takes to see something in an image, we must experience at least the kind of twofoldness that involves awareness both of the represented thing and of the surface on which it is represented. The claim I am making above is that, while we may be aware of the surface of the image, we should not treat the blurriness of the picture as a surface feature of it. 33. On props in games of make-believe see Kendall Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), sec. 1.5. 34. Im indebted to Paisley Livingston and Murray Smith for valuable comments on an earlier version; Paisley also helped with advice on the translation of some of the dialogue and voice-over narration. Work by George Wilson and Kendall Walton, referred to above, was important in helping to shape my ideas.

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