Response to “Seeking God in Early Bergman: The Cases of The Seventh Seal and Winter Light”


  • Phoebe Pua Australian National University



Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal, Winter Light, religion, God, existentialism


This article offers alternate readings of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) and Winter Light (1963) to those proposed in a preceding article by Esma Kartal. It argues against the contention that the two films express optimism about one’s ability to resolve spiritual-existential angst and the possibility of ultimately reaffirming one’s faith. Through close analysis of pivotal scenes, including that of Death in the Castle in The Seventh Seal and the Frostnäs church service in Winter Light, the article exposes the unremitting pessimism that pervades the films’ atmospheres. In essence, the article asserts that the two films, Winter Light in particular, are among the most pessimistic in Bergman’s cinema.

Author Biography

Phoebe Pua, Australian National University

Masters of Philosophy (Candidate)

Research School of Humanities and the Arts (Film Studies)


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---. Images: My Life in Film. Trans. Marianne Ruuth. London: Bloomsbury, 1994. Print.

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---. “The Seventh Seal.” The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection, 12 Oct. 1987. Web. 13 July 2012.

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Kartal, Esma. “Seeking God in Early Bergman: The Cases of The Seventh Seal and Winter Light.” CINEJ Cinema Journal 1.2 (2012): 71-76. Web. 25 June 2012.

Sjöman, Vilgot. “From L136: A Diary of Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light.” Trans. Kaaren Grimstad. Cinema Journal 13.2 (Spring 1974): 34-40. Web. JSTOR. 10 July 2012.

---. L136: Diary with Ingmar Bergman. Trans. Alan Blair. Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers, 1978. Print.

---. “Excerpts from L136: Diary with Ingmar Bergman.” Ingmar Bergman Interviews. Trans. Alan Blair. Raphael Shargel, ed. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2007. 21-34. Print.

Stubbs, John C. “The Seventh Seal.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 9.2 (Apr. 1975): 62-76. JSTOR. 10 July 2012.

“Winter Light.” Ingmar Bergman Institute. 22 May 2012. Web. 11 July 2012.

Young, Colin. “The Seventh Seal.” Film Quarterly 12.3 (Spring 1959): 42-44. Web. JSTOR. 10 July 2012.




How to Cite

Pua, P. (2012). Response to “Seeking God in Early Bergman: The Cases of The Seventh Seal and Winter Light”. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 2(1), 42–57.