Externalization of the Interior Lives of Characters in Ingmar Berman’s “The Seventh Seal”

By Paul King.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many contemporary critics suggest that film is incapable of, or has a very difficult time developing the interior lives of its characters. These same critics often cite the innate capacity for literary works to capture this illusive reality. This argument generally rests on the assumption that thought is best expressed by words. But, in fact, thoughts are quite often a combination of images, music, and dialogue, and since these devices are implicit and central to film, what better medium to render thought? After an opening discussion of the various theoretical and practical aspects of externalizing the interior life of fictional characters, this paper will analyze Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal to facilitate an appreciation for the power of film to deal with the interior lives of its characters. In particular, this paper will focus on the ways in which various cinematic devices, such as lighting, set design, dialogue, and actors’ expressions, support the development of the interior lives of Bergman’s characters.

Keywords: Film, Bergman, The Seventh Seal, Interior Lives of Characters, Inner Lives of Characters

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.171-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 497.713KB).

Dr. Paul King

Part Time Lecturer, English Department, State University of New York, New York, New York, USA

Dr Paul King completed his Ph.D. at New York University in January 2004 with a specialization in writing theory and the adaptation of works of fiction to film. He is currently employed as an Adjunct Professor at both the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, and the School of Visual Arts, New York. His research interests include the interrelationship between film and literature and the pedagogical implications of that relationship. Dr King has also written a full-length screenplay adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “May Day” and is currently writing his first novel, Resurrection.


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