Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie – a great documentary

I have spent the evening writing up a grant to fund a new research project (while eating lots of chicken couscous that I made yesterday) on political communication using the technique of content analysis. I will be submitting it later on this week. More on that project in a future post.

While I was writing, I had a film about Ingmar Bergman‘s creative process playing in the background: Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie. It is fantastic. While watching it, I realised how challenging his creative life must have been. He was identified early on as a creative prodigy and his work usually involved deeply personal insight. Often his work would involve reflections on the nature of God, prayer and the contemplative life. In the documentary, which is composed of a series of interviews with him and his crew, Bergman reflects on his desire to produce films that move people and capture a feeling of place. He describes, quite candidly, how these goals obliged him to always move among people. What is most interesting, however, is how he keeps coming back to the idea of blending in, of anonymity. He says, at one point in the documentary, that he had no greater desire than to fit in to be anonymous – but that the very fact that he was capable of pulling truths and feelings out of the people, society and scenery around him made him stand out and maintained his celebrity. What a paradox.

I think the world of political communication is similar. A good political communicator is always among the people of his or her riding, empathising with them and then finds a way to synthesise the feelings, thoughts and dreams of his or her constituents into policy, communication and action. The politician becomes the tribune for the dreams, fears and everyday concerns of the population – something that requires maintaining a critical distance at the same time. I hadn’t realised how much politicians and artists have in common. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me – both artists and politicians deal in raw human needs and desires. There is a lesson to be learned here somewhere for Canada’s politicians. A little soul-searching is in order. To return politics to its place as the ground for negotiating the order of things in the City, it is necessary for political communication to become less stunt and attack oriented, and focus more on telling the story of Canada’s citizens in the House of Commons, then translating that story into legislation that retains what is good and beautiful, but points the nation toward a better future. This better future cannot be communicated as the imposition of a party’s ideology (“After all, you voted for us!”), rather it should be the weaving together of the stories that all members bring to the House, whether they are members of the Official Opposition, or of the Government.

I highly recommend the movie – very thought-provoking. Ingmar Bergman has a lot to teach political communicators in Canada.

Join the Conversation


  1. What I’ve found with clients is come at them from a slightly different angle. They won’t expect it and you break down barriers. All done in a humorous personable style.

    Client: I counted all the tiles in the waiting room there are 132. I’m really good at math. (Thinking I’ll be very impressed.)
    Me: 132 whole tiles or part tiles?
    Client: Um, 132 part & whole.
    Me: Well then if you were costing the job and priced out 132 whole tiles, you would be over bidding the job wouldn’t you?
    Client: Oh yeah.
    Me: Back to the drawing board.

    Another youth client: The rent is $750, that’s $350 each.
    Me: Try again.
    Another youth client: Oh yeah, that’s $375 each.
    Me: How much more is that than the $356 issued?
    Antoher client: $9.
    Me: You’re really having a bad math day aren’t you?

    My favourite picture of a writer is Albert Camus in a trench coat walking the streets of Paris, anonymously observing life.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *