Excerpt from the book: Bergman on Bergman: Interviews With Ingmar Bergman by Stig Bjorkman, Torsten Manns, and Jonas Sima Translated from the Swedish by Paul Britten Austin, The Touchstone Edition, published by Simon & Schuster,1986. Original Swedish language edition © 1970 by P.A. Norstedt & Soners Forlag. This translation © 1973 by Martin Secker & Warburg Limited
TORSTEN MANNS: You have another play-within-the-play in The Hour of the Wolf. Are you a bit fixated on this sort of interlude?
INGMAR BERGMAN: After one has been working awhile on a full-length film, it’s a relief to interpolate something different. There sits your audience, looking in one direction. And suddenly you stick your head out and say – take a look over there for a while! And everyone turns his head. It gives them exercise. It’s as simple as that.
There was a good deal of discussion about the bit in Persona where the film snaps. A lot of wiseacres thought the interruption silly. They said it distracted the audience from what was going on, etc. Personally, I’m of exactly the opposite opinion. If you distract the audience temporarily from the course of events and then push them into it again, you don’t reduce their sensibility and awareness, you heighten it. In A Passion I’ve four clean acts – the film is built up in four blocks, and each block is rounded off with an aria. The actors appear and comment on their roles, place themselves slightly outside it…
… JONAS SIMA: The French nouvelle vague experimented with these ‘distancing’ effects. Belmondo, in A Bout de Souffle, turns direct to the audience now and again and comments on what’s going on. At the time this was regarded as something new and shocking.
BERGMAN: But it’s as old as the hills, don’t you realize that? In the theatre! The author turns directly to his audience. It’s simple and delightful.