Music, lust and modernity: Jazz in the films of Ingmar Bergman

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This article explores the recurrent use of jazz music in some of the early films of the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman: Kris/Crisis (1946), Till glädje/ To Joy (1949), Sommaren med Monika/Summer with Monika (1953), En lektion i kärlek/A Lesson in Love (1954), Kvinnodröm/Dreams (1955) and Tystnaden/The Silence (1963). In these films jazz is presented as derived from the corporeal body, as powerfully erotic and as culturally alien; it is also directly connected to a potentially destructive form of ‘modern’ female sexuality that is socially damaging. In each of the films this leads to social embarrassment, personal failure or even tragedy for the characters involved. The article considers the relationship between Bergman’s use of jazz to express distaste for modernity in relation to the cultural and social transformation of Sweden during the post-war period, and argues that the director’s attitude to the genre reflected a broader, often racist, approach to American popular culture generally and to African American music specifically within Swedish intellectual life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-99
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Arts


  • African American music
  • American popular culture
  • Post-war Sweden
  • Modernity
  • Swedish welfare state
  • Jazz
  • Feminine sexuality
  • Ingmar Bergman


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