By Jean-Marie Klinkenberg
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These films, of course, destroy that image: they make much more sense as metaphors for the difficulties experienced by young people in coming to terms with adult life and society. Indeed, in a conversation with Mikael Timm and myself, Erland Josephson, himself a huge figure on the Swedish dramatic scene, and a friend and professional collaborator of Bergman's going back to their earliest professional days, insists, "we were not rebels in that sense at all. It didn't enter Ingmar's mind to want to try to change Svensk Filmindustri [the leading film company].
The parents, unself-consciously in love, play with their infant. In the midst of this little (holy) scene, Mia hands the Knight a bowl of wild strawberries and a bowl of milk, for that is all she has to offer. No small offering, as it turns out; for Bergmanians would soon get to know that that was indeed Bergman's symbol par excellence for the poignantly short Swedish summer in the archipelago, and more too: for the earth's fruitfulness, young love, the life force itself. 16 SUMMER As Jof plays the lute, softly singing a love song to Jesus Christ and springtime, the Knight raises the scooped-out dish in a gesture straight out of the offertory, consecration, and communion ritual of the Christian Mass.
Mikael sleeping, Jof with his lute. I'll try to remember what we have talked about. I'll carry this memory between my hands as if it were a bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk. 1 The Seventh Seal may have been situated in fourteenth-century Sweden but to us, a North American audience in the late fifties, it was today. And the Knight's pilgrimage, through a countryside devastated by a post-Crusades Black Death, rampant evil, and religious fanaticism, felt strangely relevant to our own apocalyptic times, haunted as we were by images of the death camps and a cold war threatening nuclear holocaust.