Today: February 27, 2024

God and the Devil: The Life and Work of Ingmar Bergman

Peter Cowie’s God and the Devil is the first biography of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman in 40 years.

Written by a critic and biographer who knew many of Bergman’s collaborators, personally, God and the Devil chronicles the iconic director’s life and sixty-year film and stage career. Containing exclusive extracts from his diaries, production workbooks, and letters, Peter Cowie encyclopaedic volume brings us as close to the man — and the artist — as we are likely to get.

Over the course of his career, Bergman produced over one hundred and fifty stage productions and over fifty feature films, including The Seventh Seal, Smiles of a Summer Night, Persona, and his final masterpiece, Fanny and AlexanderEver present were the themes of love, sex, and betrayal — with the figure of Death hovering overhead.

Blending biographical information with critical comment, Cowrie presents a man whose life and work were intimately fused, and not always easy to untangle.

God and the Devil: The Life and Work of Ingmar Bergman, runs to 408 pages, but there isn’t an millimetre of padding or unnecessary verbiage. Instead, what Cowrie delivers is crisp copy, infused with just the right level of detail. And, while Cowrie appears to be a fan, he doesn’t attempt to cover up the more unsavoury aspects of Bergman’s life, from his teenage admiration of Hitler and Nazi politcis, to his treatment of the women in his life. The result is a book that’s sure to become the definitive Bergman biography. 

Peter Cowie began writing about the cinema while at Cambridge in the early ‘60s. In 1963, he founded the annual International Film Guide, which he edited for four decades. He is the author of more than thirty books, including studies of Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, and Akira Kurosawa.

God and the Devil: The Life and Work of Ingmar Bergman (ISBN 9780571370900) by Peter Cowie, is published by Faber. Priced £30 in hardback, God and the Devil is released on 2nd November and available for pre-order now.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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