Language and disruption of the world: Ingmar Bergman’s account

  • Ilia Onegin
  • Daria Khokhlova
Keywords: Bergman, Piaget, Vygotsky, language, lifeworld


The disruption of the lifeworld is one of the most prominent themes in Bergman’s films. In this article, our research question is: How is the relationship between the internal and the external constructed in Bergman’s films? We will consider how Bergman’s account of language explicates the aforementioned fracture. We suppose a framework based on his “language theory” may reveal the structure of the seemingly irrational lifeworld of Bergman’s characters. Attempting to reconstruct Bergman’s “theory of language”, we consider two psychological approaches to language: Jean Piaget’s theory of “egocentric” and “socialized speech” and Lev Vygotsky’s theory of “internal” and “external speech”. We argue that several stages, or situations, may be found in how Bergman’s characters perform various language modes of interaction. Thus, the lifeworld of children is similar to the playground in the unity of its ludic structure. Then, the distinction between the internal and the external appears in a speech in order to sustain one’s egocentric unity restricting the usage of language (for instance, refusing to talk to particular people). Another situation depicted by Bergman is the alienation of language which proceeds from the inability to confront the pressure exerted by the external “aggressor” on the lifeworld of the subject. The desire to express oneself in the illusionary reunion of the lifeworld is depicted in scenes when a conversation with a silent stranger enables free use of speech. It is especially highlighted that this reconstruction is rather a scheme of the internal “phenomenology” of Bergman’s films than a psychological account.


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How to Cite
Onegin, I. and Khokhlova, D. (2022) “Language and disruption of the world: Ingmar Bergman’s account”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 16(1). doi: 10.4396/20220604.