Alexander Ahndoril - The Director (4 stars)

Alexander Ahndoril - The Director

(Portobello Books)


This novel portrait of an artist captures the late, great Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman at a crucial moment in his life, in 1961 when he was making the second film in his celebrated faith trilogy, Winter Light. Fighting to finish his film about a priest who loses his religion (which nobody wanted him to make), and struggling with his stern Lutheran minister father (who wanted his son to enter the church), Bergman is presented in a complex if not flattering light; he initially praised the book and subsequently damned it shortly before he died.

If Alexander Ahndoril’s psychological portrait isn’t black and white, his evocation of time and place is. Careful employment of his spare prose style — ‘[he] walks through a shadow the size of himself’ — recreates the bleak, eerie world of Bergman’s monochromatic films. In doing so, Ahndoril has produced a novel that’s austere and insightful, much like its subject’s great works of art.

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