Media Times| Stormy Weather: The Pre- and Post-History of Television
This article examines Ingmar Bergman’s first (and only) television adaptations of dramatist August Strindberg: The Storm (1960) and A Dream Play (1963). Both were broadcast live and favorably received by contemporary critics. A recurrent reaction was that television finally “did justice” to these plays from the early 20th century; implying, as did Raymond Williams in his 1974 book on television, that Strindberg’s later drama somehow “anticipated” television. This claim is explored in relation to various thematic and formal expressions of temporality in both plays (motifs of enclosed spaces, telephones, clouds, and faces and the dialectics of progress and repetition) and the specificities of television (the “management of liveness,” “mobile privatization,” monitoring, etc.). The type of historicity involved in the claim that art may anticipate oncoming media technology is related to Walter Benjamin’s notion of pre- and post-history.