— Ingmar Bergman Swedish filmmaker 1918 - 2007
Context: Now let's get this Devil business straight, once and for all. To begin at the beginning: the notion of God, one might say, has changed aspect over the years, until it has either become so vague that it has faded away altogether or else has turned into something entirely different. For me, hell has always been a most suggestive sort of place; but I've never regarded it as being located anywhere else than on earth. Hell is created by human beings — on earth!
What I believed in those days — and believed in for a long time — was the existence of a virulent evil, in no way dependent upon environmental or hereditary factors. Call it original sin or whatever you like — anyway an active evil, of which human beings, as opposed to animals, have a monopoly. Our very nature, qua human beings, is that inside us we always carry around destructive tendencies, conscious or unconscious, aimed both at ourselves and at the outside world.
As a materialization of this virulent, indestructible, and — to us — inexplicable and incomprehensble evil, I manufactured a personage possessing the diabolical traits of a mediaeval morality figure. In various contexts I'd made it into a sort of private game to have a diabolic figure hanging around. His evil was one of the springs in my watch-works. And that's all there is to the devil-figure in my early films... Unmotivated cruelty is something which never ceases to fascinate me; and I'd very much like to know the reason for it. Its source is obscure and I'd very much like to get at it.
Torsten Manns interview <!-- p. 40 -->