Abstract

This article offers an integrative, developmental reading of a major theme in Bergman's lifelong cinematic work, namely filial relationships, particularly father-child relations. By examining Bergman's films from a life-span developmental perspective, I show how the basic conflict is represented and reconstructed in a cumulatively evolving manner, reflecting a correlation of style and age. The analysis focuses on three films, each epitomizing a different age-related style, that center on filial relationships: Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander and Saraband. While the early and middle phases demonstrate the possibility of filial reconciliation in the form of personal life-review (Wild Strawberries) or mutual empathy (Fanny and Alexander), the late phase emphasizes bare feelings and unadorned, painful honesty, characteristic of the old-age style of the octogenarian Bergman. I conclude by discussing the dialectics of the three films/phases as representing a shift from psychological ego-integrity and life review (Wild Strawberries) through anthropological bricolage (Fanny and Alexander) to sociological disengagement (Saraband).

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