Sexual Antagonism in Early Bergman

  • Peter Cowie


THE PUBLICATION, in 1987, of Bergman's autobiography, The Magic Lantern, and the release, at Christmas 1991, of Bille August's The Best Intentions (Den goda viljan) have cast a new light on the human relationships in those films directed by Bergman prior to 1951. The example of his parents' marriage, achieved against severe odds and then deteriorating into sullen, armed neutrality, manifestly affected Bergman and his attitudes to the sexual bonding between man and woman. If in old age he has at last felt able to articulate and analyse his parents' relationship, as a young man he sought to sublimate these acute personal memories into not only the films he directed but also the screenplays he wrote for others. "My parents lived in an exhausting, permanent state of crisis with neither beginning nor end," he wrote in The Magic Lantern. "They fulfilled their duties, they made huge efforts, appealing to...