The Redemption of Oedipus: A Discussion on the Father Images in Ingmar Bergman’s Films from 1953 to 1982

Ingmar Bergman Fatherhood Oedipus complex Patriarchy


  • Yue Chen School of European Languages, Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University College London, London, UK
March 17, 2023


The intention of this essay is to track the evolving father characters in Ingmar Bergman’s films through three decades. By case studying the constitution of father characters in Summer with Monica (1953), Wild Strawberries (1957), Fanny and Alexander (1982) and textual analyzing the context from the biography and interviews of Ingmar Bergman, this essay would capture the recurring features of those father images and reveal how they vary not only along with the promotion of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment at the societal level but also following Bergman’s paradoxical process of struggling from rebelling against to reconciling with fatherhood. It is noteworthy that a growing yearning for reconciliation has occurred in Bergman’s films since 1953, compared with the hateful spiritual patricide reflected in those earlier works. By referring to Kohut’s (1984) reconceptualization of the Freudian Oedipus complex, this essay would exhibit this trajectory of transforming father images in Bergman’s film as a journey of self-redemption, and confirm that Bergman has reconciled with his paternal dilemma and himself within Fanny and Alexander.