Master of Arts
In Fanny and Alexander, Bergman creates a fascist character who exhibits the characteristics he saw in Hitler. The Bishop Edvard Vergerus sweeps into the young Alexander’s life and begins to rule it with authoritarian aplomb. Rather than get swept up in Vergerus’s show of Truth and strength, however, Bergman has Alexander see past the “surface lustre” and understand Vergerus’s “darkness.” In so doing, Bergman rights a wrong from his childhood. Bergman goes still further, though, when he has Alexander fight back against the Nazi-esque Bishop through the power of creative storytelling. Bergman’s weapon against fascists is not just art but rather storytelling specifically, because storytelling requires a participatory audience that will take in the story and add their own imagination to it, creating a new vision of the world that melds the story and reality into one. Only then can the stories, following Richard Delgado’s “Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others,” “create their own bonds, represent cohesion, shared understandings, and meanings” and “shatter complacency and challenge the status quo” (2412, 2414). When Alexander tells stories that run counter to the Bishop’s own stories about his Truth and strength, Bergman documents these stories with an attention to the two audiences listening, the one in the film and the one watching the film. Because of this attention to the audience and its participation in the storytelling process, Fanny and Alexander represents a first for Bergman: a political film that asks its audience to tell counternarratives in an imitation of his storyteller so that they can avoid his mistake of becoming infatuated with a Nazi and instead fight fascism when its ideology and practices return.
Thompson, Alexander Scott, "This Story Kills Fascists: How Ingmar Bergman Atones for his Nazi Past and Looks to an Uncertain Future in Fanny and Alexander" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 2844.