Young Ingmar Bergman: Talented Liar


[Young Ingmar Bergman] was frequently punished. When he wet his bed, which he did chronically, he was forced to wear a red skirt for the entire day; minor infractions of family rules meant that the child was temporarily 'frozen out,' meaning that 'no one spoke or replied to you'; serious misdemeanors were met with thrashings, which were carried out with a carpetbeater in his father's study. 'When the punishment quota had been established, a hard green cushion was fetched, trousers and underpants taken down, you prostrated yourself over the cushion, someone held firmly onto your neck and the strokes were administered," Bergman writes. "After the strokes had been administered, you had to kiss Father's hand, at which forgiveness was declared and the burden of sin fell away, deliverance and grace ensued.'

"Inevitably, in an environment ruled by caprice and control, Bergman became a showoff and a wily fabulist. 'I was a talented liar,' Bergman says. In 'Fanny and Alexander' he repeats the true story of telling his school class that his mother had sold him to the circus."

[Young Ingmar Bergman so despised his bullying older brother, Dag, that he once tried to set his bed on fire.]

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