Fascinating news — Ingmar Bergman’s niece has uncovered evidence that he was not biologically related to the woman who raised him. Let’s assume this is true — DNA samples were taken from envelopes old Ingmar had mailed, so as long as he did his own envelope-licking, the case seems airtight. If Ingmar did employ an underling to do his epistolary tongue-work, can I suggest that the flunky concerned be know henceforth as “the Seventh Seal”? But if such a person existed, all the DNA evidence shows is that Ingmar’s hired tongue wasn’t related to Ingmar’s mother. Which would have been unlikely anyhow.
The theory put forward by Ingmar’s niece is that possibly his mother’s natural child was stillborn and the infant Ingmar was shunted in as body double, the way you switch goldfish on a small child when the original goes belly up. It could have happened that way. Further investigation is anticipated.
Had Ingmar stayed with his own parents, he could have avoided the awkwardness of sounding confusingly similar to Ingrid Bergman, which would have been a handicap anywhere but Sweden, where everybody seems to have terribly similar, generic, Swedish names.
A Facebook commenter immediately announced, facetiously, “This explains his entire body of work!” but you know, in a way IT DOES. Bergman seems to have always felt somewhat distant from his parents. As a child he was punished for telling schoolmates that his parents had sold him to a circus. He always felt he should have been rewarded for showing such imagination. The whole incident points to a sensation of not belonging.
We can at least agree that the directly autobiographical aspects of Bergman’s filmmaking, such as FANNY AND ALEXANDER, can be said to bear the stamp of this emotional dislocation. Children can sense this stuff.
Meanwhile, here is Norma Shearer starring in the 1930s MGM version of PERSONA ~