Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

 

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The latest documentary to take a noted film star as its subject offers a revealing portrait of Ingrid Bergman.

 

Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words

 

Go by the title and you might reasonably assume that what distinguishes Stig Björkman's film about Ingrid Bergman from other comparable works about film personalities is the fact that he has allowed Bergman, who died in 1982, to tell her own story. Indeed the title is not misleading  since, voiced by Alicia Vikander, we have substantial extracts from Bergman's diaries and from letters to friends as well as actual clips from interviews given by her. In fact the personal element goes even further since, following the example of her father who died when she was in her teens, Ingrid would regularly take pictures and these home movies make a substantial contribution here.

 

But, while that is unusual, it is not what makes Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words such a distinctive piece. Despite some unexpected omissions, we do get to see extracts from many of her films: they range from her early work in Sweden to her rewarding late association with that other Bergman - Ingmar - on Autumn Sonata and for the most part are presented chronologically. Nevertheless, even though there are worthwhile comments from Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver, Bergman's career provides background rather than anything more. With major contributions from Bergman's four children, the foreground is given over to a study of the actress as a person.

 

Bergman emerges as a driven woman, somebody soon anxious to move onto a world stage and a bird of passage who would at intervals leave her former life behind always seeking some happiness but never being satisfied for long. When looking back she expresses few regrets and her children found her fun, more a friend than a mother, but nevertheless a woman who was often absent because when not acting she felt only half alive. Her unhappy childhood due to her father's death and to the even earlier demise of her mother  doubtless influenced her behaviour. She believed in living for the moment, an attitude that contributed to her deserting her first husband to marry the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini following an affair with him. That scandal, a headliner in its day, is well known, but less familiar altogether is the complex character of Bergman herself and that is what this fascinating, if slightly overlong, film is all about.                  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

  

Featuring Pia Lindström, Roberto Rossellini, Ingrid Rossellini, Isabella Rossellini, Fiorella Mariani, Liv Ullmann, Sigourney Weaver, Jeanine Basinger and with the voice of Alicia Vikander. 

 

Dir Stig Björkman, Pro Stina Gardell, Written by Stig Björkman, Stina Gardell and Dominika Daubenbüchel, Ph Malin Korkeasalo, Ed Daubenbüchel, Music Michael Nyman. 


Mantaray Film/ZDF/Arte/Jonas Gardell Produktion-Soda Pictures.
114 mins. Sweden/Germany/The Netherlands/Finland/Norway. 2015. Rel: 12 August 2016. Cert. PG
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