Hid­den Bergman ‘mas­ter­piece’ to hit Swedish movie screens

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Dis­cov­ered in Ing­mar Bergman’s ar­chive, a pre­vi­ously un­known man­u­script about sex­ual and so­cial rev­o­lu­tion in the 1960s is to be turned into a movie, nearly a decade af­ter the Swedish di­rec­tor’s death. “Six­ty­four min­utes with Re­becka,” writ­ten by the leg­endary film­maker when he was aged 51, was found in 2002 when Bergman do­nated his work to an in­sti­tute in his name, shelved among thou­sands of let­ters, com­pleted screen­plays and pho­to­graphs. “Find­ing an un­known but fin­ished Ing­mar Bergman screen­play would be the equiv­a­lent of find­ing a man­u­script by Hem­ing­way or if not Shake­speare,” Jan Holm­berg, head of the Ing­mar Ber­man Foun­da­tion, told AFP.

Known for broach­ing is­sues of death, lone­li­ness and re­li­gious self-doubt, Bergman por­trays the main char­ac­ter Re­becka as an emo­tion­ally alien­ated teacher of deaf mutes, seek­ing sex­ual and po­lit­i­cal lib­er­a­tion dur­ing the tu­mul­tuous 1960s. “This is the ma­ture artist at his very best, mak­ing one of his mas­ter­pieces,” Holm­berg said. The mar­ried Re­becka vis­its a sex club while she is preg­nant and de­cides to leave her for­giv­ing hus­band in the hand-writ­ten script, which touches on gay re­la­tion­ships, de­sire, guilt and men­tal suf­fer­ing.

Bergman, who was an in­tro­verted and conservative film­maker, por­trays the era’s fre­netic sex­ual and so­cial rev­o­lu­tion in the script, which was orig­i­nally meant to be a movie col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Bergman, Fed­erico Fellini and Akira Kuro­sawa, a trio of di­rect­ing giants.

Hol­ly­wood blow

Fellini had con­tacted Bergman in 1962 to ask if the Swedish di­rec­tor would be in­ter­ested in film­ing a joint movie series with Kuro­sawa, who years later dropped out for un­known rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to Holm­berg. In 1968, Bergman and Fellini signed a Hol­ly­wood con­tract to turn the script into a joint mo­tion pic­ture, but when the Ital­ian screen­writer did not keep his part of the agree­ment, Bergman was of­fered to di­rect the film by him­self. Suf­fer­ing a ma­jor blow to prof­its be­cause of the emer­gence and dom­i­nance of tele­vi­sion in the 1960s, the US film in­dus­try be­gan to di­ver­sify, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Euro­pean cin­ema.

Holm­berg said sev­eral let­ters sent back and forth be­tween Bergman and movie ex­ec­u­tives in­di­cated “an in­creas­ingly ir­ri­tated at­mos­phere, where the movie com­pa­nies sud­denly wanted the film to be longer than what had been thought ear­lier” to turn it into a TV series. He noted that the script has “many dar­ing sex scenes, ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and vi­o­lent sex­u­al­ity... which would never have been shown on Amer­i­can TV in the 60s”.

This file photo shows the Ing­mar Bergman archives lo­cated at the Film House in Stock­holm.

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