In­grid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Jonathan Richards

In­grid Bergman never threw any­thing away. As her life trans­formed through chap­ters and changes, and she moved through dif­fer­ent hus­bands and lovers and con­ti­nents and coun­tries, she took with her ac­cu­mu­lat­ing boxes of fam­ily pho­to­graphs, reels of home movies, and her di­aries and jour­nals.

At the in­sti­ga­tion of Bergman’s daugh­ter Is­abella Ros­sellini, and with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the ac­tress’s other chil­dren and friends, Swedish di­rec­tor Stig Björk­man has fash­ioned a warm and in­ti­mate por­trait of the woman who won Amer­ica’s heart with her en­chant­ing smile and poignant aura of mys­tery in movies like Casablanca; lost it when she fled Hol­ly­wood and hus­band for a ca­reer, af­fair, mar­riage, and chil­dren (not strictly in that or­der) with Ital­ian di­rec­tor Roberto Ros­sellini; and then won it again as time and evolv­ing stan­dards healed the wounds she’d in­flicted on the pu­ri­tan Amer­i­can psy­che. A painfully amus­ing clip shows TV host Ed Sul­li­van ask­ing his au­di­ence to vote on whether she’d suf­fered enough, and should be wel­come on his show.

The ti­tle prom­ises Bergman’s own words, and we get them through pas­sages from her di­aries read in Swedish in a gen­tle, melan­choly-tinged voice-over by her na­tive coun­try’s new su­per­star, Ali­cia Vikan­der. The ear­li­est ones are heart­break­ing, as twelve-year-old In­grid prays to God to spare her beloved father, dy­ing of can­cer. Her prayers go unan­swered, and she finds her­self a shy or­phaned teenager who turns to her school’s drama club as a means of es­cape.

Stage roles and then Swedish movies led her to Hol­ly­wood, with a con­tract from David O. Selznick. She put in 10 years there, go­ing from star-struck in­no­cent to vet­eran pro, much of this re­counted in let­ters to her best friend Mol­lie in Swe­den. “It’s in­cred­i­ble,” she writes breath­lessly, “when your dreams come true.”

There’s very lit­tle anal­y­sis of the process and tech­nique that went into her films. We get her im­pres­sions of co-stars like Cary Grant ( No­to­ri­ous,

In­dis­creet), a won­der­ful guy, and Humphrey Bog­art ( Casablanca), in­ter­est­ing and not a typ­i­cal Hol­ly­wood pretty boy. We hear about her di­rec­tors, with at least one of whom, Vic­tor Flem­ing ( Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Joan of Arc) she had an af­fair. She also had a pas­sion­ate af­fair with the pho­tog­ra­pher Robert Capa.

The main thrust is on In­grid Bergman the woman, as seen through a wealth of home movies and in­ter­views with all four chil­dren: Pia Lind­ström, from her first mar­riage, and the Ros­selli­nis — Roberto, and the twins In­grid and Is­abella. She didn’t spend much time with them, but they all re­mem­ber her with love and af­fec­tion.

Bergman was al­ways rest­less. “There is a bird of pas­sage in­side me, al­ways want­ing more,” she says, and her life was a cel­e­bra­tion of the idea that ful­fill­ment is found by fol­low­ing your pas­sions.

“I re­gret the things I didn’t do, not what I did,” she tells a reporter. “I was given courage, and I was given a sense of ad­ven­ture. And that has car­ried me along, with a sense of hu­mor and a lit­tle bit of com­mon sense. And it’s been a very rich life.”

No­to­ri­ous: In­grid Bergman

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