Monday, November 9, 2015

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Stig Björkman's Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words highlights the potent dichotomies—a deep-seated sense of melancholy and an equally strong joie de vivre, watchful shyness and magnetic charisma—that, combined with the Swedish-born Ingrid Bergman's relatively unmediated beauty, made the actress luminescent both on and off screen. It also anatomizes the contradictions—a determination to lead an authentic, earthy life versus a love of Hollywood-style glamour, and a strong nesting instinct contrasted with a compulsion to uproot herself every decade or so—that made her a dearly loved, but mostly absent, presence in her own family life.

The sadness that shaded her best performances is never far from the surface in Björkman's poignant documentary, which starts with an excerpt from Bergman's diary about the awful year the then 14-year-old had just endured. Her beloved father died, and so did her grandfather, one of her friends, an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin. As we later learn, Bergman's mother died when she was just three and two older siblings died long before she was born.

It's easy to imagine how that trauma might have taught young Ingrid not to trust family ties, or impressed upon her the need to seize the day, but the film respects Bergman too much to pathologize her hunger for new and exciting experiences by offering up pat theories. Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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