Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ingrid Bergman, seen here with her children, often had to balance her own compulsion to get behind the camera.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words
Directed by
Stig Björkman
Starring
Ingrid Bergman, Isabella Rossellini, Sigourney Weaver
Genre
Documentary
Country
Sweden
Language
English, Swedish
Year
2015

Last spring, Ingrid Bergman's face loomed large over the Cannes Film Festival on billboards that marked the centennial of the remarkable actress. Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is another such commemoration.

In Stig Björkman's documentary, the late silver-screen icon makes her first visit to the French resort town in 1937, before either was associated with Hollywood. It's Bergman's own footage, shot on a rainy day during her then-newlywed road trip with first husband Petter Lindström. Two years later, Bergman's first Hollywood screen test for David O. Selznick will be so dazzling and capture such breathtaking incandescence that the clapperboard must reassure producers that the Swedish ingenue wears "no makeup, no lip rouge."

From a young age, the camera reigned supreme in Bergman's life – her father owned a camera shop and photographed her often; she was seldom without her 16-millimetre camera (photos show her in costume, wielding it on set between takes). Bergman's eldest daughter, Pia Lindström, nails the movie's underlying theme, of how throughout her mother's life, "love came through a lens." Bergman constantly had to balance her own compulsion to get behind the lens and record her family and friends, until her death from breast cancer at the age of 67, in 1982.

Story continues below advertisement

Assemblage is how Björkman shows and tells the personal side of his eponymous subject. Although the title isn't strictly accurate – Bergman's four adult children weigh in throughout, as do a few others (Liv Ullmann, Sigourney Weaver) – the tribute is shaped by the performer's amateur footage, home movies, private diaries and correspondence with her lifelong friends (read by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in a confiding tone).

Restless and driven (in between pictures, Bergman writes, "only half of me is alive"), no sooner does her talent conquer Hollywood than she is beguiled by Europe and its postwar style of moviemaking. And one filmmaker in particular: Roberto Rossellini, who, like Bergman, was married when they collaborated and, to much scandal, fell in love.

The self-described "stubborn and wild" Bergman "went where the wind took her," according to daughter Pia, who as a teen remained behind in Los Angeles with her father (the acrimonious divorce and custody is glossed over), while Bergman and Rossellini's three children are later raised by nannies at a private nursery in Rome when both parents move on.

As daughter Ingrid explains how their father would regularly call to check in, a playful home movie of the children excitedly grabbing at a telephone plays, Bergman's visiting presence signalled as much by the fur coat flung in the background as by the footage's very existence.

If Bergman's drive, impulsiveness and wanderlust caused lasting hurt, she was easily forgiven; when son Roberto explains she was "more of a friend than a mother," it's with fondness. They chalk Bergman's lifelong interest in Joan of Arc up to her similarly heroic calling, to acting.

On paper that rationale hasn't always been the most convincing. But the explanation comes alive here – the screen, always Bergman's supreme medium, is proof of the power of her magnetic and energetic presence.

It shines through in even the grainiest, jumpy, out-of-focus home-movie footage.

Story continues below advertisement

As with her fans, she left them wanting more.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies