Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words – DVD Review

Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words is an astonishing treasure trove of home movies shot by glamorous Swedish born movie star Ingrid Bergman. This is mixed in with correspondence and of course clips of the star’s films as well. The film is narrated by Alicia Vikander who reads from Bergman’s correspondence which are letters and diaries. Vikander is also Swedish but has made her name in British and American films like Bergman many decades earlier. Peter Greenaway’s go to composer Michael Nyman adds an excellent score to the proceedings as well.

The film is mostly told through the letters and diaries but some talking heads used as well of her children which includes the equally talented actress Isabella Rossellini and her oldest daughter Pia Lindström who became a famous television journalist. Due to the family’s co-operation with the project it’s a mixture of a “puff piece” and getting something resembling a “warts and all” portrait of Bergman. Her offspring are pretty brutally honest that Bergman wasn’t really there for them but counter that with say when she was she was the best mother you could ever want.

It’s a fascinating document of a very different time, her affair with Roberto Rossellini became an international scandal at the time. The firestorm came simply because she fell in love with another man and they had a child before they were married, a serious taboo at the time. There is extraordinary footage of pundits discussing her affair on National Television and it seriously damaged her American film career. She left for Italy permanently at this time and later on moved to lived in France and England till her death.

She did have an American “comeback” with Anastasia in 1956  which she won her second oscar and remains one of only 6 actors to win more than 3 or more acting Oscars, Katherine Hepburn has the record with 4 wins . She was never fully embraced by Hollywood as she once was and kept doing mostly European productions while only occasionally doing a Hollywood picture. She fulfilled one of his biggest dreams of working Ingmar Bergman (no relation) in Autumn Sonata which was her last theatrically released film.

Ingrid Bergman remains one of the most glamorous of all Old Hollywood movie stars, who had an extraordinary body of work. She was also one of the most single-minded women of her time, he never felt the need to wear makeup if she didn’t feel like it, she would have as many affairs as she wanted and would just move to another country even if it damaged her career. She was a feminist icon in a period where many women just conformed to the social expectations. All of this told in this fascinating document of her life which expertly blends all the materials the filmmaker Stig Björkman had at his disposal.

The film is sadly released only on DVD and not Blu-Ray which is too common a case for documentaries in the UK. The special features are mostly more of the wonderful home movies. The disc also includes a clip from her first film Landskamp, newsreels. The meat however a whole episode of the anthology series Stimulantia that Bergman appeared. That episode The Necklace, included here.


Ian Schultz

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