Greetings again from the darkness. Despite his being one of the most productive and influential filmmakers of all-time, it’s understandable if you are concerned that a biopic of Ingmar Bergman might be a bit dry or difficult to connect with … you know, kind of like his movies. The happy truth is that Margarethe von Trotta, Felix Moeller, and Bettina Bohler have collaborated on this very interesting dig inside the mind and process of this remarkable Swedish artist.
Mr. Bergman’s best known films include: THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957), WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957), PERSONA (1966), CRIES AND WHISPERS (1972), SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973), FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1982). It’s likely you have either seen all of these or none, but either way, as long as you have some interest in the history of cinema, you’ll be hooked on the multiple interviews and clips provided here.
Among those interviewed are actress Liv Ullman (she turns 80 this year), who appeared in 10 (she says 11) Bergman films. She cheerfully recalls the first time she met the director and how it led to their first collaboration, PERSONA. We also hear insight and personal stories from director and fellow Swede Ruben Ostlund (director of the terrific FORCE MAJEURE), Swedish documentarian Stig Bjorkman, and two of Bergman’s sons, Daniel and Ingmar Jr. On the personal side, we learn the legendary filmmaker was son to the Parson of a local church, married 5 different women and fathered 9 children via 6 women (his 5 wives plus Liv Ullmann), and that he wasn’t close to any of his children. He was described as viewing childhood through his own, rather than that of his kids. On his 60th birthday, there was an unusual gathering of all 9 children, many who had never previously met.
Maybe some of this is explained by Bergman’s own definition of art as “therapy for the artist”. This makes sense as so many discuss his insecurities and his own concerns with never being good enough. This despite a career of 50 plus films (many of which are studied in film classes) and nearly three times that many stage productions. Being wrongfully accused of tax evasion in 1976 affected his health and career, as well as his love of homeland Sweden. He moved to Germany before living out most of his life on the island of Faro – where he also filmed many movies.
The interviews presented here by Ms. Von Trotta (herself an accomplished filmmaker and actress) are each informative, though additional interviews from Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson (each appeared in 13 Bergman movies), and Woody Allen (the American filmmaker most closely associated with Bergman) would not just have added flavor, but were also kind of expected. The end result is that we view Bergman as the ultimate brooder, and one who had much respect and admiration for actors. Though he passed away in 2007 (the same day as director Antonioni), we are now even more convinced that Ingmar Bergman was a master of both the written word and on screen imagery.
watch the trailer: