Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ingrid Bergman, Up Close and Personal

Swedish director Stig Bjorkman has assembled a documentary that pays tribute to one of the screen's greatest stars, Ingrid Bergman. Using letters Bergman wrote to friends, as well as interviews with her children, Bjorkman fashions Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, a bio-doc that reminds us of two things: How breathtakingly beautiful Bergman was on screen and what an independent spirit she was off camera. Fortunately, for Bjorkman (and us) Bergman took lots of home movies that show her in a variety of settings. Bergman's letters and portions of her diaries are read by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who intensifies Bergman's presence in the film. Bergman's life wasn't always easy: She was three when her mother died and 12 when her father passed away. She had a busy romantic life, and survived a major scandal when she had a child with Italian director Roberto Rossellini before the two were married -- to each other, that is. Suddenly, the angel of the cinema became the whore of the tabloids. Bergman and Rossellini had three children, including actress Isabella Rossellini. Retired television journalist Pia Lindstrom, also interviewed in the film, was the child of Bergman and Swedish surgeon Petter Lindstrom. Because of career-induced absences Bergman probably didn't qualify as the ideal mother, but her children mostly speak fondly of her. They seem to remember her more as a fun friend than a parent. As we learn, Bergman may have had only one abiding love in her life -- the camera. No wonder, then, that she talks reverentially of working with Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock. For a time, she really was living the dream -- and millions of moviegoers lived it with her.

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