Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words
17th October 2015 12.00pm at BFI Southbank
18th October 2015 6.00pm at Curzon Mayfair
Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words is a documentary film by Stig Björkman. Released exactly 100 years after her birth, this film pays homage to Ingrid Bergman, an individual whose luminous smile and passion for her work made her one of the most celebrated actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The celebrities of Bergman’s generation are shrouded in a sense of mystery and glamour annihilated by the Internet, making this insight into her life all the more intriguing and absorbing.
Björkman’s film defies the conventional formula of biographical documentaries: Bergman’s story is not told through hand-me-down accounts, childhood friends, or biographers; the actress’s experiences are not the usual regurgitated conjecture too often inflicted on viewers by this genre, but a fresh, honest account told in, quite literally, Ingrid’s own words. As it turns out, the award-winning actress seems to have had a way with the written word. Letters and diary excerpts are read by Alicia Vikander’s honey-toned voice in the actress’s native Swedish tongue. We hear of Bergman’s hopes and fears; her private thoughts and emotions as revealed to those who were closest to her. This, combined with accounts given by her children, makes for a poignant and intensely human description of the actress in her work, relationships, and role as a mother of four.
The footage itself is almost entirely composed of private reels of film shot of and largely by the actress herself, and is seamlessly stitched together into a beautifully candid portrait of the star. Having been captured on small hand-held cameras such as Super 8s, the faded colours, soft focus, and grainy texture of much of the footage imbues the whole with a distinctive air of nostalgia.
The film is unwavering in its sensitively captured tone, disarmingly honest, making it all the more sympathetic. Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words has the potential to be both accessible and fascinating to viewers familiar with Bergman’s career, as well as those who might only boast of a tangential familiarity with her work. Michael Nyman’s music threads the film together with beautiful melodies which strike just the right balance between melancholy, and a little sweep of passion and drama. It’s rare that a documentary should leave you wanting more, but Björkman seems to have managed just that.
Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words is released nationwide on 13th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words here: