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In spring 2011, director Stig Björkman meets Ingrid Bergman's daughter Isabella Rossellini and she suggests him to "make a film about Mama". Through Isabella, Stig is able to tell Ingrid's story through her own words and images. Seven time Academy Award-nominee and three time Academy Award-winner Ingrid Bergman was one of the most talented actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age with great performances in films such as CASABLANCA (1942), GASLIGHT (1944) and and AUTUMN SONATA (1978). Through never-before-seen private footage, notes, letters, diaries and interviews with her children, this documentary presents a personal portrait and captivating look behind the scenes of the remarkable life of a young Swedish girl who became one of the most celebrated actresses of American and World cinema.
Ingrid Bergman – "In Her Own Words" (2015) Ingrid Bergman was a rare and brave woman, and she was of course a big and genuine actress of the very few who lived and died for art no matter the consequences for herself, her children and her husbands.
This documentary is not bad, but it's not successful either. The reason why is that the documentary is simply too private, it does not become interesting to a larger audience. It's mainly private film footage (8 and 16 mm) and diary quotations over and over again. And we see and listen to Ingrid's children telling the same – more or less – again and again, and not one single bad or negative thing is said about their mother. I was not convinced. The documentary runs for 114 minutes and sadly it feels like 228 minutes.
What have Stig Bjökman (the writer and director), Dominika Daubenbüchel and Stina Gardell been thinking about? This documentary would have been complete and beautifully put together IF it have had at least 3 blocks of montages with clips from Bergman's greatest parts. We got nearly 8 seconds from "Casablanca" and that was it!!! We should have SEEN and WATCHED Ingrid in Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious" and "Spellbound" – not someone telling us about her acting in these movies! And we should have seen clips with Ingrid and Cary Copper in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" or seen Ingrid afraid to be insane in "Gaslight" or Ingrid together with Goldie Hawn in "Cactus Flower" – and I could go on and on! But we didn't. There's a saying that goes: "don't tell, show!" someone is this production should have whispered this saying to Stig Björkman.
It's not until the last 10 minutes that this documentary really speeds up and get's very interesting when we meet Sigourney Weaver, Isabella Rossellini and Liv Ullmann. Weaver recalls what it was like being on stage with Ingrid in her first professional job was as an understudy in Sir John Gielguds production of "The Constant Wife". Liv Ullmann is telling us about how Ingrid and Ingmar Bergman left the set when they were making "Autumn Sonata", because they could not agree on how a dialog should be. All on the set could still hear them quarrel very loudly. Bergman and Bergman came back, Ingmar got his will and they all continued. Now that would have been interesting to see and hear much more of, especially because the movie was about a mother abandon her children for the art.
What a shame, because Ingrid and we have deserved much much more.
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