Friday, March 11, 2016

Ingrid Bergman In her Own Words (orig. Jag är Ingrid) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing

Cinematographe (M. Bordino) review* (D. Catelli) review*
The Hollywood Reporter (D. Young) review

Ingrid Bergman In her Own Words (orig. Jag är Ingrid) [2015] (directed and cowritten by Stig Björkman along with Dominika Daubenbüchel and Stina Gardel) is a quite fascinating and surprisingly intimate SWEDISH DOCUMENTARY about the life of world-renowned Swedish-born actress / screen legend Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) [wikip] [IMDb].  The film played recently at the 19th (2016) Chicago European Union Film Festival held here at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

Making extensive use of Ingrid Bergman's own diaries, correspondence, HOME MOVIES (apparently _she loved making home movies_) and extensive interviews with her four children Pia Lindström, Roberto Ingmar Rossellini,  Isabella Rossellini and Isotta Ingrid Rossellini as well as various friends, the film offers a remarkable view into the life of the actress who was both renown even beloved for her work, but at times quite shocking / notorious in her time in her personal life:

Her marriage to her first husband Petter Lindström (a Swedish doctor who during the war years had moved with their first child to the States to follow/support her in her career) ended in divorce in 1950 after she got pregnant in the midst of an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini [wikip] [IMDb] while filming in Europe.   Her second marriage, to Rossellini, which produced her other three children ended in divorce in 1957 after several not-particularly-successful movie projects together, and Rossellini entering into an affair with an Indian screenwriter Sonali Das Gupta while he was filming in India.  Bergman married a third time to Lars Schmidt, a Swedish theatrical producer, who seemed to be something of a Godsend with the Rossellini kids, and with whom she remained married for nearly 2 decades prior to divorcing in 1975.  Bergman died in 1982.

It is on her quite complex personal history that this film is mostly about, though her many films serve as markers in time to help us the audience better appreciate when what was happening in her life at the time.  It's an interesting choice -- to focus more on her personal / family life rather than on her storied career.  It it also makes her more relateable because while very few of us will ever have the professional success that Ingrid Bergman experienced, all of us have experience with managing challenges, temptations, disappointments and failings at home.  

It appeared that pretty much all four of her children have fond memories of both her and their fathers though they also were aware that their circumstances both not necessarily ideal at times and yet still certainly more fortunate than most others who'd find themselves in similar situations.  For example, there was a time in their lives when the three Rosselini children actually lived in Italy in essentially "a kinderhouse" (run by a number of caretakers and equipped with just about everything that a group of kids could want ... while BOTH parents - Ingrid and Roberto - worked on professional projects "far away" -- Ingrid in Paris (so she could "drop by" at least once a month) and Roberto way out in India (so his visits "home" would come far less frequently).

Again, all admitted that this was not exactly an ideal situation, but all her children, including Pia from Ingrid's first marriage remembered their mother as being someone who was fun / outgoing (with them) to have around, someone who was more "a friend" than perhaps a traditional mother.

A lot of us hearing this would both "cringe a bit", and yet also understand (somewhat) as well.  Many, many parents in divorce situations try to do the same.

In any case, the film offers a quite _fascinating glimpse_ into the life of a _very successful (professionally) professional woman_ and does offer Viewers the opportunity to reflect on the choices that she made (and that _we all make_) in managing our relationships and careers.

Hence this proves a quite excellent and thoughtful film.

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