I took a whirlwind trip on Amtrak to New England, last week. I went. I saw. I fell in love, with Ingrid Bergman…all over again.
Yep, that’s what happened when I went all the way to Kendall Square’s Landmark Cinema up in Cambridge, Massachusetts to see the documentary “Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words.” There’s truly no getting around falling in love with Ingrid Bergman…at least not in my humble opinion. It’s a forgone conclusion. Why would you fight it?
I don’t remember when I first saw an Ingrid Bergman movie. It was on tv and it probably was the classic “Casablanca.” Honestly, I don’t recall. I know I’ve seen much of her work…at least her Hollywood work. The first date I ever went on, my high school beau took me to the movies to see “Cactus Flower.” I wish I could say it was because of Ingrid, but it was probably Goldie Hawn that held sway with him and I. After she was thoroughly ensconced in my cinematic DNA, I did see Bergman on Broadway in “Captain Brassbound’s Conversion.” No, I can’t tell you what it was about. A missionary…a sea captain? I was there for only one reason…to see Her in person. To see that she existed.
Yeah, I had to make her real in that way, as an added bonus…even though she was already pretty real to me. She seemed so natural on screen. She truly sounded like she was talking and not reciting lines. She didn’t feel like a movie star. She felt like a real person on that screen. No doubt, I enjoy the divas and the showboats and the bombshells of my movie imagination. But I profess to you, and myself, Ingrid Bergman is my favorite actress.
The documentary…click photo for the trailer:
The documentary was very well made. We had the talking heads of Bergman’s actual children: Pia Lindstrom and Roberto, Isabella and Ingrid Rossellini. They have wonderful memories of their mother. You’ll get no Mommy Dearest anecdotes from them. You will see love, and some regrets ( “The only I think any of her children feel, is we wish we had more of her,” says first-born child ~ Pia Lindstrom. ) They know their Mother was not a Saint. But I see the understanding of children, now adults, who can put into perspective the totatlity of a woman’s life where she is torn between career and family; and where career won out for the most part. But that is not to say the children lost out, either.
The documentary was filled with excerpts of diary entries read aloud by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, movie clips, home movie footage, and footage from the Media of the time. Yes, the paparazzi was out in force to report the story of Bergman leaving husband Petter Lindström, pregnant with the child of director Roberto Rossellini; and WHEN she returned to Hollywood. Seeing her in movie moments in clips including “Casablanca” “Journey to Italy” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” show how she just illuminates the screen. Her warmth and naturalness come through like rays of sunshine on a warm summer’s day. She wanted to work with the different styles of other directors. It looks like that became a little difficult to achieve when she married Rossellini, who became territorial of her talent.
I liked learning that it was three women who took Ingrid under their wing in Hollywood: Ruth Roberts ( English coach ), Kay Brown – talent agent, and Irene Selznick, David O. Selznick’s wife. A strong bond with women.
Even in her first screen efforts you have to say “Who …is … THAT… girl?!” The thing that astounds me is all the photos and film footage of her as a child!!! How many families had cameras in 1917? No doubt she was a Daddy’s girl, who was allowed to use her imagination. She had so many losses in her young life which left her sad and lonely. I can’t help but think having her four children helped fill a void.
It’s also interesting that Bergman felt the need to keep moving around, explore…have no roots…not be tied down to one place…or one person. Not for too too long anyway. She carried her memories with her.
Eve, Me and Lita
I traveled to Cambridge with two good friends of mine ( Lita and Eve ) who spontaneously made this adventure with me. I’m a retiree but so my time is free, but for two working girls to take off from work takes a bit of maneuvering. They were game, we had fun, and here are their thoughts on the documentary:
“First, I find Ingrid very sexy, beautiful and attractive. She has that wonderful smile of hers that makes her angelic, if you will.
I would not get tired of looking at her.
I like her movies very much and thought she should have gotten more than two Oscars. I also like that she kept a lot of memoirs.
I believe she did everything she could as a mother and wife, but I believe her career was her drive, her purpose in life, something that she could not be without. Like she said, she would rather be dead than give up acting, or not be able to act at all.
The documentary really touched me in the way she sought life. It upset me how people can turn on you if you do not meet their expectations. But, she did what she did and she had no regrets.
Kudos to you, Ingrid Bergman!!!”
* * * * * * * *
“She Did It Her Way!
Before watching the documentary, ‘Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words,’ I thought I knew Ingrid Bergman’s story. I was wrong. Ingrid defied the cookie-cutter role society expected and demanded from her. When she refused to conform and bow down to the pressures, she paid the price, but my girl held steadfast and stayed true to herself. She portrayed many roles in film and on stage, as well as in real life, a wife, an ex-wife, a mother….. She knew exactly what she wanted and went after it, making no apologies or excuses to anyone.
To sum up Ingrid’s life, quoting from a verse in the song, ‘My Way’:
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway.
But more, much more than this
I did it my way.”
* * * * * * * *
Here are two shots I snuck off from the screen:
She’s comfortable in front of and behind the camera. As described in the documentary, the camera represented love; usually the love of the man behind the camera. Seeing Bergman’s life’s story up there, begs the larger question:
CAN A WOMAN HAVE IT ALL?
“I never had the intention of staying in Sweden. That I knew since the beginning.”
Can you have hearth and home, along with a career in a big way in the world? It’s the age-old question…that seems to be asked ONLY of women. Is it selfish to bring children into the world who need to be loved, nurtured and hands-on? And where does that leave you…your Self, your Creativity, your Passion and Drive. Who knows. My own experience is my mom married, had us three kids and stayed at home. Me? I never married nor had children. I think if you want to be happy within your own private self…you must be able to do what makes you happy. And if you’re a happier person…it, you, can make all around you happy. Mothers are already larger than Life in a child’s mind. What happens when your Mother IS world-famous and truly Larger Than Life?
Wife…actress…mother…lover. She had many lives within her 67 years. Ingrid Bergman feels very contemporary to me. Is it her look ( hairstyle? lack of makeup? ) Her natural acting style? I sat through much of the screening shaking my head at her beauty. Her warmth and naturalness shine through and touches my heart. Yeah, I was misty-eyed throughout.
I am so glad I made the trek up to Massachusetts. And that I was NOT alone in this madcap adventure. If you have any inclination…you can check out my trip here.
Check out my cine-pal’s review of the documentary ( LARA ). Both of us can’t be crazy in saying how much we enjoyed the film. I’m thinking you can see it without really knowing who Bergman is and still be able to follow the story of her life. I think it was laid out nicely and well-chronicled. After seeing the cocumentary, check out even more. See the documentary on the big screen. Her beauty and talent deserves to be seen larger than life.
[ H O M E ]