From marriage gossips to on-screen magnetism, a documentary about Ingrid Bergman praises an actor who systematically refused expectations
Nearly 20 years ago, I went to stay with my husband in a house owned by the family of Roberto Rossellini, the great neorealist Italian film director. We wasted our daytimes as “youre doing when you” find yourself in an idyllic hideout in the Italian sunshine: learning; lying by the reserve; watching the lamp through the trees. And I thought about Ingrid Bergman, who must have visited this secluded villa at a time when her life was in free fall.
Its hard now to envisage the kind of gossip Bergman made when she became pregnant with Rossellinis child, while still married to her first spouse Petter Lindstrm. She wasnt only a bride, she was a mother, and had left her daughter Pia behind when she went off to Italy to work with Rossellini. The resentment was scalding. Bergman news jolts Hollywood like an A Bomb squawked one newspaper headline, neatly mixing two of the most important point news items of 1949.
In the US, religious groups began a campaign to ban her cinemas on the grounds that they glorified adultery. In Italy, she and Rossellini were followed everywhere by paparazzi, their companions for the rest of their hectic life together.
I was a danger for American femininity, she told an interviewer, year later. Even my voice over the radio was supposed to be dangerous. Of track I was hurt, but I didnt think that what I had done was so much other peoples business … If you dont like the performance, you can walk out, but to criticise peoples private life, I thought was wrong.
That rebellious statement of intent is quoted in Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words , a new documentary film directed against Stig Bjrkman that tells the story of one of Hollywoods most enduring starrings. It sucks on her journals, characters and interrogations, interspersed with residence movies, and peeks of the actor in all her screen splendor, from her Swedish introduction in 1935 to her Hollywood heyday in the 1940 s to her final characters nearly 40 year later. It is a disclosing insight into the status of women who consistently refused expectations.