Documentary Review: “Ingrid Bergman: in Her Own Words” (2015) ★★★★★


Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is one of those documentary films where the filmmaker allows its subject to tell its own story. Luckily for us, Ingrid Bergman kept all archival footages, even her passports as a child, diaries, and the first day of her appearance as an extra which makes this film even more intriguing to watch. This is an incredible journey back in time, where we find out about the screen icon more than we could anticipate. Filmmaker Stig Björkman brings Bergman’s four children, Pia, Roberto, Ingrid and Isabella Rossellini onto the project to share their memories about their mother. However, it’s Ingrid Bergman, who tells us her life story through the voice of a rising star of Sweden, Alicia Vikander.

The film begins on quite a sad note, where we find a twelve-year-old Ingrid Bergman reading her diary. The memory she shares with her “best friend” is touching, deep and so heartbroken, that perhaps if the diary had the ability to cry, it would certainly do so. After sometime, her ambitious and big dreams bring her into film factory, where she starts with little roles. But her talent was so obvious, that Hollywood starts fighting for her. Meantime, as Bergman continues reading her diary and letters to her friends, you find out how determined and an intellectual human being she was. But perhaps, the most ironic part of the film was, when Bergman reads her letter to her husband, Peter, where she asks him never leave her, while she promises to do the same. However, she finds it impossible to keep her promise after meeting Roberto Rossellini.

While the film touches upon Bergman’s personal life, we find how the world reacts to the icon’s decision, when she leaves her husband and a little daughter Pia, for another man. That of course disappoints Bergman so deeply that she refuses to return to Hollywood to the place that cared about her personal life more than her work. Fortunately for us, her artistic nature was so strong, that she continued making films in Europe with Rossellini. But in 1956, it seemed the world and Hollywood were ready to forgive Bergman for her right to live the way she wanted, by celebrating her major comeback with an Academy Award for outstanding portrayal of “Anastasia”, directed by Anatole Litvak.

The best thing that you will learn about Ingrid Bergman is that she was like a wandering bird in search of a place where she finally can put down her roots. The roots, that could have been in any part of the world, but she chooses her own. Despite having a long list of iconic films, through Bergman’s letters you will perhaps hear a most known fact about her, that she loved acting and movies more than anything else. However, she never forgot to live her life to the fullest; free from prejudices and be able to be free to choose a life she wanted live in.

Stig Björkman contributes significantly by bringing back Ingrid Bergman onto our silver screen. The screenplay is so well written, that it leaves no gap, but only a feeling of joy, and excitement about the journey you as a viewer are about to embark.  It’s the extraordinary story of a woman who becomes a movie icon not because somebody made her that way but through her own dedication and love for cinema that made her travel all the way from Europe to the United States to conquer the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Bergman once said that she was the shyest creature in the world, but she had a lion inside her that wouldn’t keep quiet. Well, we all must be grateful to that lion that made her do what she did, as now we can enjoy watching this documentary film knowing, to love what you do is what will make you go as far as possible, the way it happened with the great Ingrid Bergman.

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