With thoughts culled from her diary and letters to friends (narrated by Alicia Vikander), Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words is an intimate exploration of the Swedish actress and three-time Oscar winner (Gaslight, Anastasia and Murder on the Orient Express). Taking the viewer from the early thirties and her first foray into film, right up to the seventies, In Her Own Words worms its way into her thoughts on Hollywood, her work, her lovers and her children. Director Stig Bjorkman dots the running time with rare home movies and behind the scenes footage that will delight fans.
f her early Hollywood career is skimmed over (there's not a lot on Casablanca, Notorious, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Gaslight or Spellbound) her relationships are certainly not. First husband, brain surgeon Petter, director Roberto Rossellini and theatre producer Lars Schmidt, and lovers like war photographer Robert Capa, whom she met while entertaining the troops during WWII, are all given ample screen time. A lot too is devoted to the fallout of the Stomboli shoot when she left Petter and daughter Pia to live with director Rossellini, becoming a social pariah in the process; she didn't return to Hollywood until Anastasia in 1956. It’s fascinating, intimate and wholly engaging.


ut the In Her Own Words subtitle becomes a bit of a misnomer as Bjorkman works his way into the fifties and beyond. Less and less is culled from Bergman's diary and letters home and more and more is opined by the children (Pia and Isabella are joined by Sigourney Weaver and Liv Ullman). Isabella and co. don't have a lot of insight to offer but Pia is more psychological in her approach; she suggests that her mother's love affairs with the men behind the camera – Capa, Rossellini, Sinclair, etc – may have something to do with Bergman's father's penchant for filming his young daughter, and the love and admiration she experienced coming from her father’s lens was something she sought in other men throughout her life.
hether the material in these decades was harder to come by or not, but when Bjorkman allows the children and others to pitch in the intimate spell is broken somewhat. As the style becomes less intimate, In Her Own Words begins to drag and repeat itself. The last half hour is saved by Bergman's confession that, although she starred in numerous films directed by her Italian husband, she was never comfortable with the ad-lib style he employed.
must for fans and Michael Nyman's score serves but doesn’t dominate the wonderful rare footage on show.