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A Deep Dive into Ingmar Bergman

On April 21st, the stacked Methods of Film Study/Film Authorship classes hosted an open-to-the-public, big-screen presentation of the 2021 feature film Bergman Island. After a dozen weeks of motion pictures by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, a public screening of a new film about the artist’s impact on contemporary filmmakers, both male and female, was a special way to end the semester for these graduate/undergraduate students and for members of the larger campus community. Bergman Island is the creation of young French director and screenwriter, Mia Hansen-Løve. It tells the semi-autobiographical story of a film-making couple, Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth), who voyage to the island Fårö, off the coast of Sweden, where Bergman lived and worked for 40 years to take part in an artist’s residency program. They travel around the island, soaking up inspiration for their own work, but later their ambivalent feelings about family and career collide.

A few days later, on April 26th, students and the campus community enjoyed a follow-up Zoom discussion with Cristina Jardim Riberio, Head of Operations at the Bergman Center on Fårö. Ms. Riberio provided context and first-hand information about this world-famous director and how her organization and others serve to maintain the memory of Bergman and his work. To begin, she discussed Bergman Week, an annual festival devoted to the spirit of Bergman, with five days of film screenings, discussions, lectures, and dramatic and musical performances. She shared the story of a visit to Fårö by a well-known filmmaker who stopped at the entrance of Bergman’s house and said, “I don’t deserve to enter!” She also discussed the fact that in Sweden, Bergman is better known for his scandalous personal life than his art, although this is starting to change with younger generations of Swedes beginning to appreciate this challenging creator’s cinematic output. Perhaps the most interesting point that Ms. Riberio made was that actors who worked with Bergman are rarely in thrall of the filmmaker in the way others are. Rather, they are simply professional actors who rose to the challenge of working with this very strict director and perfectionist and see him as a nothing more or less than a collaborator and a human being. It was exciting to hear so many inside stories about the world of Ingmar Bergman (Zoom attendees were told one particular anecdote they are not allowed to repeat) from a top professional keeping his legacy alive in the Twenty-First century.

—Erli Ling

Bergman Island Movie Poster (click to enlarge)
Bergman Center buildings on Fårö island (click to enlarge)
Cristina Jardim Riberio Headshot
Cristina Jardim Riberio