Ingrid Bergman. The Early Years

Programme curated by Jon Wengström in collaboration with Svenska Filminstitutet


The star of Casablanca, Notorious, Stromboli, Viaggio in Italia, Autumn Sonata and other American and European classics is widely known; making Ingrid Bergman one of the most celebrated actresses of her generation and definitely the biggest Swedish international star ever, alongside Garbo. As much admired for her performances on-screen, the decision to leave her family and Hollywood stardom towards the end of the 1940’s to move to Italy – despite heavy criticism and even outrage in some quarters – also made her a model of independence and integrity.
Less known is her pre-Hollywood career, and this program – celebrating the centenary of Ingrid Bergman’s birth – includes four of the ten films she made in Sweden before leaving for America, and her only German film. Making her debut in 1935 with Munkbrogreven (Count of the Monks Bridge), when she was still studying at the Royal Dramatic theater school, Ingrid Bergman instantly became the most sought-after actress in Swedish film industry, starring as the principal actress in another three features before the end of the year. The naivety and innocent charm of her debut was soon to be replaced with performances where she brought character and depth to the parts she played, to the extent that in some of the less successful films of the 1930’s – such as Swedenhielms, På Solsidan (On the Sunnyside) and Dollar, not included in the program –, the only memorable scenes are the ones where she is present. After the 1936 Intermezzo, which brought attention to her also outside of Sweden, Ingrid Bergman excelled in roles where her character displays an aura of mysticism, often carrying secrets of a troubling past while trying to adapt in a new environment, most notably in En kvinnas ansikte (A Woman’s Face, 1938) and Juninatten (A Night in June, 1940), the two most cinematographically interesting films in the programme.
On the occasion of the centenary, the Svenska Filminstitutet has digitized several of the Ingrid Bergman films, and two of the digitally restored feature films will be screened in DCP format at the festival, along with two 35mm archival prints struck directly from the original nitrate picture and sound negatives. The Ingrid Bergman programme also includes five rarely screened short films, showing Ingrid Bergman at various stages in her career after having left Sweden for international stardom. As well as an episode from an omnibus fiction film, the short film programme also includes non-fiction shorts, behind-the-scenes footage and out-takes, providing a rare opportunity to see her off-screen public persona.
Commemorating the centenary of her birth, writer and film-maker Stig Björkman will be in Bologna to present his film new film Jag är Ingrid (Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words), which includes unique small-gauge footage from Europe and America shot by the actress herself.

Jon Wengström