film history: Film Stars 07/50 | Ingrid Bergman
Born in Sweden and a natural performer from a young age, Ingrid Bergman overcame the loss of her parents during the first 13 years of her life to become one of the defining icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Raised with an interest in show-business (her father aspired Ingrid as a future opera singer) in post-WW1 Europe, Bergman dreamed of a career in acting throughout ehr childhood, playing in costumes in her father’s studio who acquainted her with the camera on each of her birthdays. After his death at 13 (and the death of her aunt six months later) Ingrid came under the care of her aunt and uncle, and was given her break into the industry at the age of 17 with an acting competition with Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre School, the grand prize being a prestigious scholarship with the school that had previously taught Greta Garbo. Ingrid aced the competition and undertook an education in her passion, which after only several months landed her a part in a new play, and a debut into film after only a year at the school (previously unheard of) in 1935’s Munkbrogreven at the tender age of 19.
After roles in a number of Swedish films following her entry, Hollywood’s David O. Selznick took Ingrid over to the US for a part in his new film Intermezzo (1939), for what was originally intended to be a one-off production before Ingrid would return to Sweden. But the success of Intermezzo catapulted Ingrid into Hollywood stardom with her fresh natural, introverted screen presence that contrasted greatly with the glitz and glamour of the industry that previously dominated in the 30’s. With WW2 looming and her homelands in Europe under threat from the rising Nazi party (a tragedy that subsequently haunted Ingrid throughout her life), Ingrid finished her Swedish career and went on to play her iconic role in Casablanca alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1941, which cemented her position as a new star in Hollywood and became her best-loved role (to the bemusement of Bergman herself).
Throughout the 40’s Ingrid performed in many films including For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Gaslight (1944, a role that produced her first Academy Award), three Hitchcock collaborations including Notorious in 1946 and her second Academy Award nominated role in Joan of Arc in 1948. After her huge success in America, Ingrid became interested in the work of Italian director Roberto Rossellini and after expressing a desire to collaborate, starred in Rossellini’s 1950 film Stromboli. The personal relationship that developed between the two during the making of the film caused a public scandal in the US on the highest scale that greatly affected Ingrid’s image in the media and forced her to relocate to Italy with Rossellini, causing a messy divorce from her husband Dr. Petter Lindstróm and a custody battle over her daughter. Ingrid made a number of films with her new husband in Italy but an unsuccessful relationship resulted in a separation in 1956 after which Ingrid returned to the States, although not before playing one of her most acclaimed performances in Elena and Her Men. An Academy Award winning role in Anastasia re-booted her US career and after making her first public appearance at the 1958 awards (aided by her friend Cary Grant), Ingrid was given a standing ovation after 10 year’s absence from the Hollywood spotlight.
The rest of Ingrid’s career was filled with a plethora of performances in TV, theatre and cinema and in 1974 she joined the Oscar hall of fame after winning her third Best Actress award for her acclaimed performance in Murder on the Orient Express, a role that she chose herself after being offered a much grander part by director Sidney Lumet. Ingrid’s final film role came with Autumn Sonata in 1978, her 7th Best Actress nomination and in 1982, the final year of her life, she starred in the mini television series A Woman Called Golda, a part she battled against increasingly dangerous breast cancer to finish. She lost her battle 4 months after. The mark Ingrid Bergman left behind on the entertainment industry remains to the day, her genuine and emotional performances command an unmatched level of affection and identification from audiences not only of a range of nationalities given a devoted Bergman role in their home country, but a generation-spanning collection of ages too, as many continue to discover and share the intricacies of her performances in such huge films as Casablanca, Joan of Arc or Notorious, where at the hearts of these grandiose works stands the understated, sensitive figure of Bergman, radiating an aura of quiet, headstrong emotion among the drama and turmoil of the Hollywood industry.