The transformation of Ingrid Bergman

The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman by Constantine Santas and James M. Wilson

According to Constantine Santas and James M. Wilson, Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman’s “simplicity of manner and lack of mannerisms endeared her to American audiences.” These are just a few personal qualities that the authors share in their newest book from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing entitled The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman (2018). Covering 198 pages, the newest addition to the successful The Essential Films series, shows readers the transformation of Bergman’s character from her Swedish simpler and more direct acting techniques to the more complex and elaborate Hollywood photographic methods.

In this volume, the authors offer an assessment of 21 selected films of Bergman’s listed chronologically. Among them are Casablanca, Gaslight, Notorious, Anastasia, and Murder on the Orient Express.  Every film begins with specs about the director, producer, screenplay, cast and crew, release date, and availability format. It proceeds with an introductory paragraph on the importance of the film, a plot synopsis, themes, and a conclusion. The volume also includes a brief biographical note and filmography of Bergman’s from 1934-1982. The first and only Swedish film that the authors examined was A Woman’s Face (1938). The reason for its inclusion was to point out Bergman’s excellent acting and maturity as a serious artist as well as the only villain role she played in her entire career. Bergman was already an established Swedish actress when film producer David O. Selznick discovered her. Selznick was attracted by her freshness and lack of affectation. Bergman worked hard to be accepted to the American audience: she took acting training, struggled with the correct enunciation of American English, learned from working with top directors and actors, came to the set fully prepared, and established a good rapport with other actors. Beyond acting, she was also a philanthropist who raised money for many humanitarian causes, and an affectionate and caring mother to her four children. Thanks to the devotion to her art and hard work, soon Bergman became one of the finest actresses in Hollywood: beautiful, graceful, and talented. She won two Oscar for Best Actress, one for Supporting Role, seven Oscar nominations, and numerous other awards for stage and television.

 The authors discuss several themes in Bergman’s screen roles such as her vulnerability, her facial expressions, and mainly her displacement as a Swiss foreigner. Several of her films show her as a woman with a wide range of emotions that she expresses clearly on her facial movements (her eyes averted when danger is looming, her hand covering part of her face, her eyes showing horror, to mention a few). The camera loved her face particularly her left side. Bergman’s displacement is portrayed in most of her screen roles as a European woman, a rebel who left home, a refugee or fugitive. Bergman performed other roles in both American and European films. For example, she starred in three of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and in religious films such as Joan of Arc. Whichever role Bergman tackled, it reflected her creative talent, exceptional beauty, and intelligence.

The Essential Films of Ingrid Bergman is a well-researched and engaging book of Bergman’s most significant films that transformed her into one of the brightest Hollywood stars. The book is a great read for fans of Ingrid Bergman and performing arts students.

 

 

 

 

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