Stig Björkman’s affectionate Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words arrives in the wake of Listen to Me Marlon, a documentary that Marlon Brando narrates from beyond the grave by way of the audiotapes he left behind. Similarly, Björkman forms Bergman’s voice-over from archival interviews and Alicia Vikander–read diary entries and letters to which he adds remembrances from her daughter Isabella Rossellini and other confidants, like actress-turned-director Liv Ullmann (if anything, the format more closely resembles HBO’s Frank Sinatra: All or Nothing at All).
Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words is the opposite of a Hollywood-chews-up-actress-and-spits-her-out story. Before she left Sweden for America, Bergman had already lost her parents and her siblings, which may have contributed to her independent spirit. But while she thrived on screen in classics like Casablanca, the puritanical press of the 1940s looked askance at her affair with Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini (she also had affairs with Robert Capa and Victor Fleming). That scandal aside, there’s no dirt here.
What we learn from the documentary is that she loved working with Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, and Alfred Hitchcock. All told, she had three husbands, four children, and lived in at least five countries. She may have cheated, but she was also cheated on. She may have won three Oscars, but she also received scathing reviews. In the end, she had no regrets, which may be the most remarkable thing about this remarkable woman. As she puts it herself, "I had a lion inside me that wouldn't keep quiet."