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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview with director Stig Björkman
  • Super 8 home movies shot by Ingrid Bergman in the 1930s
  • Two deleted scenes, showing Bergman’s daughters reading an essay she wrote at age seventeen and an interview with film historian and Bergman scholar Rosario Tronnolone
  • Extended versions of scenes featuring interviews with actors Sigourney Weaver and Liv Ullmann and Bergman’s daughter Isabella Rossellini and with the three Rossellini siblings
  • Clip from the 1932 film Landskamp, featuring Ingrid Bergman in her first screen role
  • Outtakes from Bergman’s 1936 film On the Sunny Side
  • Music video for Eva Dahlgren's song “The Movie About Us,” which is included on the film’s soundtrack
  • Trailer
  • An essay by film scholar Jeanine Basinger

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By:
2015 | 114 Minutes | Licensor: Pretty Pictures

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #828
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 16, 2016
Review Date: August 14, 2016

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SYNOPSIS

Whether headlining films in Sweden, Italy, or Hollywood, Ingrid Bergman always pierced the screen with a singular soulfulness. With this new documentary, made on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of Bergman’s birth, director Stig Björkman allows us unprecedented access to her world, culling from the most personal of archival materials—letters, diary entries, photographs, and Super 8 and 16 mm footage Bergman herself shot—and following her from youth to tumultuous married life and motherhood. Intimate and artful, this lovingly assembled portrait, narrated by actor Alicia Vikander, provides luminous insight into the life and career of an undiminished legend.


PICTURE

Stig Björkman’s 2015 documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words receives a Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection, who present the film with an aspect ratio varying between 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 on a dual-layer disc. The film was completed in a digital workflow so the 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes straight from the digital source.

The film is primarily constructed from home movie footage, clips from films, older television interviews, and newly recorded footage. Since all of the newer footage has been shot digitally (though some newer footage was shot in Super 8) I doubt that any further restoration work was done so the overall quality really comes down to the source materials used for the other portions of the film. Thankfully this aspect differs from a similar film Criterion released, Steven Soderbergh’s And Everything Is Going Fine, which was made up primarily of standard definition footage and old VHS and Betamax footage (plus who knows whatever else). Though there is some obvious footage sourced from videocassette (unfortunately most of the home movies provided by daughter Pia Linström came from video copies transferred from the original film materials, which have since been lost), a good chunk of the footage comes from actual film, ranging from 8mm to 16mm. Surprisingly, considering the nature of a lot of the film footage, it looks to be in spectacular shape, meaning either the film elements were very well cared for through the years (and in some cases we’re talking film that would be almost 90 years old), or Björkman and his team actually had some restoration work done during the transfer process (the notes point out that film material was transferred at 2K and 4K resolution). Either way, the footage looks really good, coming off highly detailed and clean. Damage still exists, from tram lines to dirt, and these aspects can still get a bit heavy in places, but on the whole this footage looks great, much better than I would have expected. For film clips I’m assuming the filmmakers simply accessed existing high-definition masters of the films if they were available. Some film clips and outtakes look to have also been sourced from standard-definition masters, though these are rare.

The material that was sourced from video and standard definition video does look a little fuzzy and artifacts are present, but of course this is all just a limitation of the source materials. The newer footage shot in high-definition—along with title cards that pop up here and there—looks fine. I noticed some banding in a couple of places but I think this is more an issue inherent to the digital source and nothing to do with the encode since these issues don’t carry over to the sequences sourced from film, where compression is not an obvious problem.

Overall it’s very pleasing. It’s admittedly an odd film to rate in terms of picture simply because of the nature of it, but surprisingly it’s a very pleasing image and the film footage does look really good here.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film receives a 5.1 surround track, delivered in DTS-HD MA, and surprisingly the film provides a decent mix. The front center receives the most attention, dialogue primarily coming out of there, but music and sound effects do fill out the environment fairly well. This aspect isn’t overly showy, and the mix isn’t very dynamic, but it’s effective. Sound quality is very strong, the narration and the interviews sounding very clear. The older footage can vary with some of it coming off a bit distorted, but in general the track as a whole is still very easy to hear.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

It’s a bit of an odd title for Criterion to release on its own but they still put a decent effort into the features. Director Stig Björkman first provides an 18-minute interview where he talks primarily about how the film project came together and shares how he gathered the materials for the film. He was able to find a lot of material, particularly Bergman’s diaries and some movies, in the Bergman archive in Connecticut, while also finding more material from Bergman’s children (Pia Lindström had copies of some of Bergman’s early home movies), and in the David O. Selznick archive. He then discusses the difficulties he had in finding the right path for the film and constructing the right narrative, while also covering his favourite moments in the film and his favourite footage. The interview certainly won’t cause anyone to appreciate the film more or less, but I found the history behind the project fascinating enough.

Criterion next provides 7-minutes’ worth of home movie footage that came from Pia Lindström. This footage was of course scattered throughout the main feature but here we get to see a bit more, the most fascinating being footage of Alfred Hitchcock at what looks to be a family barbecue. The rest is all rather fascinating, capturing little private moments, footage of Pia as a child, and so on.

We even get a couple of deleted and extended scenes. For the deleted scenes we first get a rather sweet scene where Bergman’s daughters (Isabella and Ingrid Rossellini, and Pia Lindström) read from an essay that their mother wrote when she was much younger on how she would raise her future daughter. We then get an excised interview with historian Rosario Tronnolone, who has the largest known private collection of Bergman memorabilia (including just about every possible DVD copy from around the world of all of her films). He shows his collection of material while also talking about the appeal of the actor.

The extended scenes present more material from a couple of the interviews that appear in the film. The first segment, running 14-minutes, is taken from the interview with Sigourney Weaver, Isabella Rossellini, and Liv Ullmann. Weaver first shares a little more about working with Bergman on stage and her surprise at those who showed up to see her perform. The three then get into a general conversation about Bergman’s love of acting, their own love for the craft, and then wonder aloud why Bergman never got into directing. The second segment, running 6-minutes, is more of the interview segment featuring the three Rossellini siblings (Isabella, Ingrid, and Roberto) together, where they recall the insecurities of their mother (which never showed publicly) and mourn (in a way) the loss of their parents. I can see why these extended bits were cut but they’re all still very good, very engaging, and it’s wonderful to at least get them here on their own.

A 34-second clip from Bergman’s first film, Lanskamp is included, where you can make out Bergman in a long line. We also get outtakes from the Swedish film On the Sunny Side featuring Bergman and co-star Lars Hanson. This collection runs 4-minutes.

The disc then closes with a music video for the song ”The Movie About Us” by Eva Dahlgren (the song appears at the end of the film) and then the film’s theatrical trailer. The large fold-out insert included features an essay by Jeanine Basinger, who goes over the film’s narrative structure and Bergman’s career.

Admittedly it’s not a lot of material but I thought all of the additional footage (from the home movies to the extended interviews) was strong and added more value to this edition. I still came away impressed.

7/10

CLOSING

Again I feel it’s an odd title for Criterion to release but they’ve done a good job with it. The presentation actually comes out looking nice and the supplements prove to be engaging.


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