Bergman Island


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Writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve embarks on a luminous summertime odyssey to the home of Ingmar Bergman for her seventh feature, a graceful, shape-shifting tale about the interplay of life and art and the ways in which stories are born. In search of inspiration for their current filmmaking projects, Chris (Vicky Krieps) and her partner (Tim Roth) travel to the remote island of Fårö, Sweden, where Bergman lived and worked for decades. There, the spirit of the cinema master looms as Chris confronts her complicated relationships to work, men, motherhood, and her artistic influences. Also featuring radiant performances from Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie, Bergman Island is a rich deconstruction of the mysteries of the creative process and the journey that every film takes from thought to page to screen.

Picture 8/10

The Criterion Collection presents Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc in its original aspect ratio of around 2.40:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from the 2K digital intermediate.

The presentation is about what one would expect for a newer film: it’s sharp and clean with excellent detail and no damage to speak of. The colors have a nice pop to them, the blues found in the sky and water especially; I can’t say Bergman’s black-and-white photography ever gave the impression the island of Fårö ever looked anything remotely close to this. Black levels are mostly acceptable throughout the film, but a nighttime sequence at a wedding reception looks incredibly murky, flattening out the background and eating up all detail in the process. Even foreground objects blend in and disappear.

All-in-all, the digital presentation looks perfectly fine, the encode not showing any apparent artifacts on screen. It even has a decent film-like texture to it. It looks good.

Audio 8/10

The film comes with a 5.1 soundtrack presented in DTS-HD MA. I wouldn’t have expected it, but the film does deliver an immersive surround experience. A rainstorm, waves crashing, the wind blowing, and more are mixed effectively through the environment. The effects are incredibly crisp and clean, with an extensive amount of range. Dialogue, regularly sticking to the fronts, also sounds sharp and clear with natural fidelity. It’s all rather impressive considering the reflective temperament of the film.

(Non-English dialogue is presented with burned-in subtitles.)

Extras 4/10

Criterion only includes two significant features, both interviews: a 20-minute one featuring director Mia Hansen-Løve and a 16-minute one with actor Vicky Krieps. Fitting the theme of the film, both interviews delve into finding inspiration and working it into one’s respective art, Krieps sharing her own experience around exploring Fårö while filming and Hansen-Løve explaining how the first inklings of inspiration for the film came to her following Ingmar Bergman’s death and learning he was not who she thought he was (in the included essay she’s quoted as being surprised the director was a “great woman lover”). She would eventually visit the island for the first time, discovering it is nothing like how Bergman would depict it in his films, and—unsurprisingly—Bergman Island's story ends up showing how she was inspired to make the film, art reflecting life and all that. Interestingly, Greta Gerwig was first involved as both something of a collaborator and intended lead before she went off to direct her own project, with Krieps coming in afterward (the director was impressed by her in Phantom Thread). Through the two interviews we also learn about the film’s surprisingly lengthy production schedule due to difficulties in casting the husband, the role eventually going to Tim Roth (John Turturro was also considered). This led to Krieps filming her solo sequences first, with Roth’s sequences filmed the following year. The two also go over their own relationships with Ingmar Bergman’s films and to my surprise neither sound to have been as familiar with his work or the man himself as I would have expected, Krieps admitting she held off on watching several of his films until work on Bergman Island was completed.

I enjoyed both interviews but can’t say I’m not disappointed about there being little else on here, even if I can’t say what else I may have expected. Maybe some material around Bergman and his work to contextualize the film a bit more for unfamiliar audiences? Perhaps even something about Fårö, if not one of Bergman’s own films on the subject? The disc at least includes the film’s trailer and a 4-minute short film created by filmmaker Gabe Klinger (who appears as one of the tourists in the movie) entitled Bergman’s Ghosts, made during the production of Bergman Island. It consists of behind-the-scenes footage and footage taken around Fårö, an audio recording of Hansen-Løve speaking over. An included insert then features an extensive essay by Devika Girish, the co-deputy editor at Film Comment. She expands a bit on the film’s development before getting into its themes and the lead characters of the individual stories in the film. She also likens it to Hansen-Løve’s other films, opening the essay by mentioning how her films don’t end “they simply stop.”

Criterion has created impressive special editions for recent films, as they did with Eyimofe and Farewell Amor last year or even Inside Llewyn Davis from a few years ago. The features for this edition are passable but still leave one wanting. I’m also a bit surprised that Criterion, of all labels, didn’t include anything else around Bergman. Even simply recycling Peter Cowie’s 36-year-old video essay from their release of The Seventh Seal would have made sense.


It’s a fine enough release with a nice presentation but it’s slim on features.


Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Year: 2021
Time: 113 min.
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 1170
Licensor: IFC Films
Release Date: January 31 2023
MSRP: $39.95
1 Disc | BD-50
2.35:1 ratio
English 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround
Subtitles: English
Region A
 New interview with Mia Hansen-Løve   New interview with actor Vicky Krieps   Bergman’s Ghosts (2021), a short film made during the filming of Bergman Island by actor Gabe Klinger   An essay by critic Devika Girish