A documentary that dives back into the golden year of 1957; when Ingmar Bergman was at his greatest, and his fastest – providing a plethora of productions. His most notable being The Seventh Seal (1957) and Wild Strawberries (1957) which even to this day are highly regarded. Director Jane Magnusson (Cupcake, 2014) brilliantly puts the viewer both in front and behind the camera, revealing a mastery in Bergman as well as an explosive nature.
Although this documentary includes admirers of Bergman it doesn’t lean towards presenting viewers with a favourable image of the man. From his questionable political views to his contradictory telling of his own story through his autobiography and personal notebooks. His infidelity involving having six children with three different women and more famously; his sharp temper on set. Bergman was quite a force and this documentary hones in on him, which simply works to magnify his genius.
Magnusson manages to feature archive footage of Bergman during interviews and even, never before seen soundless clips on the set. This gives us an honest Bergman. Though what we may not learn from the clips are the stomach ulcers he suffered from which he never let get in the way of his work.
In one clip, older and reflecting back on his life in an interview, he explains his inability to remember any aspect of his life beyond directing. Explaining that he’d remember by the date of his productions and “roughly” knowing the ages of his six children. Bergman was engrossed in his work and he’d sacrificed a tragic amount in order to see his creative projects to their end.
Individuals such as Woody Allen, Lars Von Trier and Barbara Streisand share their love and admiration for Bergman and his works while others that had worked under him explain the fear they’d felt whenever he’d stepped into the room.
At times this documentary is a little sporadic, though, with such a fascinating subject as Ingmar Bergman, it seems to go unnoticed. He is an astounding figure and can be appreciated for his artistic genius, relentless drive, though pitied for the neglect he’d paid to those around him. Claiming his life is lonely, the documentary presents the sacrifices made for greatness in the most heartbreaking manner.
Included in the Blu-Ray edition are a collection of interviews Bergman made, a comedic animation by the director (Vox Lipoma), that gives life to the lump on Bergman’s cheek as well as a Q&A with the director Jane Magnusson.
Dir: Jane Magnusson
Prd: Fredrik Heinig, Johan Häggström & Cecilia Nessen
DOP: Emil Klang
Music: Jonas Beckman & Lars Kumlin
Runtime: 1h 57min
Bergman A Year in a Life will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 25th March.