Ingmar Bergman Loved Jurassic Park, and His Nine Children and Their Six Mothers Loved Him

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12/04/2009 4:12 PM |

Ingmar Bergmans screening room.
  • Ingmar Bergman’s screening room.

After Ingmar Bergman watched Jurassic Park at the private screening room at his home on island of Faro, he exclaimed “Those Americans know how to put on the pants!”

I have spent days pondering this statement. I have come to two conclusions. Firstly: That I have come, will come, no closer than I was initially to understanding what Ingmar Bergman was talking about. And secondly: That this is probably the truest thing anybody has ever said about a Spielberg movie.

This comes from an article article in W magazine (the writer, Diane Solway, seems to be close with Linn Ullmann, Bergman’s daughter with Liv Ullmann). The article is a fascinating chronicle about Bergman’s secluded home, which he built after shooting Persona, and his relationships, in the more settled later years of his life, with his many women and children and grandchildren.

There’s lot’s more about his taste (“‘The women are beautiful, and they talk dirty,’ he told Linn [about Sex and the City‘. ‘Do you talk that way with your girlfriends?'”), and some photos of his lovely sparse surroundings; mostly, though, it’s a glimpse inside what might be the world’s most complicated extended family. (It begins with Bergman’s children writing and performing a play about God and Satan wrangling over his soul.)

My favorite detail involves Bergman’s relationship with Liv Ullmann (also touched on in Benjamin Strong‘s recent L piece on BAM’s still-ongoing Ullmann-and-Bergman series). “Bergman often wrote [notes to himself] on the walls and furniture,” we’re told…

On the back of his workroom door, he and Liv made drawings daily about their feelings for each other. Red hearts and faces meant good days; black O’s, sometimes a string of them, signaled darker times. At the end of one line, Liv drew a simple heart, with the words “Liv leaves.”

In his piece on Ullmann and Bergman, Strong calls the actress “a worthy accomplice who wasn’t afraid to stand up to him,” and continues:

The actress relates in her 1976 memoir, Changing, how when they were together, “Ingmar and I had an arrangement whereby at his funeral I should appear in a long black dress. I should have preferred red. And if he was married to someone else, I would go and take my place at the back of the church after everyone else had arrived, faint during the eulogy and be carried out during the recessional.

In Solway’s W article, the great atheist Bergman comes off as similarly matter-of-fact about his death: “in his will, written in the Nineties, [he] instructed his heirs to… to sell off his houses, his cinema and their contents to the highest bidder. ‘About this I want no emotional hullaballoo,’ [he] wrote…”

No, of course not.

One Comment

  • check out this interview w Bergman: http://zakka.dk/euroscreenwriters/intervie…

    Personally, I think E. Gould ruined The Touch. If you ever get a chance to see that Bjorkman documentary I highly recommend it.

    Also, to Ben Strong: I think Bergman vs Antonioni is pretty debatable, as far as that getting overshadowed part. I wonder what God said when he saw both of them at the gates…