By Joey Lopez
Bergman: A Year in a Life
In conversation with director Jane Magnuson
Ingmar Bergman, known as one of the greatest directors to live, was and still is an icon of the film world. With a storied career of masterpieces such as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and Persona, Bergman told stories unlike anyone else. During his life, he was a rock star known the world over, but before 1957 Bergman was making films that were mostly under the radar. By the end of that year, arguably his most prolific, he would earn all of the titles that precede his name.
“I was on this island in Bergman’s film library of over 1,700 films that were in his collection, it was everything from Blues Brothers to Hiri Kiri,” says Jane Magnuson, director of Bergman: A Year in a Life, from her home in Sweden. “I’ve never been a Bergman scholar, but I couldn’t help but notice the collection of his films that came out in 1957 and thought ‘Goodness, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries came out in the same year. Someone should make a film about that year, because how was that all possible?’”
“I was asked by the producers of this project to make the Bergman Centennial film and thought if I was going to do it, it had to be about this year,” she continues. “At first I thought I couldn’t pull it off, but as I kept doing research it just kept getting crazier and crazier. What I thought would be a difficult project ended up being easier because every day something new would pop up like ‘Oh, he did another project!’ At the time, he was married, had an affair, made four plays, a television movie, and wrote, directed, and released Wild Strawberries. It was insane.”
At the end of his life, Bergman was seen as this grumpy old man worn down by years of hard work, but during 1957 he was at his prime. He worked tirelessly, unable sleep at night due to an untreated stomach ulcer brought on by the stress of being consumed by his plethora of productions. He was motivated and he was obsessed.
“He was making films for 13 years, and a lot of them were bad. He has one that Sweden has banned that we weren’t even allowed to see, but he wanted to be the best. He worked so hard in 1957 because he wanted to be the greatest director of all time.”VIFF