DANIEL by Ingmar Bergman / Stig Björkman
Stig Björkman, the Swedish film critic and writer, was a long-time associate of Ingmar Bergman. In his documentary film Behind the Scenes he presents three shorts portraying Bergman both in front and behind the camera. The film was made with the support from the World Cinema Foundation and Chairman Martin Scorsese contributed a personal introduction. Stig Björkman also included comments of prominent filmmakers like Woody Allan, Bernardo Bertolucci and Lars von Trier for whom Bergman is an important influence on their own work. The specially composed music score is by Matti Bye (Guldbagge Award winner).
This documentary features unique material from Ingmar Bergman’s behind-the-scenes footage as well as private shoots and are part of the collection donated by him to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation. Since 2007 this is also included in the UNESCO list “Memory of the World”.
Bergman’s donated artistic work comprised more than 45 packing cases containing his manuscripts, notes, sketches, photographs and several hours of his behind-the-scenes footage. Björkman, who is an esteemed director in his own right, carefully sorted through these piles of material producing a coherent and fascinating account of Bergman’s work. He is well acquainted with Bergman’s films and wrote the classic interview book Bergman on Bergman in 1970 and one year later made the interview film Ingmar Bergman.
Some of the high-lights show Bergman joking and laughing with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson on the set of Persona, as well as some loving scenes with Harriet Andersson, another one of his favourite actresses. Stig Björkman’s film centres on these three actresses (Bergman had long-standing affairs with each of them). “We have had intense personal relationships, roles and films have been shaped by that,” Bergman comments openly on one occasion.
I was surprised and didn’t expect such an openly relaxed family atmosphere on set where the director is making jokes and is fooling around, considering the severe themes of his films.
“When I come into the studio with my camera and colleagues around me, we always seem to be starting a game. I remember exactly like when I was small and took my toys out of the toy cupboard. It’s exactly the same feeling,” said Bergman in one of the interviews.
In his presentation Stig Björkman also included the eleven-minute home-movie Daniel (1964-1967) which was shot by Ingmar Bergman with his 9.5 mm Bell & Howell that he bought in the 1950s. With his short film Daniel he produced a very emotional and personal portrait of his little son - born in 1962 - exclaiming, “This is the most beautiful face,” while taking one of his long close-ups. This little film is a gem.
Stig Björkman’s documentary not only provides a lot of information, but, after witnessing some of the films in the making, I just wanted to see more of Bergman’s work. With about 20 of his films on offer during the Berlinale, I ran out of time and will have to find them on DVD.