Notorious: The Life of Ingrid Bergman (英語) ペーパーバック – 1998/3/26
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Revealing and richly informative account of the dramatic life of one of the century's most famous screen actresses, Ingrid Bergman (1915-82), a controversial woman whose affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini led to her being banned from the USA for seven years.Ingrid Bergman was the daughter of a Swedish father and German mother, who spent part of the 1930s in the German film industry. Her success in the Swedish film `Intermezzo' (1936), where she played a concert pianist, led to her arrival in Hollywood in 1939, where she starred in `Casablanca', three of Hitchcock's films (`Notorious', `Spellbound' and `Under Capricorn'), `Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' (with Spencer Tracy), `Gaslight', `The Bells of St Mary's', `For Whom the Bell Tolls', etc.Her roles, like her life, alternated between the saintly and the saucy, the innocent and the dissolute. At first America fell in love with her: she was uncommonly fresh, recognisably human, and (it seemed) a happily domesticated wife and mother. However, as Spoto shows, nothing was ever tame about Ingrid; her love affairs were intense, and her relationship with Rossellini scandalised America.Ingrid Bergman's work and life comprise a romantic drama that rivals the biographies of Isadora Duncan, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Jacqueline Kennedy. In forty-nine feature films, nine plays and countless public appearances, she enchanted millions over a period of five decades.
Donald Spoto is the internationally acclaimed author of bestselling biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor. He has taught at major universities in America and continues to lecture throughout the world.
(The Life of Ingrid Bergman)
I have lived with the ghost of Ingrid Bergman for nearly six months.
She was so lovely and such a compelling guest that I never wanted her to leave, nor could I so easily leave her. Ingrid Bergman was and is my favorite actress (and one of World's Great Women) of any era. "Radiant" should have been Ingrid's middle name. Many of the wonderful things said of her, and most of the accolades and description's are true. In her youthful splendor, she did indeed conjure visions of being "the sweetheart of a Viking."
Ah Ingrid! Even today, she remains unforgettable.
The naked facts: Ingrid Bergman was ineffably beautiful and talented and convincing. She was natural and healthy; such a wonderful counter-presence in an era of artifice and cosmetic perfection. Though it was never her plan, but purely by an accident of genetics, she evoked the physical manifestation of an angel.
However, the woman behind that face was heartbreakingly human.
She was a child of tragedy. Her young mother, Frieda, died when Ingrid was but a tyke. Her beloved father, Justus, who introduced her to the camera, would die when Ingrid was a 12 year-old school girl. She lived with a succession of relatives, but had no real foundation, and thus, she became a young girl accustomed to the people she loved leaving her. Thankfully, she had a talent for storytelling and reenactment. This gift would serve her well and eventually propel her into stardom, first in Sweden, then in America. The fact was, Ingrid Bergman could act. Although chronically shy, as she later said: "There was a lion inside me, and it wouldn't shut up!"
She was, in equal parts: physically lovely, endlessly fascinating, considerably gifted, breathlessly driven, exceedingly accomplished, and yet, she was also lacking in sophistication and worldliness, self-motivated in deed, endowed by the stubborn tunnel vision to succeed, exacting and deeply frustrating. Ingrid Bergman was to become a three-time Oscar-winning actress, but far more than this, she was a complex woman, in her oft-times selfish element, and so clearly ahead of her time.
In "Notorious," the Hitchcock directed film she costarred in with Cary Grant, she gave, arguably her best screen performance. Her instincts ingenious. She could do so much with her silences. She could be all sassy and subtle, lush and lovely or desperate and damaged. It was so easy to become besotted by her- as Hitch clearly was. Bergman was rarely cast as the hot-to-trot siren, the dishy dame. or the dangerous diva like her contemporaries. No, those Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck slots were already taken, and so she became our iridescent Ingrid. And while "Notorious" may have been her best film, it was never as beloved or as popular as "Casablanca"-- a film that was rife with stress and perpetual uncertainty as it was being made..
"Notorious" is a play on words here, of course. But Ingrid Bergman was not a notorious woman. She was only painted that way for a choice she'd made in her personal life. A choice, by the way, which was hers alone to make, and thus, should have been none of our damned business..
Personally, I didn't want this book to end, and yet, I felt a great sense of relief when it did. We never want to see our leading ladies hurt, but life doesn't work that way. Hurt becomes a necessary part of the scenario. We never want our icons to die, and when they do, it isn't at all like in real life, for they never really go away. Instead, they re-inhabit their younger skins, and they haunt us throughout the generations, on film.
In "Notorious (The Life of Ingrid Bergman)," a part of her comes back to life.
Author Donald Spoto is a fine writer, and clearly, much like this reader, he is a fan of his subject. However, to pen a fair, unbiased biography, being a fan does not always allow for an equally critical view of said subject.
There were many instances, where one feels we are getting only one side of the story (Miss Bergman's), when a biography should be a bit more inclusive of the whole picture. Also, there were times when this reader would have benefited from hearing more of Ingrid Bergman's voice, her impressions, directly, as opposed to certain details being glossed over.
Example: upon Ingrid's maiden voyage to the U.S. there was to be a formal introduction as she was invited to be the guest of honor at her first Hollywood gathering (a dinner party held for David Selznick). This little soiree included many iconic figures of the day (such as Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Claudette Colbert, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Ann Sheridan, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, etc...), most of them already GIANTS. Yet, this is only mentioned in passing. Wouldn't a reader want to know of a young Swedish girl's first impressions of meeting these iconic people, all in one evening? Spoto missed a great opportunity to clue the reader into, not only Miss Bergman's impressions, but her state of mind and emotional temperature at the time. Did she fan-girl out, or was she all cool and Nordic about it?
An interesting sidebar is that Miss Bergman would go on to work alongside several of the above-named stars. The Hollywood Spoto paints here is more than a tad inside, it is close to being incestuous.
However, the author does a wonderful job at taking the reader into Sweden, after WWI, to the point where we feel not only the weather, but the mood of the place. He does the same when taking us into Hollywood during that curious era of McCarthyism. You actually begin to feel the fear, the paranoia, and even that scary sense of foreboding.
A humorous person, and yet a serious artist, Ingrid Bergman was an actress of considerable depth who lived and breathed for that next great role. This was her foremost desire. It was not to be a dedicated wife, or a dutiful mother. Perhaps selfishness is necessary to become a Great Artist. Art was Ingrid's first love. Somewhere along the way, something or someone had to suffer from this single-mindedness. Though the author refrains from using the p-word, the men who were making decisions in Ingrid Bergman's life come off here as pimps: namely David Selznick (the uber producer of Gone With the Wind who helped secure Bergman much of her early acting work in America) and Petter Lindstrom, her first husband. Both men gained considerable finances, due mostly from an earnest Ingrid's hard work on screen. As a reader, this was disturbing that the actress. who America and the world would come to adore, was essentially being pimped out, from studio to studio, and paycheck to paycheck, not benefiting very much from her stellar services before the camera.
However, despite her sunny filmic allure and her convincing performances in the roles of noble, self-sacrificing women, Ingrid Bergman was divinely human. Away for the sound stages, and in the reality, Ingrid made serious mistakes in judgment. She was an artist, and not the most faithful wife. She was not a whore, but nor was she perfect. Fact is, she slept with married men. It was never for the usual cliché reasons to get ahead in the business, but she forged "sympathetic friendships" with several artistic men whom she deeply admired. Often creative people will attract other creatives to them. Yet, in doing so, Ingrid was chronically unfaithful to her then-husband, Petter. Bad move, Ingrid! Yes, she made serious mistakes, and an array of bad personal choices. We all do. However, Ingrid Bergman's biggest mistake was made on a world-wide stage when, while still married, and in Italy making the fated film "Stromboli," she slept with and then became pregnant by director Roberto Rossellini. Had she existed in this day of social media, her "scandal" would blazed hot for a few days... and not the YEARS it lasted. Surely the trolls would have their ugly way with her, memes would be created to ridicule her, the entertainment shows would exploit the situation... and then a new scandal would take place. Ingrid Bergman would not be branded a Scarlet Woman, nor denounced upon the Senate floor as an "apostle of degradation."
Instead, this country got it wrong. It pointed a prudish finger at Bergman, and took away her star status. In a flash, she went from a top actress and A-List superstar to suddenly persona non grata for what was essentially a matter between she, her husband, Petter Lindstrom, and their family.
Exiled, not only from America, but from her young daughter, Pia, this ensuing drama was, in part, due to the mania surrounding the actress... and due also to a bitter and embarrassed Lindstrom's machinations. Fact: hurt people, hurt people.
A guilt-ridden Bergman, distraught over the absence of Pia in her life, would begin a new and different chapter and an acting career in Italy. In the following years, after an acrimonious and prolonged divorce from Lindstrom, she would marry her Italian director. She made films exclusively for Rossellini (who doesn't come off as entirely sane or sympathetic in this book). She would create and raise another family in a different place. But that hunger for more artistry always existed within her spirit. Ingrid Bergman's inner fire could not and would not be completely stifled.
The long and short of it, is Ingrid worked only sporadically during the next seven years, toiling exclusively for Rossellini. His style (if one could call it a style) was a disorganized, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants method of film-making. Bergman wanted, and was accustomed to more professionalism within the craft, but for Rossellini, she remained faithful, if silently miserable. With her career stalled, she is light-years away from the white-hot fame she once knew in America. She took care of her now, three children. Yet, the actress needed more. Even as other offers came her way, Rossellini refused to 'allow' her to travel without him or to work for any other directors.
Hmmmm... Controlling much, Mr. Rossellini?
Her forgiving nature aside, America did not do right by Ingrid Bergman. Hollywood (like the USA) was never very pure or without it own hypocrisy. That Bergman would be taken to task and punished for being less saintly than the Joan of Arc she'd once portrayed is the real abomination.Yet, these were the times in which she existed.
But when the offer of a starring role in "Anastasia" came, Ingrid felt strong and determined. Adding to this, the household monies were so depleted that even the demanding Rossellini conceded. Ingrid accepted the part, knowing it would be filmed in England, and not America. This was to be her great return to the screen. It worked. She was beautiful and brilliant, as she had always been. People fell in love with Ingrid all over again. Sure apologies to her were at long last made. Sure, she went on to won two more Oscars, and two Emmys, and she is still regarded as one of the Best Actresses of all time. How lovely! How satisfying! But America enforced its own hypocrisy onto Bergman's beauteous shoulders, and she'd suffered silently for so many years.
She would finally reunite with her daughter, Pia, now a teenager. The marriage to Roberto Rossellini crumbled, because the Art between them had died.
Later, Bergman would take yet another husband, and finally the third time was the charm. Producer Lars Schmidt ( a fellow Swede) proved to be right fit for Ingrid Bergman's needs during that third act of her life. She would know great success as a stage actress all over the world. Ingrid was now a citizen of the world. She acquired a certain wisdom which greatly complimented her maturity and even better enhanced her strength of character. Blessed with a superior work ethic, she would continue to perform, even as she endured the ravaging effects of the cancer that would eventually end her life.
Yes, Ingrid Bergman was indeed, a superb actress, and a wonderful woman who lead quite an intense existence, from a lonely Swedish orphan to the pinnacle of fame as a screen goddess, from America's darling girlfriend to its most daring public sinner...and then exalted yet again.
Along with so many other things, both admirable and distressing, this book gives proof... that true legends never die.
"Life beats down and crushes the Soul... Art reminds you that you have one." -Stella Adler
Some parts of if are certainly beautifully written - for example, the last chapter when time comes for the end of Ingrid's life - but there are a lot of gaps and spaces. The most interesting aspect of Ingrid's life was obviously the years 1949 and 1950, when her scandal with Rossellini broke. He does a mildly good job of covering this event,but we could have certainly gotten more.
In his Acknowledgments in the beginning of the book, Spoto earnestly gives credit to Petter Lindstrom and Lars Schmidt, (Ingrid's first and third husbands), Pia Lindstrom (Bergman's daughter with her first husband), and numerous others that could have contributed to this being a great biography. But as you read you will scratch your head, wondering where are the passages from Ingrid's diaries and personal papers, like he promises? Where are the citations from her husbands and daughter? If I were Spoto, I would have put the Acknowledgments in the back of the book so people would not be scanning the pages as they read, searching for all this confidential information. We lack a lot of information from the Rossellini era - Rossellini died in the 70's, and maybe he could not get interviews with her children with Rossellini. But there must have been at least family friends, neighbors, etc. who would be willing to give us a better outlook on her time in Italy.
Another problem of Spoto's is when he runs dry of information, he just pulls out his thesaurus and uses a bunch of fancy adjectives, synonyms, and superlatives (as another reviewer stated) to anaylze her roles in movies and the way she played them. He doesn't seem to get the point that these are not textbooks on acting he is writing here, because I have faced this annoyance with every book of his that i have read.
I was also unhappy with the format of this book. It is quite big and heavy and not the most reader friendly. The quality of photos look as if they were scanned from another book.
If anything, Spoto does have a lot of respect for Bergman and tries his best to make this worthwhile. I hope to try and catch Ingrid's autobiography next, even though Spoto claims in the book it is a sloppy piece of work... I simply wasn't satisfied with this. Ingrid was such a great star. She deserves a well authorized book.