Return to Bergman Island

On Film / Short Takes — Oct 21, 2009

There’s been no shortage of tributes and farewells to Ingmar Bergman in the two years since his death. Considering the parallels between his tumultuous personal life (five wives, nine children) and the troubled personae of his characters, and since his cinematic legacy seems to have taken a backseat in recent months to the uncertain future of his earthly possessions, the Swedish filmmaker has always held a fascination for gossip hounds as well as film historians, resulting in much tawdry speculation. So Diane Solway’s measured new feature in W magazine on Bergman, specifically his forty years on the island of Fårö and his final days there, is most welcome. Concerned with details large (Bergman’s relationships with his many wives and lovers; his devotion to movies; his adoration of the austere island) and small (he was a fan of the Muppets . . . and Sex and the City), Solway’s piece is a fitting, fond farewell. And as a bonus, there are eleven exclusive snapshots taken by Stephen Shore at and around Bergman’s isolated Fårö home before the house was auctioned off—the first such photos Bergman’s family has allowed for publication.