Foraging in the Bergman Foundation
For the past twelve months I’ve been re-plunging into Ingmar Bergman. It began with a conference in Lund, Sweden, in June of 2018, to mark the centennial of his birth; numerous experts, among them contributors to Criterion’s mammoth edition last year, read papers on various facets of Bergman’s oeuvre. It ended in June 2019, when Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema won the best box-set award at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna. In between, I took two research trips to Stockholm, where the Ingmar Bergman Foundation made me welcome as I prepare to expand and update my critical biography of Bergman.
Although the Bergman centennial yielded a profusion of retrospectives, stage performances, and seminars, the foundation that bears Bergman’s name dates back to 2002, when the director himself decided to give his archive of letters, diaries, photos, and other documents to an independent entity housed within the Swedish Film Institute. Some forty-five massive boxes arrived at the institute and were then painstakingly collated over the ensuing years. These included around 20,000 letters, to and from Bergman (about half of which have been catalogued so far), as well as the “Work Books,” from 1955 to 2001, which in addition to being available to view online in their original state, like the letters, have also been transcribed and released in elegant book form by Norstedts, the Stockholm publisher with whom Bergman had a long-standing relationship. Another volume contains all Bergman’s articles, essays, and speeches, and lectures. And a further bound book includes numerous “un-published,” “un-filmed,” and “un-performed” items written by Bergman.
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