The only major award Bibi Andersson won for her indelible work with Ingmar Bergman was at Cannes

Posted on April 18, 2019


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When news came of Bibi Andersson’s passing, I Googled up the celebrated actress to see how many acting awards she’d won in her career. I expected to find a host of nominations and wins for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman alone (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Passion of Anna, Persona…). Which director, after all, has peered so penetratingly into the female soul, and, in the process, extracted “performances” that go far beyond any simplistic definition of acting? Think of the scene in Persona where the Andersson character, a nurse, recalls a sexual encounter at the beach. There are no cutaways, no flashbacks. It’s just Andersson talking. Pauline Kael said the passage “is so much more erotic than all of Ulysses in that it demonstrates what can be done on the screen with told material… the excitement is in how she tells it… Andersson’s almost fierce reverie has that kind of beauty.” (I wrote about this scene here.)

Persona got Andersson a Best Actress award from the US-based National Society of Film Critics (they also gave her a Best Supporting Actress for Scenes from a Marriage) and a Guldbagge award (the Swedish equivalent of the Oscars). She won three more Guldbagge awards, though none were for Bergman’s films. But let’s look at the major awards, at least the ones we outsiders recognise as major. Andersson won the Silver Bear at Venice, for The Mistress (1962, Swedish), directed by Vilgot Sjöman. A year later, incidentally, Sjöman made the documentary, Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, in which the great filmmaker defined what makes a great actor: “An ideal actor is one who can turn on full concentration in a split second. And who can then, after each take, right after you say ‘cut’, turn it off, like switching off a light.”

Continued at the link above.

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