Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ingrid Bergman in For Whom the Bell Tolls


Ingrid Bergman received her first Oscar nomination for playing Maria, a raped young girl in the movie, based on Ernest Hemingway's novel, For Whom The Bell Tolls. I think Ingrid (along with her legendary performance in Casablanca) must have been the only real competitor of Jennifer Jones. After the Oscars, when Jennifer Jones told Ingrid that she should have won, Ingrid said "No. Your Bernadette was better than my Maria." Well, Ingrid Bergman was surely really gracious and I admire her for admitting not being the best one (remember her 1974 speech). Those were days when stars had class.

For Whom The Bell Tolls is a long movie, above all. It's very huge and the whole thing has a very epic feeling. It's really shocking that neither this nor The Song Of Bernadette was able to beat Casablanca, a seemingly smaller movie. I would say it's great that this movie lost as it's incredibly boring sometimes. I mean the technical part is fine, even by today's standards but the whole thing just didn't work with me. The performances aer fine: Gary Cooper's acting is kind of boring, he just overdoes his usual on-screen habits. Katina Paxinu is fine but I'm much less enthusiastic about her this time so I might join the Gladys Cooper camp. Akim Tamiroff is strong but not that great.

And there's Ingrid Bergman. I know that nowadays many people are bashing her (and it's kind of painful for me, I'll admit) but for me she'll always remain special because of many of hers performances. I mean how can you not be blown away byAutumn Sonata? How can anyone forget her in Casablanca where she says goodbye to Humphrey Bogart? However, nobody can deny that she has a very unique presence, which may not appeal to some but it certainly does for me.

Ernest Hemingway always wanted Ingrid to play the role of Maria. I can easily see why. I think nobody else could have portrayed Maria's fragile personality the way like Ingrid did. For example, I just don't see Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis in this part (or any other actres of that era). Ingrid's presence fits Maria perfectly, in my opinion. Her radiant, very emotional acting was needed for this movie. While Gary Cooper's acting seems to be wooden, Ingrid is more emotional and personally, I found it easier to relate to Maria or understand her emotions.

However, I'll also have to admit that this performance's success depends on whether you like Ingrid or not. If you love her, you'll be impressed but if you dislike her, you'll simply hate this performance. She's very "Ingrid" here. Everything that's criticised about her is there in this movie. The teary eyes and everything that drive some of Ingrid crazy. Thank God, I'm a fan of hers since I am one of those who were quite impressed. I'm not saying it's one of her best, you can't say that about her nominated works (except for Autumn Sonata and Gaslight) but it's a very fine performance, in my opinion, which stands out from the cast.

What I liked the most about this performance is the purity of Maria's character. She's a person who's gone through some really horrible things. It's a very memorable scene where she talks about how her parents were killed. Again, it must be a horrible, unbearable moment for the haters but for me, it all worked. I think she did quite well at showing Maria's ambivalent feelings. Ingrid is not a techincal performer at all (it's a problem that whenever she needed an accent, she used her own) but it's always the emotions that get me. Sometimes she's a bit much, indeed but I still cannot resist her because of her radiance and beauty. Her beauty is quite simply irresistable. You just cannot take your eyes off her and that helps her overcome the gaps in the technical part.

I was also happy that she didn't get lost in her big movie. She was always significant enough for me to pay attention to her (OK, that's the point of my reviews but at least I didn't have to struggle). In some of the scenes, her presence was really magical and I completely forgot about everything else. That's a big achievement, I think.

It might seem like that I'm collecting many things to prove that I like her (because of my love for Ingrid) but I'm indeed quite fond of this performance. It's nothing groundbreaking but it's quite impressive and interesting. Ingrid does her usual routine and the result of it was positive for me. Not great but certainly good.
What do you think?

10 comments:

Fritz said...

And my prediction is ruined :-)

I expected you to like her much more. Personally, I think she has some moments but it's overall rather weak.

hey deanie said...

I love her and I'm glad you liked her too. :-) Yay!

Sage Slowdive said...

Bleck...

I know you're a fan, but is there really one could make an argument for this performance?

Louis Morgan said...

I must agree with Sage on this one.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sage, this is really an underwhelming performance, I would give it a 3 and only because of my love for Ingrid.

dinasztie said...

It's true that this is not the performance of Ingrid's lifetime and it's not that strong but I still liked her. And as I said, I totally understand the haters. She's really "Ingrid" here, if you know what I mean.

SUBSIM said...

Wait, why would anyone hate Berman? She was fabulous.

Lukas Miller said...

Who would you have voted for if Ingrid Bergman had been nominated for Casablanca instead of For Whom the Bell Tolls? Bergman (Casablanca) or Jennifer Jones? (Bernadette)

dinasztie said...

Lukas: Ingrid. :)

Lukas Miller said...

I agree. I love Jennifer Jones as Bernadette and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lazlo equally and if it had been one or the other winning I would have been happy with it. Same with Katina Paxinou as the old gypsy lady and Gladys Cooper as the mean nun. Strong

I suppose if I had to break my beloved tie between Bergman and Jones I'd vote for Bergman because she got to play a more complex character.