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A modern Scandinavian takes on Bergman

December 22, 2010 |  7:03 pm

The Danish director Susanne Bier, who was nominated last week for a Golden Globe, thinks that a great number of her cohorts get it wrong.

"Many European filmmakers alienate the audience," said the director, who made the excellent comic melodrama "After the Wedding" back in 2006 and was just nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for her new film, "In a Better World." "They don't think about engaging people."

Er, it could be more than a little interesting, then, to see Bier attempt a movie about the ultimate European filmmaker.

The director is tackling the Scandinavian white whale, Ingmar Bergman, developing a biopic about the Swedish filmmaker whose movies about mortality and loneliness were so heavy that he once said he couldn't watch them himself.

Bier told 24 Frames that she hopes to avoid the hazards of most artists' life stories. "I don't want to do a typical biopic, which is boring to me," the director told 24 Frames from Thailand, where she's currently vacationing. "What's fascinating is to dive into an artist like Bergman and realize how difficult it was for him to  have a life,"  she said of the man who had five wives and nine children. (Bier describes a man who was "reaching out in relationships" but never managed to connect.)

The filmmaker said that although the popular view of Bergman -- who directed bleak meditations such as "The Seventh Seal," "The Silence" and "Cries and Whispers" -- is of a man tormented by his own existential inquiries, her movie will look for the light within. "He had a dark sensibility but he was also someone with a great sense of humor," she said. Then, not quite sounding convinced herself, she added, "He was almost childlike in his views and his abilities."

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ingmar Bergman on the set of "Saraband." Credit: Bengt Wanselius / Sony Pictures Classics