Film scores

Soundtrack review: Ingrid Bergman: In her own words (Michael Nyman – 2015)

ingrid

“Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words” (Swedish: Jag är Ingrid) is a 2015 Swedish documentary film about Ingrid Bergman directed by Stig Björkman. The movie offers a captivating look behind the scenes of the remarkable life of a young Swedish girl who became one of the most celebrated actresses of American and World cinema. The score is written by minimalist genius Michael Nyman and we don’t get enough scores from him.

Michael Nyman is a name I’ve always regarded among my favorite composers. I discovered him when I was listening to a lot of Philipp Glass and his minimalistic piano moods have always appealed to me. I say piano moods because that was my first contact with him but this score has me from the violin dominated hello “How I should live”. I am just stunned at how quietly beautiful this opening theme is. It hits the perfect balance between beauty, melancholy, doubt and sadness. The composer doesn’t need more than a couple of instruments to make this poignant and emotional statement.

The main character of this documentary was an elegant and complex woman and Michael Nyman must have watched a lot of movies and interviews because to me he nailed the heart of this story. “Ingrid the star” keeps the forest of strings sound but doesn’t go extremely deep as if to show that the star part was just a shallow view and the character was so much more than that.

I am charmed and attracted by the permanent shadow of sadness that Nyman injects in every cue. This make the score feel personal and intimate and I can associate the sound with the character from now on. The chamber music arrangements also add to this feeling. There is not a lot of variety in the music. It’s as if “Ingrid Bergmann in her own words” is one single main theme evolving, living, moving but never losing its core. Kind of like a person faced with the pressures and pleasures of life under the spotlight who, in the end, through all the changes, dramas and joys remains the same girl who started the journey. I love what Michael Nyman did with the subject and how he managed to mirror the complexity and many faces of one person with his minimalistic music style. Absolutely gorgeous score this one.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 46

Album excellence: 72%

Highlights:

How Should I Live

First Marriage

I Don’t Demand Too Much

Pia

Rossellini

Bergman vs Bergman

Children of Ingrid Bergman

I Was the Third Child

1-100

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

2 Comments

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  • What a lovely review thank you. I have yet to see the film but have been listening to the soundtrack a lot as of late. I first put it on in the background for doing university essays. But I was too distracted! Nothing about it is background