Rossellini: Ingrid Bergman had made peace with America

Actress Isabella Rossellini, daughter of Ingrid Bergman, says her mother died without resentment at the US after being chased out from the country over a scandalous romance in 1950

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Isabella Rossellini, the Jury President of Film selection “Un Certain Regard,” at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes,  talked about the Swedish film icon’s life.

Bergman's career included films directed by Jean Renoir, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock and Roberto Rossellini, who became her second husband and father of three of her children.

Her love affair with the Italian film maker while they were both still married sparked outrage in the United States with a senator even saying she was "a powerful influence for evil."

"Mama of course was very hurt because she could not see her daughter [Pia] from her first marriage. She was hurt by the scandal, she felt she paid such a high price for it but eventually it was resolved. She made peace with it," Isabella Rossellini told Reuters on Sunday.

The Italian actress was speaking ahead of the release at the Cannes Film Festival of "Ingrid Bergman in her own words," a documentary film about her mother's life.

Cannes is paying tribute to Bergman, who would have turned 100 this year. A picture of the Swedish actress, who died in 1982 from breast cancer, features on the festival's official poster.

"Mama wrote a letter to my father saying 'I want to work with you' and she ended the letter saying 'in Italian I can only say ti amo [I love you]' and of course the press used that to say women are sexual predators," Rossellini said, explaining the origins of the scandal.

"In 1949 they made a first film together, 'Stromboli', and they fell in love and my mother became pregnant with my brother Roberto before she could obtain a divorce.

"This created a big scandal and she was chased out of America because they felt that foreigners and stars, we come to America, and then behave immorally and are bad examples to the younger generations."

Bergman, however, was not one to live in the shadows and she made a triumphal return in 1956, winning her second Academy Award for best actress, in Anatole Litvak's "Anastasia". In 1974 she collected her third Oscar - for the best supporting actress in "Murder on the Orient Express."

The new documentary uses 16-mm archive footage showing the actress, presented as a carefree, joyful and bold character, behind the scenes on film sets but also at home with her family.

"She showed that women are independent, that women want to tell their own story, want to take initiative but sometimes they can't because sometimes our social culture doesn't allow women to break away from certain rules," said Rossellini.

Bergman's deep sense of freedom ("I don't want any roots", she once said) took her around the world and her "naturalness" as an actress, according to Rossellini, earned her parts with the world's best directors.

"She was able to integrate so many cultures... she is not even American but she is totally part of American culture like she is totally part of the Swedish, Italian, French, European film making," said Rossellini.

"She worked in five languages, she worked with directors from my father to Hitchcock, from Renoir to Victor Fleming, from [George] Cukor to Ingmar Bergman, it gave her a range that is probably bigger than other Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn, to give one example."