×

Recalling My Time as Ingmar Bergman and Jeanne Moreau’s Go-Between

As the world celebrates the centenary of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, Danish journalist and Variety contributor Jorn Rossing Jensen remembers snagging a rare interview with the Swedish director in 1976

This year marks the centenary of the birth of legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, which was celebrated at this year’s 30th Göteborg Intl. Film Festival.

In 1976 Bergman had organized a press conference in Oslo, where he and Liv Ullmann would talk about their upcoming film, ”Autumn Sonata.”

On the day of the talk my good friend, Danish director Peter Refn, was set to open a French film festival at his Grand Theatre at Copenhagen. ”Perfect,” I thought: ”Brunch in Copenhagen, press conference in Oslo, then back to the party in Copenhagen.”

At the Grand, Refn introduced me to French actress Jeanne Moreau, who was there with her first film as a director, ”Lumière.” When I apologized for not being able to stay for the screening – and I told her the reason – she asked me: ”Can I come with you?”

“Pardon?”

“Can I go with you to see Bergman?”

“Of course I can’t decide what you are doing, but I am sure Refn will kill me if I abduct his star director.”

“O.K. then, can you take him a letter?”

Moreau wrote the letter, and when I got to Stockholm, I left a message for Bergman saying I had a letter from Jeanne Moreau.

After the press conference at the Royal Hotel, with several hundred journalists, Bergman rose. “I understand one of you has a letter to me from Jeanne Moreau.”

I went up and gave it to him, told him how I got it, and asked him for an interview later – he usually gave few.

“You sort this out,” he said to his secretary, asking me, ”Will you see Jeanne Moreau again?” When I told him I was going back to the festival in Copenhagen, he asked me to take her a letter. Now it was Bergman’s turn to write, and later that day I gave it to her over a a glass of red at the Grand Café.

Three weeks later Bergman’s Swedish production company, Cinematograph, called, saying I could interview him at Stockholm’s Royal Dramaten Theatre, where he was head of drama. He was waiting for me at the entrance and we went to his office where he took of his shoes, put his feet on the table, and we talked for two hours.

A couple years later, Bergman donated 46 boxes of memorabilia to the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm. A friend of mine, Aina Bellis, was sorting them out, and she showed me the script of ”Fanny and Alexander.” On each page he had drawn red devils, and on some shopping lists.

“It is true that whenever Bergman and Moreau are in the same city, they meet,” she told me, “I don’t know why.”

I wondered what their relationship was, but it took me several years to find out from a Canadian film critic and Bergman expert, whom I met at the Cannes Festival.

After Moreau had ended a passionate love affair with French director Louis Malle, she felt she was the unhappiest woman in the world. ”Who will understand me? Ingmar Bergman,” she thought, having seen his film ”The Summer with Monika,” which was to her a revelation of cinema.

She wrote him a letter, then another, and finally after the third, he responded. They met for the first time in Berlin, which started a lifelong friendship. Unfortunately, as she once told Nice Martin in Cannes, ”I always wanted to make a film with Ingmar Bergman, but it never happened.”

Bergman died in 2007, aged 89; Moreau in 2016, also at 89.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras to Receive San Sebastian Career Achievement Donostia Award

    Costa-Gavras, the Greek-born France-based director of some of the most famed movies of political cinema, from 1969’s “Z” to 1981’s “Missing,” will receive a career achievement Donostia Award at this September’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. The filmmaker will collect his prize on Sept. 21 at a ceremony held at San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia, where [...]

  • Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Leonard (Bill

    China Box Office: New Animations No Match For 'Nezha' Domination

    Chinese animation “Nezha” continued its run as China’s biggest hit of the summer, maintaining its top spot at the box office even 25 days into its run with a weekend gross of $41.2 million. The tally made it this weekend’s fourth highest grossing film worldwide. Meanwhile, two other new animated titles performed unremarkably. The flop of [...]

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content