Two pivotal movie events came together this week to inspire this tribute to one of cinema’s greatest stars, Ingrid Bergman. One month before the release of the newest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, the Turner Classic Movie website is celebrating “Trailblazing Women in Cinema”.
For the 1974 version of Christie’s quintessential whodunit, director Sidney Lumet gathered what Entertainment Weekly later called the greatest international all-star cast in film history. Of the illustrious cast, Ingrid Bergman stood out in a small but scene-stealing role of a withering religious zealot suspected of murder. At that year’s Oscars, Bergman won Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first star in Academy history to win three acting Oscars for performances in both lead and supporting categories.
Bergman was a gracious winner, spending most of her acceptance speech apologizing to favored nominee Valentina Cortese for taking her Oscar. The gesture was pure Bergman. Of the many obstacles life and the public erected along her road to and through stardom, Bergman was always a class act.
She suffered horrible atrocities as a child, and though few knew the personal tragedies that robbed her of her parents and later guardians, she harnessed the pain and anguish of those early years to create rich, textured performances that made her an international superstar throughout the 1940s. After her four Oscar nominations and a Best Actress win for Gaslight, Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini fell in love. Their affair, which led to each of them divorcing their spouses to marry each other, prompted her peers and the American public to shut her out of Hollywood.
Certainly the childhood abandonment she felt at the death of her parents and then guardians must have resurfaced when her American fans, studios, and film community shunned her. Without confrontation, she responded to their dismissal by making movies in Europe.
In 1956, the Academy and Hollywood apologized to Bergman by honoring her with her second Best Actress Oscar, for Anastasia. A bit confused by both turns of events, Bergman noted how somehow to America she “went from saint to whore back to saint again”.
Later in life, a reporter asked Bergman if she had any regrets about her life. Her wistful reply surprised many. “I don’t regret a thing I’ve done,” she said. “I only regret the things I didn’t do.”
That perspective has inspired me to take action on many dreams and goals I might never have fulfilled. We have so many opportunities to do what inspires us. To realize our dreams, we must never let the din of public opinion drown out the still, small voice that is leading us to a life that can be rich and full and trailblazing.
When you hear the small voice of inspiration suggesting an action or goal, heed it and see where it leads. People may shun you. Your actions may result in reshaping your life and career on another continent. But that only opens worlds you would otherwise never have known. Such are the trials, and great fortune, of trailblazers like Ingrid Bergman.