Remembering international arthouse cinema icon Bibi Andersson: Frequent Ingmar Bergman actress & four-time ‘Swedish Oscar’ winner
International arthouse cinema icon Bibi Andersson, a blonde beauty best known for her 14 collaborations with filmmaker Ingmar Bergman – 11 big-screen features and three made-for-TV productions – died at age 83 on April 14. The Stockholm-born actress (Nov. 11, 1935) had been in ill health since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2009.
Despite her association with Ingmar Bergman’s work, during Andersson’s nearly six-decade career – from 1951 (a bit part in Alf Sjöberg’s widely admired film version of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie) to 2009 (Ferran Audí’s Henrik Ibsen-based The Frost) – she collaborated with a wide range of filmmakers in projects encompassing a variety of genres.
Her performance in Vilgot Sjöman’s 1962 drama The Mistress, co-starring Bergman regular Max von Sydow, earned her the Best Actress award at the following year’s Berlin Film Festival.
She was also seen in Gustaf Molander’s Sir Arne’s Treasure (1954); Mai Zetterling’s all-star The Girls (1964), opposite fellow Bergman stock company actors Harriet Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Erland Josephson; John Huston’s commercially and critically disappointing spy drama The Kremlin Letter (1969); and Anthony Page’s commercial disappointment I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), dealing with psychiatric patient Kathleen Quinlan.
Also: George Schaefer’s little-seen Ibsen adaptation An Enemy of the People (1978), starring Steve McQueen; Robert Altman’s mind-boggling Quintet (1979), as part of an international (U.S./Europe) all-star cast (Vittorio Gassman, Fernando Rey, Brigitte Fossey) headed by Paul Newman; and Marco Bellocchio’s Il sogno della farfalla (1994).
Most inexplicable of all, Bibi Andersson could also be found among those caught in the mind-numbing turbulence of David Lowell Rich’s critical and box office disaster The Concorde… Airport ’79 (1979), alongside Alain Delon, Sylvia Kristel, George Kennedy, Mercedes McCambridge, Martha Raye, Sybil Danning, Charo, and countless others.
Four ‘Swedish Oscar’ wins
The Swedish cinema icon won four Guldbagge Awards – the “Swedish Oscars” – for the following:
- As Best Actress for Bergman’s psychological drama Persona (1966), in which nurse Andersson and nervous-breakdown-patient Liv Ullmann develop a curiously symbiotic relationship. Persona also earned Andersson the National Society of Film Critics’ 1967 Best Actress award and a British Academy Award nomination (also for Vilgot Sjöman’s Syskonbädd 1782).
- As Best Supporting Actress for Måns Herngren and Hannes Holm’s Shit Happens / Det blir aldrig som man tänkt sig (2000).
- As Best Supporting Actress for Klaus Härö’s Elina: As If I Wasn’t There / Elina – Som om jag inte fanns (2002).
- As Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a problematic abbess in Peter Flinth’s big-budget (by Swedish film standards) period epic Arn: The Knight Templar (2008).
Bibi Andersson-Ingmar Bergman movies
Besides Persona, Bibi Andersson’s Ingmar Bergman collaborations were the following:
- Smiles of a Summer Night (1955).
- The Seventh Seal (1957).
- Wild Strawberries (1957).
- The Magician (1958).
- Brink of Life (1958), which earned Andersson a joint Best Actress award – alongside co-stars Eva Dahlbeck, Ingrid Thulin, and Barbro Hiort af Ornäs – at that year’s Cannes Film Festival. (Bergman won the Best Director prize.)
- Rabies (1958, TV).
- The Devil’s Eye (1960).
- Mr. Sleeman Is Coming (1960, TV).
- All These Women (1964).
- The Passion of Anna (1969).
- The Touch (1971), with much English dialogue – Elliott Gould and Max von Sydow were her co-stars – and generally considered one of the filmmaker’s minor efforts.
- Scenes from a Marriage (1973, originally made for TV). A big-screen version was shown in the U.S. in 1974, earning Andersson the National Society of Film Critics’ Best Supporting Actress award.