Saturday, June 20, 2015

1944: Ingrid Bergman for Gaslight

In this profoundly disturbing, incredibly well-done movie, Ingrid Bergman plays Paula, an orphan whose aunt and guardian is brutally murdered. Ten years later, with the murder still unsolved, Paula moves back into the house where it happened with her new husband, Gregory. At first she's happy, but Gregory keeps telling her that she's very ill, and when things start to get moved and go missing for no apparent reason, Paula begins to wonder if she is going insane.

As I mentioned a couple of years ago, I absolutely love this movie, and my favorite thing about it is Bergman's performance. She is thoroughly convincing in every stage of Paula's journey, especially as she descends into the madness of her husband's creation. This is a gradual process, and she portrays each step perfectly, as her facial expressions and mannerisms slowly lose their vigor until she starts to resemble a zombie. I also love the way she interacts with the other characters, and how her interactions change when she thinks she's crazy. There aren't very many other characters in this movie, since for most of it Gregory confines Paula to their house. Before that, she seems rather outgoing and friendly, but after several months of only interacting with her abusive husband, the flirtatious maid who hates her, and the nearly-deaf cook, she becomes awkward and suspicious around others. I think it would have been easy to turn Paula into merely a weak victim, but even though she comes close she never completely loses her strength, as she demonstrates in the climax, which is one of my favorite movie scenes ever. While this is certainly not a feel-good film, it's a very well-told story. In my opinion, it's also Ingrid Bergman's best performance, which is definitely saying something.

Ingrid Bergman is one of the most talented actresses ever to grace the silver screen. She was always impressive, even though some of her roles weren't that great - for example, she got all of the cheesy lines in Casablanca - so it's particularly amazing to watch her play a part that's as well-written and interesting as her role in Gaslight. She was nominated for a total of seven Oscars (six Best Actress and one Best Supporting Actress). This was her second nomination. She was nominated the previous year for For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the following year for The Bells of St. Mary's. She was nominated without winning once more, for 1948's Joan of Arc, before winning again for 1956's Anastasia. She then won Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express of 1974, and was nominated for Best Actress once more for 1978's Autumn Sonata. I haven't seen Anastasia yet and I've heard that it's kind of boring, but we'll see what I think when I get there. In the meantime, the next winner is Joan Crawford.

No comments:

Post a Comment