Berit Andersson in Stockholm, 11 November 1935.
Attended the Terserus Drama School; Royal Dramatic Theater School,
Stockholm, 1954–56; attended theater school in Malmö.
Married 1) the director Kjell Grede, 1960 (divorced 1973), daughter:
Jenny Matilde; 2) Per Ahlmark, 1978.
1949—began working as an extra for the movies;
Smiles of a Summer Night
, first of several successful films for Ingmar Bergman;
1973—American stage debut in Erich Maria Remarque's
; 1990—debut as stage director, Stockholm.
Best Actress (collectively awarded), Cannes Festival, for
Brink of Life
, 1958; Étoile de Cristal of French Film Academy for Best Actress,
My Sister, My Love
, 1965; British Academy Award, Best Foreign Actress, for
c/o Royal Dramatic Theatre, Storgatan 1, Stockholm 11444, Sweden.
Dum Bom ( Stupid Bom ) (Poppe)
En natt på Glimmingehus ( A Night at Glimminge Castle ) (Wickman); Herr Arnes penningar ( Sir Arne's Treasure ) (Molander)
Sommarnattens leende ( Smiles of a Summer Night ) (Bergman) (as actress); Flickan i regnet ( Girl in the Rain ) (Kjellin); Staden vid vattnen ( Town by the Sea ) (Kjellgren) (as narrator)
Sista paret ut ( Last Pair Out ; Last Couple Out ) (Sjöberg) (as Kerstin); Egen ingång ( Private Entrance ) (Ekman)
Det sjunde inseglet ( The Seventh Seal ) (Bergman) (as Mia); Smultronstället ( Wild Strawberries ) (Bergman) (as Sara); Sommarnöje sökes ( A Summer Place Is Wanted ) (Ekman)
Nära livet ( Brink of Life ; So Close to Life ) (Bergman) (as Hjordis Petterson); Du är mitt äventyr ( You Are My Adventure ) (Olin); Ansiktet ( The Face ; The Magician ) (Bergman) (as Sara)
Den kära leken ( The Love Game ) (Fant)
Bröllopsdagen ( The Wedding Day ) (Fant) (as Sylvia Blom); Djävulens öga ( The Devil's Eye ) (Bergman) (as Britt-Marie)
Karneval ( Carnival ) (Olsson); Lustgården ( The Pleasure Garden ) (Kjellin) (as Anna); Nasilje na Trgu ( Square of Violence ) (Bercovici) (as Maria)
Älskarinnan ( The Swedish Mistress ) (Sjöman) (as girl); Kort är sommaren ( Pan ; Short Is the Summer ) (Henning-Jensen) (as Edvarda Mack)
För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor ( All These Women ; Now about All These Women ) (Bergman) (as Humian); Ön ( The Island ) (Sjöberg)
Juninatt ( June Night ) (Liedholm); Syskonbädd 1782 ( My Sister, My Love ) (Sjöman)
Scusi, lei è favorevole o contrario ( Scusi lei è contrario o favorevole ) (Sordi); Persona ( Masks ) (Bergman) (as Nurse Alma); Duel at Diablo (Ralph Nelson) (as Ellen Grange)
Le Viol ( A Question of Rape ; Overgreppet ) (Doniol-Valcroze) (as Marianne Pescourt)
Flickorna ( The Girls ) (Zetterling and Hughes); Svarta palmkronor ( Black Palm Trees ) (Lindgren)
Storia di una donna ( Story of a Woman ) (Bercovici) (as Karin Ullman); Una estate in quattro ( L'isola ) (Vancini); Taenk på ett tal ( Think of a Number ) (Kjaerulff-Schmidt); En passion ( A Passion ; The Passion of Anna ) (Bergman) (as Eva Vergerus)
The Kremlin Letter (Huston) (as Erika Böck)
Beröringen ( The Touch ) (Bergman) (as Karin Vergerus); Ingmar Bergman (Bjorkman) (as interviewee)
Chelovek s drugoi storoni ( The Man from the Other Side ) (Yegorov)
Scener ur ett äktenskap ( Scenes from a Marriage ) (Bergman—for TV, shortened version shown theatrically) (as Katarina); Afskedens timme ( The Hour of Parting ) (Holst)
La rivale ( The Rival ; My Husband, His Mistress and I ) (Gobbi)
Il pleut sur Santjago ( It Is Raining on Santiago ) (Soto); Blondy ( Germicide ; Vortex ) (Gobbi)
En dåres försvarstal ( A Madman's Defence ) (Grede—for TV)
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden ( Ingen dans på rosor ) (Page) (as Dr. Fried)
An Enemy of the People (Schaefer) (as Catherine Stockmann); Justices (Cayatte); L'Amour en question (Cayatte) (as Catherine Dumas)
The Concorde—Airport '79 ( Airport '80—The Concorde ) (Rich) (as Francine); Twee Vrouwen ( Two Women ; Twice a Woman ; Second Touch ) (Sluizer) (as Laura); Barnförbjudet ( The Elephant Walk ; Not for Children ; The Elephant ) (Bergenstråhle); Quintet (Altman) (as Ambrosia); A Look at Liv ( Norway's Liv Ullmann ; Liv Ullmann's Norway ) (Kaplan—doc)
Marmeladupproret ( Marmalade Revolution ) (Josephson and Nykvist); Prosperous Times
Jag rödnar ( I Blush ) (Sjöman)
Berget på månens baksida (Hjalström)
Exposed (Toback) (as Margaret Carlson); Svarte fugler ( Black Crows ) (Glomm)
Sista leken ( The Last Summer ) (Lindström)
Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (Lamont Johnson—for TV)
Husmenna (Rosma); Pobre Mariposa ( Poor Butterfly ) (De La Torre) (as Gertrud)
Dueños del silencio (Lemos) (as Swedish ambassador); Svart Gryning (Lemos); Babette's Gastebud ( Babette's Feast ) (Axel) (as Lady-in-Waiting)
Remando al Viento ( Rowing with the Wind ) (Suarez)
Fordringsagare ( Creditors ) (Bohm) (as Tekla)
Una Estacion de paso ( Whistle Stop ) (Querejeta) (as Lise)
Dromspel ( Dreamplay ) (Straume) (as Victoria); Il Sogno della farfalla ( The Butterfly's Dream ) (Bellocchio) (as Mother)
I rollerna tre (Olofson—doc) (as herself)
Achot K'tanah Achot G'dolah ( Little Big Sister ) (Narrator); Längtans blåa blomma (—for TV, as Mrs. Tidrén)
Interview by E. Decaux and B. Villien, in Cinématographe (Paris), January 1981.
Björkman, Stig, editor, Bergman on Bergman , New York, 1973.
Burnevich, J., in Séquences (Montreal), February 1967.
"Dialogue on Film: Bibi Andersson," seminar in American Film (Washington, D.C.), March 1977.
Current Biography 1978 , New York, 1978.
"Bibi Andersson," in Ecran (Paris), October 1978.
Parra, D., "Bibi Andersson: 'Eviter la nostalgie . . . ,"' in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), June 1990.
Lahr, John, "Ingmar's Woman," in New Yorker , 17 May 1993.
* * *
While still in her teens, Bibi Andersson began making her rounds of the film studios in Sweden; and her first important role was as an extra in a publicity film made by the man who discovered her, Ingmar Bergman. To further her career she took lessons at the Stockholm Drama School, and made her stage debut in a potato cellar that was the best known avant-garde theater in Stockholm in the early 1950s.
Following her theater training which included study at the Royal Dramatic Theater School from 1954–56, and a series of bit parts in films, Andersson made her first memorable screen appearance in a small role in Smiles of a Summer Night , thereby joining the wonderful company of actors who played in Bergman's films of the 1950s and 1960s.
Like other European-trained actors, Andersson's work is not an emotionally cathartic experience, but rather an exercise of knowledge and technique, as her versatility proves. Following her role in The Seventh Seal , as the wife in the pair of fairground innocents who survive the destruction of the knight and his family after the apocalypse, she played the hitchhiker in Wild Strawberries , again projecting a youthful hopefulness and innocence. Her portrayal of the unmarried mother in Brink of Life revealed a broader range and won her an award at Cannes (along with Ingrid Thulin for the same film).
With the exception of a role in Now about All These Women , Andersson did not work with Bergman for six years. Their collaboration resumed with her most important film, Persona , in which she established herself as an actress of international stature. This masterpiece owes much to Andersson's brilliance and is evidence of her greater emotional experience than was apparent in her earlier work. Playing opposite Liv Ullmann as the mute Elisabeth, Andersson was required to carry the dialogue of the film. A mutual transference of personae occurs, signified by the merging of their images on screen. The film required of Andersson an enormous extension of her talent; her submission to the film's somewhat cruel objectivity attested to Andersson's dedication—not only to the aims of Bergman's films but also to the demands made by a role of extraordinary emotional complexity. The characterization did much to erase the rather condescending view of her as a pleasant, lightweight actress, and elevated her to the first rank of Bergman's ensemble, along with Thulin and Ullmann.
Andersson then made a number of films with other Swedish directors, and worked again with Bergman in a supporting part in The Passion of Anna , in a central role opposite Elliott Gould in The Touch , and in a brief appearance in one episode of Scenes from a Marriage , which would be the last films they made together. In The Touch she turned in a performance that established her, according to one critic, as the warmest and most free-spirited of Bergman's women, both robust and compassionate.
Through her connection with Bergman, Andersson has been associated with Sweden's most famous international director, and through her marriage to the director Kjell Grede she has been linked to the New Wave of Swedish film. Interestingly enough she never made a theatrical film with Grede, but did appear in Vilgot Sjöman's My Sister, My Love , Lars-Magnus Lindgren's Black Palm Trees , and Mai Zetterling's The Girls . Like Ullmann and Thulin she has also appeared in a number of international films, usually wasting her talent. In such movies as John Huston's The Kremlin Letter , Sergio Gobbi's Blondy , Anthony Page's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden , George Schaefer's An Enemy of the People , and Robert Altman's Quintet , Andersson has not been able to achieve the level of performance attained in the finest of her Swedish films.
Andersson has also performed in numerous stage productions, including her 1973 Broadway debut in Otto Preminger's Full Circle , After the Fall , Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , and The Night of the Tribades . She performed in Bergman's 1993 production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt , and in his 1995 production of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale , both at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also directed a play in Stockholm about Strindberg's women, and a production of Sam Shepard's True West at the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden.
—Charles L. P. Silet, updated by Kelly Otter