“My father and Fårö was a great love story,” says Linn on an overcast afternoon in July, pointing out the imposing trees he refused to cut back because he wanted to witness the effects of wind and time on them. And yet, rather than celebrate the panorama outside, Bergman contained and framed it, lining his rooms with small windows that allowed only glimpses of forest and sea. Bergman’s hand is everywhere in evidence at Hammars, his single-story gray-brown wooden house whose stone wall appears to have been chiseled from the untamed landscape. Inside, the overall effect is of respectable, ordered domesticity—from the modest modern Swedish furnishings and wood paneling to the carefully cataloged shelves in the library. (Family members were required to record in a notebook the titles of the books they borrowed.)
To the restless Bergman, order and punctuality were paramount virtues. “When you’re as chaotic as I am, you need a very firm structure in your life,” he told close friend Hanns Rodell, a regular summer guest at Dämba. “Because this is a way of keeping me sane.” He loved to open the grandfather clock in the living room to show his children its inner workings. “Life here was very regimented,” recalls Linn, an acclaimed novelist. “The sound of this house was that clock.”
The house also served as a kind of diary. Bergman often wrote on the walls and furniture, scribbling the dates and times of radio programs he wanted to listen to or phone calls he was to make. On the back of his workroom door, he and Liv made drawings daily about their feelings for each other. Red hearts and faces meant good days; black O’s, sometimes a string of them, signaled darker times. At the end of one line, Liv drew a simple heart, with the words “Liv leaves.” The pair lived together (though never married) for three years with their daughter, Linn, and made two films here, but Bergman’s jealous rages proved stifling. (In his memoir, Bergman writes of Liv’s departure, “One protagonist had moved on, and I was left on the set.”)
Though the next year, Bergman married Ingrid von Rosen—his fifth and final wife—he never removed his and Liv’s love diary. “So that it wouldn’t bleach in the sun and with the years, Ingmar sometimes went and freshened it up,” recalls Liv, whose creative alliance with Bergman lasted 40 years. “He would never change the door. And it meant a lot to me that it was in his workroom and about our life together.”
Unlike Bergman’s previous wives and partners, Ingrid was not involved in the arts and dedicated herself to managing his life. “She was incredible because she lived for all that Ingmar needed and wanted and dreamed about,” says his fourth wife and longtime musical collaborator, Käbi Laretei, who regularly stayed at Dämba during the summer months. The no-nonsense Ingrid not only had his dinner ready every night at six, arranged his phone calls, typed his manuscripts and paid out the alimony checks, she kept the peace in the family—all of the families—even when it meant hosting her husband’s children, ex-wives and mistresses.