This practice inspired Ingrid Bergman’s work for years, until her first collaboration with Italian neorealist Roberto Rossellini in 1949. Bergman had been shooting films in America since “Intermezzo” and with directors who all seemed to prioritize his “best side”. But when she moved to Italy, she found herself working with a radically different type of filmmaker.
“The very first time Mr Rossellini raised his camera to film me, I said, ‘You know, my best side’ and he looked at me and he said, ‘Your best side? I’m making a movie, and, I mean, I don’t care! I will be on the side that suits my action. And I thought he was right. It’s true. I mean, actors shouldn’t be so conceited that they always, always have to look their best. They should try to be good in the role and play it as sincerely as possible. , and try to forget what they look like.”
It’s interesting how the concept of the bright side has changed since then – and how it clearly hasn’t – and how deeply it has permeated Hollywood. The growing trend of de-glamming actresses for “gritty” roles, like Charlize Theron in “Monster,” Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer,” or even casting actresses for a spin in a biopic — has been interesting to watch. The process puts some emphasis on the veracity of the performance, but it’s also impossible to separate that from the actor’s appearance. In a way, vanity will always have an influence on cinema, whether filmmakers are aware of it or not. It’s just a matter of how that conceit is used to serve the story.