Faro Document (Ingmar Bergman, 1970, Sweden)

     Faro Document, the first of only two documentaries that Ingmar Bergman ever made, is an interesting curio in the director's filmography. Faro is an island off of Sweden's southeastern coast in the Baltic Sea, home to just under 500 residents as of 2014. Bergman first came to the island while scouting locations for his film Through a Glass Darkly. While he originally had no intention of shooting there, he came to fall in love with the island and ended up living there for 40 years. Faro Document was shot in 1969, at an interesting point in Swedish history. The post-war economic boom in Sweden had heated up, and small rural communities like Faro were losing residents rapidly. 

    Bergman brings a distinct eye to Faro Document, although the subject matter of the film is rather normal. Bergman interviews various residents of the town, including local fishermen, farmers, the post office worker, and others. It is clear that the prospects of Faro's future are not looking great. It seems that most things are being relocated to a town with a larger population. One resident complains about the tourists ruining the community. In contrast to the older residents of the community, mostly shot in black and white, Bergman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist shoot the community's schoolchildren in color, with a pop music soundtrack. Interviews with the kids show that most want to leave Faro and have no desire to stay in the community.

    The film concludes with perhaps Bergman's most overtly political statement in a film, calling for Sweden to allocate more resources to small and rural communities like Faro. Bergman followed up this film 10 years later with his second documentary, Faro Document 1979. Faro Document will be interesting to Bergman fans who are aware of the great auteur's association with this legendary island.

7/10

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