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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Seeking Bergman's island retreat

Max Mulgrew
BBC News, Faro, Sweden

Fishermen's huts on the Faro coast
Tracks lead to lovely places, but not to Bergman's home

Ingmar Bergman's whereabouts on the small island of Faro was a jealously guarded secret for years.

Locals would never tell outsiders which of the small dusty tracks led to his luxury hideaway - and that suited the reclusive film director well.

Despite that, I hoped to be lucky and spot his house during a visit from the neighbouring island of Gotland.

The fact that Bergman's death had just been announced added extra poignancy to the trip.

There had been a fascination about where exactly the director lived. He moved to Faro after filming there.

Warm summers

Faro and its larger neighbour Gotland are popular holiday destinations for Swedes.

The islands enjoy warmer, sunnier summers than most other parts of the country.

The light, especially in Faro, is said to have a unique quality - something that would have appealed to the film-maker.

And the islands offer a bucolic retreat from the bustle of Stockholm across the Baltic.

Ingmar Bergman
Bergman died at home in Faro on 30 July

The presence of the legendary Bergman was an additional draw.

News of his death was a hot topic of conversation among Swedes.

Despite his exalted status in the country, there was no sign of widespread mourning on the island when I arrived a few days after his death - no bunches of flowers by the roadside, no tributes at the jetty.

The small ferry carrying trippers across the strait between Gotland and Faro was packed with people heading for the beach and an open air market. There were no signs of collective grief.

Faro has few proper roads, but many small tracks leading across its rocky terrain and through wooded areas.

I had seen a glimpse of Bergman's remote home during a filmed interview shown recently on television, and felt sure I would recognise his place.

But the tracks I followed ended at ordinary houses, at clearings in the woods or at the coast.

Fishing boats in Faro
The light in Faro has a special quality

Eventually a visitor on a beach said he was certain Bergman's home was in a hamlet on the other side of the island.

We drove there, creating clouds of dust as we passed thatched barns and disused windmills.

There was a cluster of farm buildings and numerous rutted tracks leading off in all directions.

A small flock of scrawny, grey, Gotland sheep scampered by, but there were no indications that this may have been the film director's retreat.

Bergman's home remained hidden and maybe that was appropriate.

With his burial in the local churchyard - and I do know where that is - future visitors to Faro will at least know where to find the great man.




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