A SYNOPSIS OF THE SEDUCTION OF INGMAR BERGMAN
The internationally acclaimed film director Ingmar Bergman traditionally dealt with matters of death, faith, God's existence and the struggle to find love and meaning in our lives. In this musical fantasy, Bergman is confronted by the lure of a mythological Hollywood seemingly at odds with all he stands for – a Hollywood that tempts him and ultimately tries to control him. What starts as an exploration by Bergman of the possible mutual benefits of his working in Hollywood turns into a Kafkaesque nightmare, a nightmare ended with the aid of a most unlikely savior.
As the story begins, Bergman is being announced as the winner of a 1956 Cannes Film Festival Prize for Smiles of a Summer Night, an award that was unexpected. Soon, Bergman feels compelled to enter a Stockholm movie theater to see a dreadful American blockbuster film. As he exits the theater, he finds himself not on the streets of Stockholm, but in Hollywood. A limousine driver is there to take him to a mysterious location.
We learn that he is being driven to an American movie studio to meet with executives about the benefits of his working in Hollywood. Unconvinced, Bergman returns to his hotel, telling the executives he must think about the proposition. Bergman returns to his hotel where he is greeted by the "Hollywood Welcoming Committee", a hooker hired by the studio to persuade him to work in Hollywood.
Meeting the executives the next day at the studio, the studio head takes Bergman to the commissary, where he sees various emigré directors (Lang, Hitchcock, Wilder, and others) dining. They are both happy and successful working in Hollywood, Bergman is told. Bergman says he needs more time to think, to weigh the benefits and liabilities of working in Hollywood.
Back at his hotel room, Bergman imagines his directing an American prima donna, who screams "why do you take that tone with me?"
Bergman decides to take a walk and discovers that both tourist busses and autograph seekers spot him and pursue him . He returns to the hotel.
Pondering his escape from this Hollywood, a Hollywood that Bergman perceives as more of a concept than a real place, he decides that the best plan may be just to walk out the hotel door. We hear the studio head bitterly saying that Bergman will not be permitted to leave Hollywood. Bergman becomes aware that he is being followed by the police, as they discuss how they must prevent him from leaving Hollywood. Bergman runs, and is now in the midst of what seems like a stereotypical Hollywood action chase scene, with helicopters, explosions, car crashes, etc., occurring around him. Seemingly everyone and everything attempting to stop Bergman's leaving is being controlled by the studio chief.
Eluding capture or death, Bergman reaches the beach and asks if God exists and, if he does, would God prove it by sending a messenger to enable his escape from this mythological Hollywood. In the distance, he sees what appears to be the figure of Greta Garbo, apparently divinely sent to help Bergman. She reveals that a movie theater nearby is playing an early Swedish film of hers and that by the two of them watching this film together, he will be able to be transported back home to Sweden.
As the Garbo film ends, Bergman is alone, Garbo gone. He walks out onto the street. He is back in Sweden. He is greeted by cheers of "He's Home.”