Liv Ullmann is a true film star and one of those, who can catch your attention, when she performs ”outside” the films in interviews. Her autobiographical book ”Changing” (1977) is highly praised among others by legendary American critic Roger Ebert (link below). In that she writes about her life and work with Ingmar Bergman, with whom she made a dozen films.
Indian director Dheeraj Akolkar has made a film, produced in Norway, about the two, told by Liv Ullmann and based on ”Changing”, love letters from Ingmar to Liv and (a bit) on his ”Laterna Magica”. Ullmann sits in and outside the house on Fårö, the island where Bergman and she lived together for five years and where several of his films are shot. Chaptered with words like Love, Loneliness, Rage, Longing, Friendship the film tells about ”the painful connection” between Liv & Ingmar, words expressed by the latter.
Unfortunately the director has decided to combine/connect her narration to clips from films like ”Persona”, ”Scenes from a Marriage”, ”Skammen” (Shame), ”Saraband” etc. So when she talks about their many tough confrontations, you see Erland Josephson and Ullmann in a scene, or Max von Sydow and Ullmann or… it makes it all sooo banal and tabloid, sentimentalising and reducing an extraordinary director’s extraordinary work with extraordinary actors to something one-dimensional. On top of that music is poured on the images like sugar on a cake, and love letters from Ingmar to Liv are read (by Samuel Fröler) in a tone that is unbearable.
Is it a puristic Nordic comment to a film that obviously is made for an American market? Maybe, luckily there are for other purists several great films about Bergman and his actors and actresses, including wonderful Liv Ullmann, about whom Bergman said, ”you are my Stradivarius”.
Norway, 2012, 85 mins.