collaborated on some of the least romantic films ever (see Hour of the Wolf, for instance).
Yet, Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann became the first couple of
international art cinema. The Swedish
auteur’s romance with his Norwegian muse would not last, but their relationship
continued to evolve and endure. Ullmann
reflects on each stage of her career-defining association with Bergman in Dheeraj
Akolkar’s Liv & Ingmar (trailer here), which screens as
part of the 50th New York Film Festival’s Cinema Reflected sidebar.
a difference a few years and a more northern latitude make. Whereas Ingrid Bergman was pilloried for
leaving her husband to take up with Roberto Rossellini, Ullmann essentially did
the same thing with Bergman, but with no attendant outrage from the world
press. As she tells it, she was widely
encouraged by friends to do so. Indeed,
the film is entirely presented from Ullmann’s perspective, relying almost
entirely on her narration and extended interview sequences to tell their story.
there is no score settling in L&I. Even after the dissolution of their intimate cohabitation,
the legends of Scandinavian cinema remained on good terms, eventually becoming
the closest of friends. There is
definitely a lesson in that, especially if you think documentary crews will one
day be interviewing your former lovers.
However, it might not make the most compelling viewing.
still offers some insight into the dark places manifested in Bergman’s films,
but that is about as far as the film goes.
As a result, L&I is
permeated with a fatal sense of respectability.
Granted, nobody wants or needs to see a great filmmaker like Bergman
trashed by an ex. The fact that he and Ullmann
continued to mean so much to each other is quite touching and nearly the extent
of the film’s takeaway.
Scenes of Ullmann revisiting Bergman’s Fårö
Island home give the documentary a
vivid sense of place and there are plenty of tellingly illustrative clips from
their films. L&I is quite a heartfelt tribute, but as a work of cinema in
its own right it is hardly essential (though it is an interesting film to see
in conjunction with Francesco Patierno’s thematically related War of the Volcanoes, also screening
during this year’s NYFF). Mostly recommended
for dedicated Bergman and Ullmann admirers, Liv
& Ingmar screens this coming Monday (10/1) and Tuesday the 10th
during the 2012 New York Film Festival.
Labels: Documentary, Ingmar Bergman, Liv Ullmann, NYFF '12, Scandinavian Cinema