Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Liv & Ingmar
Directed by Dheeraj Akolar and written by Akolar and Ragnhild Lund, Liv & Ingmar is a film about the collaboration and relationship between actress Liv Ullmann and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman that lasted for 42 years. The film is a documentary about one of the most revered collaborations between filmmaker and actor as well as the relationship they had when they’re not making films. The result is a fascinating film from Dheeraj Akolar on one of cinema’s great collaborative relationships.
Considered one of the finest actor/director collaborations, Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann and Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman had made a total of 10 films together from 1966’s Persona to 2003’s Saraband along with two films Ullmann had directed with scripts written by Bergman. The two also had a personal relationship that went on for 42 years where five of those years from 1965 to 1970 lead to an intimate one that would include the addition of a daughter in writer Linn Ullmann. The film is about that relationship through good and bad times with Liv Ullmann talking about her time with Bergman from the moment they met to his final days towards his death on July 30, 2007. While the film focuses mainly on their personal relationship rather than their collaboration which is interesting but it tends to meander as it doesn’t dwell more on their work together on a film set.
Dheeraj Akolar’s direction is largely straightforward in the way he films Ullmann discussing her time with Bergman as well as the films they made where it’s broken into chapters by certain themes of their relationship and its evolution. Even as Ullmann travels to Faro Island where Bergman lived for much of his life with some insight about his marriage at the time they had met as she didn’t say anything about his wife at the time feeling it would be disrespectful. With the help of cinematographer Hallvard Braein, Akolar would film many of those locations as well as Ullmann’s native home country of Norway as it would also feature drawings that Bergman made along with shots of letters Bergman wrote with Samuel Froler providing the voice of Bergman for those letters.
Akolar would capture the atmosphere of some of those locations with the aid of sound designers Amrit Pritam Dutta and Resul Pookutty along with the sound of Bergman’s voice and some of Ullmann’s narration while editor Tushar Ghogale would compile a lot of archival and rare footage to play into Ullmann’s rise to stardom including her brief time in Hollywood during the mid-to-late 1970s. Even the behind-the-scenes footage of the films that Ullmann and Bergman did together along with clips from those films appear. Accompanying some of the scenes and interviews feature a piano score music by Stefan Nilsson who provides a somber tone to the piano as it play into some of the drama that occurred in Ullmann’s relationship with Bergman but also in those final years in how close they were.
Liv & Ingmar is a stellar film from Dheeraj Akolar. While it’s a documentary that fans of Ingmar Bergman’s work would be interested in, it is flawed due to its emphasis on Bergman’s personal life with Liv Ullmann rather than their filmmaking collaboration. Still, it does provide some insight into Bergman as an artist as well as why Ullmann was considered one of his great collaborators. In the end, Liv & Ingmar is a terrific film from Dheeraj Akolar.
Related: Bergman Island
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