'It was a partnership based on trust and love'
Liv Ullman on her special connection with Ingmar Bergman
“I have acted in more films without Ingmar Bergman than with him,” says Liv Ullman. Yet the actress accepts that she is most remembered for the nine projects she has worked with Bergman in the past.
It is because of the special connection the legendary filmmaker and actress shared. “It was a partnership based on trust and love which is very rare. Ingmar and I shared a beautiful creative understanding where words were often not required at all.
In fact, in some of the films Ingmar did with other actresses, he did find himself discomfited at having to explain every little thing,” says the sharp octogenarian, who was recently felicitated at the IIFA for outstanding contribution to international cinema.
Liv started working with Bergman in Persona (1966), and then Passions Of Anna and Cries & Whispers before they broke up. She even had a daughter by him. She went on to act in other films. However, their personal and professional bond was difficult to break.
Liv later worked with other celebrated filmmakers and even directing her own films. This two-times Academy Award nominee, two times BAFTA nominee, one-times Palme D’or nominee and a Golden Globe award winner has also been a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador.
Liv’s autobiography Changing, a book that details her relationship with the path-breaking filmmaker in the ’70s, has now been adapted by Dheeraj Akolkar, in association with sound recordist Resul Pookutty, into a film titled Liv & Ingmar. The film uses her material, and some of Bergman’s personal letters to her and photographs and archives to create a narrative of their stormy passionate partnership.
And the iconic actress is thrilled with what she has seen. “I have realised that I have been so attached to my own memories of my relationship that I was unable to see this love story for what it was. It is the most beautiful gesture of all,” she says in her lively fashion.
The actress has the distinction of being in the last frame of Bergman’s last project Saraband. Liv hadn’t realised that herself till she saw the film. “Then recently Dheeraj brought me a teddy bear that belonged to Ingmar.
It’s been several years since his death. Inside the teddy I found a note I had written to him 10 years ago. And while I was reading the note, I saw a fly buzzing around me. You know, Ingmar and I would often joke about how we would visit each other as flies after we were dead. It made me remember all the things we talked about,” signs off Liv.