Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Faces of Liv Ullmann

While I was having my blog talk with Emily last week, Liv Ullmann had the audacity to turn 70 years old! Can you believe that? She possesses one of my favorite faces in cinema. And if you are an aspiring screenwriter and you have not one clue about the films of Ingmar Bergman or the famous Liv Ullmann who starred in most of his films, then you must duly make yourself familiar. (Don’t watch them all at once. Just saying, they can be a little, uhh, psychologically devastating.) But back to Liv’s face, of which Danny Miller wrote:

Oh, how grateful I am that this brilliant actress has never gone under the knife and transformed herself into one of those taut-skinned wrinkle-free cat-eyed robots with tattooed lip liner, teeth as unnaturally white as her patent leather Manolo Blahniks, and casaba melons stuffed down her Danskin. Even when Liv Ullmann was considered a Hot Babe in Hollywood, she fought with her handlers over her image. One of the first things I ever purchased with my own money when I started working in college was Ullmann's superb memoir, Changing. I can still see my proud green-inked inscription on the inside front cover: "Danny Miller, March 22, 1977." I had never read a celebrity autobiography that was so honest and soul-searching. Ullmann wrote about her early experiences in Los Angeles:

My bathroom was the size of an ordinary Oslo apartment. It was so grand that the toilet was built like a throne so that one should never feel confused about being a film star when nature called.
"You must cut your hair," said one producer. "No!" "I'll make you the biggest star if you'll just dress a little differently." "I'm used to dressing this way." "Perhaps you should wear some more make-up. Send the beauty parlor bill to me." "Certainly not!"

Liv is still active and fighting for women and children refugees. She recently wrote an
op-ed piece for the Boston Globe. She’s also a writer, too, having written the screenplays for most of the films she directed. The Siren had an article on Changing and a passage in which Liv discussed her “female guilt” about her passion for writing:

Every day I try to write. It is most difficult at home, where there are telephone calls, Linn, nursemaids, neighbors. If I had been a man it would have been different. A man's profession is respected much more, as is the work he does at home, his fatigue, his need to concentrate.

Try telling a child that Mamma is working, when the child can see with its own eyes that she is just sitting there writing. Explain to the nurse you pay dearly to do what is expected of you--explain that this is important, is supposed to be finished by a certain date--and off she goes, shaking her head, convinced I am neglecting my child and my home. Success in one's profession and trying to write a book do not compensate for domestic shortcomings as obvious as mine...

I doodle on a piece of paper and my conscience bothers me. Because I am a bad mother, because I am inadequate, don't answer letters, don't mend the faucets but allow them to go on dripping for months on end.

I have coffee with a neighbor and make excuses for everything I am doing, because I know that she will never understand why this is important for me. This terrible "female guilt." I dare not have music on when I am in the basement, writing, lest upstairs they think I am just sitting here loafing. I feel that to be respected I must produce pancakes and home-baked bread and have neat, tidy rooms.

These are my thoughts as I try to write about how good it is to have a life that gives so much freedom, so many choices...

-- Liv Ullmann

Yes, what a beautiful life it is! And so, to try something different, here’s a collection of the faces of Liv Ullmann.


Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

I LOVE her performance in "Persona." For me that's one of the most powerful pro-woman films in the history of cinema of all time.

Elver said...

MM, you seem to have pretty much the same taste in women as me... What about Laurie Bird?

Christian M. Howell said...

We need more female actors like that. I remember I read a post over at WordPlayer where the question was how do you get actors to want to attach to your script.

One poster asked "What about actresses?"

Terry said "They're actors too."

That's perhaps another reason I don't gravitate towards sex in cinema. The women cause the attraction, the men get the glory.

Mystery Man said...

Hey guys,

I truly apologize for my delay in responding to the comments. I’ve been traveling so much this holiday, that I wrote a bunch of articles in advance and scheduled them to be published while I was gone.

Deaf - Oh yeah...

Elver – Two-Lane Blacktop, baby.

Christian – “The women cause the attraction, the men get the glory.” That’s not necessarily true. A lot of women have gotten the glory, especially with me. Hehehe…

Anonymous said...

Has anyone other than me ever noticed
the young Liv's resemblance to Scarlett Johansson--the dark blonde hair, the full lips, the blue eyes, the remarkably expressive face?

Popo said...

how strange! I was also thinking about her resemblance with Scarlett Johansonn just a few days ago while watching several of Ingmar Bergman's films in which she appears: Hour of the Wolf, Secrets of a Marriage, Passion of Anna, and Shame. in some of the scenes her resemblance is almost exactly the same, and she has the same look.

the only complain I have about SJ is that she would look much more elegant if her lower teeth were straight. haven't seen her latest films, though.

regards, RS

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