Few cinematic partnerships have been as symbiotic as that of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and Norwegian actor Liv Ullmann, whose creative collaboration lasted well beyond the five-year romantic affair that blossomed between them. The two were exquisitely matched, and the richness of her searching, complex performances emboldened him to probe into deeper and darker corners of his characters’ psychologies. “We make each other alive; it doesn’t make a difference if it hurts,” he once wrote in a letter to her—and that emotional intensity shows in each of the eleven films they made together.
For the latest episode of Creative Marriages, now playing on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, critic Michael Sragow examines how that mix of “love and war” in Ullmann and Bergman’s offscreen relationship seeped into their forty-year collaboration and how it developed after Bergman cast twenty-six-year-old Ullmann in his radical 1966 masterwork Persona. Head over to the Channel to watch the program in full alongside two of the powerful domestic dramas they made on the island of Fårö: Shame and The Passion of Anna.