Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Birthday to the "Greatest Living Screen Actor"


A while back, after Eli Wallach died, I was having a discussion about the greatest living screen actor and who that might be. While he lived, Wallach was my nominee. But there are a lot of really great ones still with us. Think Duvall, Streep, Pacino, Hackman, Rowlands, Moreau.


A few weeks later, it occurred to me that I had forgotten one, and the more I thought about it I realized that I would consider Liv Ullmann our greatest living film actor. Of course she was fortunate to work with Ingmar Bergman. He was also very fortunate to find Ullmann. Their collaborative work is the best, or very nearly the best the art of film has ever seen. No other actor has played so many deeply intense parts, but she helped to create those very parts as Bergman's close collaborator. He would not have written those parts had she not existed to play them, just as no composer would write a piece that could never be performed.


Think of her work in SHAME, THE PASSION OF ANNA, CRIES AND WHISPERS, SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, PERSONA... (this list can go much longer). Now try and replace her with anyone. To call her a powerful, open, giving actor is a little like saying Shakespeare had a flair for words. She is a great artist of the screen as a performer (and a very fine director as well). 


Liv Ullmann is 76 years old today. Happy birthday. Have many more and make many more films please.

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