by Liv Ullmann
Knopf, $8.95
In reading a book by an admired actress, one almost expects to be disillusioned, to discover that the person behind her roles is crass, or boring, or even ordinary. But the disappointment in Changing is of quite another kind: the woman hinted at on the screen is neither denied nor augmented; she remains elusive; and one realizes that the clearest clues to Liv Ullmann’s persona still lie in her awesomely expressive face.
What she gives us is a collection of small scenes from her life, memories and impressions of her awkward, selfconscious girlhood, her stormy years with Bergman on the island of Far&3246;, the contrast between lush, extravagant Hollywood and the stringency of the Norwegian stage, to which she inevitably returns. But she assumes a knowledge of the facts on the part of the reader; often people in her anecdotes are frustratingly unnamed, the time unidentified. What is left unsaid outweighs what she reveals; we are reading the script instead of seeing the movie.
Her prose is spare, her tone like that of a pensive schoolgirl’s diary. One can’t help feeling that Ullmann has written this book on behalf of—or as an apology to— the girl who was left behind when the woman found passion, motherhood, and success. “I live, rejoice, grieve, and am always struggling to become grown up. Yet every day, because something I do affects her, I hear that young girl within me.” And so do we; the voice of that young girl is so strong that it obscures what she became.
Martha Spaulding