As much as I admire Ingmar Bergman, one must also admire his casting choices, but beyond that also give credit to his excellent actors. It hardly detracts from his greatness as a director to acknowledge and recognize that he was essentially never let down by his actors.
While his actresses were hardly limited to the following, I generally, and assume many agree, think of five as the main ones he worked with. There was Harriet Andersson, early on in Summer with Monika, and her excellent performance in Bergman's mid career, in Through a Glass Darkly. Then came her memorable return to Bergman's films in Cries and Whispers. Ingrid Thulin was arguably the most beautiful of the five, and was noteworthy in Wild Strawberries, an enigmatic, fleeting presence in Hour of the Wolf, the earlier Magician, then playing her beauty down almost, but not quite!, completely in Winter Light, later a memorable performance in Cries and Whispers, and of course The Silence as Ester. Perhaps most famous are the next two, Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman, Liv probably being the most well known, and about whom I probably need to say the least here.
But Gunnel Lindblom certainly belongs in that group. Like many my first Bergman film was The Seventh Seal, where her performance as the mute girl impressed very much. Her role in Wild Strawberries was smaller, and I have not seen The Virgin Spring. She again appeared, I think in an excellent but small performance, in Winter Light. While she later briefly but in what I would call impressively casual performance appeared in Scenes from a Marriage. The Silence thus is clearly her biggest role working with Bergman, and I love her work in it.
If one can imagine Bergman casting The Silence, I have no idea if he first decided to use both Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom, and then chose which to play Ester, and which to play Anna. But assume that's how it happened. On one hand I think it could be argued that the casting choice could well have been as easily reversed. Despite Ingrid's imo great classic beauty, we know from other roles that she can play the sensual, even having appeared nude in both Hour of the Wolf and Cries and Whispers. But I would argue that the choice made was the right one, as not only was Ingrid excellent as Ester, and not to digress did infuse that character, having a surface appearance of sexual uptightness, with an inner sensuality that broke out as it were here and there. But Gunnel is probably superior as she was cast as Anna, with the combination mother figure and sexually seeking presence the character calls for. She is in short perfect as Anna. A marvelous performance.
Good post, kenny. The first time I saw The Silence Lindblom blew me away- so sexy it
was scary. With subsequent viewings I saw more nuance; she seemed ashamed of her jealousy of her sister, and her sex escapades showed a lot of self-disgust and confusion.
It won't chip, peel, blister, crack, flake or rust in any way.