Tomas Alfredson and Sarah Johnson on Adapting Bergman’s ‘Faithless’

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Unique: Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, now best known as the director behind beautiful, charming features let the Right One In And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, wrote to Swedish screen legend Ingmar Bergman with an idea in the early 2000s. Bergman’s reaction was characteristically colorful.

“What the hell is this? What do you mean?” Bergman told Alfredson.

Alfredson told Persona The filmmaker he wanted to remake unfaithfulThe 2000 feature film Bergman wrote about a fictional woman who recounts her traumatic experience of adultery with an older film producer. The picture was screened in competition at Cannes that year and was directed by Bergman’s former wife, actress Liv Ullmann.

Alfredsson said, “This was a long time ago when everyone was producing remakes, so it was a very unusual question, especially for Bergman.”

Fast forward to February 2024 and Alfredsson is deep into editing a contemporary TV adaptation unfaithful He directed from a script written by Norwegian writer Sara Johnsen (22 July).

The six-episode drama series spans two time periods. In the current story, renowned director David Howard, 73, reunites with his former great love, actress Marianne Vogler, 75. Forty years earlier, in the main story, a young David and Marianne fall in love and enter into a relationship. The passionate love affair they must keep a secret, as Marianne is married to David’s best friend, Markus Vogler.

The series is presented by Jesper Christensen (in the darkness) and Lena André, who play the elderly couple while Gustav Lind (Queen of Hearts) and Frieda Gustavsson (Vikings, The Witcher) animate their younger versions. andre came back unfaithful Story after starring in the original Bergman version. It also stars German-Swedish actor August Wittgenstein. (The Crown, Das Boot, Ku’dam,

miso films

The series is produced by Fremantle’s Miso Film Sweden, in co-production with SVT and ARTE, in collaboration with DR, NRK, YLE, RUV and Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Fremantle is handling global sales unfaithful And the series will be presented as one of its scripted titles during a London TV screening on Friday.

Below, Alfredsson and Johnsson discuss their collaboration and the unique pressure of embracing Bergman as Scandinavian filmmakers. The pair also teased the look of their series, which they told us is a “free interpretation” of Bergman’s original script.

deadline: Tomas, where are you with the project right now?

Tomas Alfredson: We have worked together on this for two years. We shot for about 100 days. We shot the last part two or three weeks ago. So, we are at the beginning of editing.

deadline: 100 days is a very long time. Is this an unusual length for a limited series?

Alfredson: This is normal but demanding for an almost old director. Television directing is a marathon. It’s physically difficult to produce this amount of material, but I think that’s enough days of shooting. The workload is usually shared among multiple directors, but this project has been a dream of mine for over 20 years. So this is a passion project.

deadline: I read that this production began with you contacting Bergman and sharing your vision. Can you tell me how that conversation went and what your initial inspiration was?

Alfredson: At the time, my personal life was in turmoil, so I really connected with the themes of the story. Then I thought, I would love to try the story with my own perspective. so i wrote him [Ingmar Bergman] A letter. He never responded, but six months later he called me and said, ‘What the hell is this? what do you mean?’. This was long before everyone was producing remakes, so it was a very unusual question, especially for Bergman. He liked the initial idea and we talked about it. After some time he changed his mind and started harassing her. Then it evaporated. Then, a few years ago, Anna Kronman from Swedish Television called me and asked if I would be interested in working on a new version. She introduced me to Sarah, we met and she wrote the first draft which was captivating. To be clear, this is a very free interpretation of the old script. It has all the main beats and the main characters, but it’s new. Sara has given a brilliant rendition on this without losing the initial DNA.

deadline: Sarah, what did you think of adapting Bergman’s text?

Sarah Johnson: We agreed very early on that we wanted to keep all the plot points in the text. I was reading Bergman’s text, and using that as inspiration. We wanted to keep the characters, but we wanted to make it much bigger. But this piece is perfect for adaptation because there is so much beneath Bergman’s text that allows you to draw on many interesting themes.

Alfredson: Additionally, the original film is approximately two hours and 40 minutes long, which is long, but it didn’t feel like it told the entire story. So, in a way, this story fits perfectly on television. Television is an autonomous art form that can provide depth in a way that a feature film cannot because of the format. That’s what’s great about television. Feature films are much more rigorous. Television is an independent art form.

Miso Films.

deadline: Have any of you talked to Liv Ullmann throughout the process?

Alfredson: No, i did not do it. I hope he likes the idea that we’re reinterpreting. He has created his own version of it. And that’s a different thing, but I never contacted. Swedish television has probably talked her out of it, but I hope she’s happy.

deadline: Lena returned after starring in André Bergman’s original film. Why did you decide to bring him back?

Alfredson: To clarify, in the original version, the character played by Lena is a ghost. She is dead and has materialized in front of this older gentleman, David. They start talking to each other, so it’s based on a conversation between this older man and this young ghost. According to Sara, she is not dead. She is now 74 and alive, which makes the character more autonomous. Lena is one of Scandinavia’s finest actresses of her generation. She is absolutely fantastic. So it felt like a great thing to bring him back to play the same character, but with a completely new take. She was very happy to come along.

deadline: Ingmar Bergman still has a widespread presence in world cinema, especially in Sweden and Scandinavia. Were any of you apprehensive about adopting his work?

Alfredson: It’s scary, but you can’t make a great story while being scared. You must come to the point where you say to yourself: ‘This is mine now. I will take full responsibility here. Bergman has dominated film and television in Sweden for 40 years, so it was bold to suggest this adaptation from the beginning. But now it seems as if we have made it our own.

johnson: I also felt that this project allowed me to explore Bergman because his text was open to interpretation. We also visited Faro where he lived and had close ties to the Bergman Centre. Tomas also has a very good relationship with his son, Ingmar Bergman Jr. So we took a very respectful approach to the material.

Deadline: When can we expect to see Faithless on TV screens?

Alfredson: The plan is for early next year. I haven’t heard of a specific date, but that’s the ambition.

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