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Scenes from a Marriage

Liv Ullmann , Erland Josephson    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage opens with a couple--Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson)--being interviewed for a magazine. Every moment seems to teeter on the brink of some rupture; just as they start to get comfortable, the interviewer has them freeze for a photograph. After making some bland general statements, they both start admitting intimate details, confessing that they were brought together by mutual misery, then cheerfully claiming that theirs is a model marriage. The entirety of Scenes from a Marriage, which chronicles their emotional relationship even after their divorce and marriages to other people, continues to have these contradictory moments of honesty and self-deception, cruelty and kindness, concern and self-obsession--all laid bare by the skillful actors and the subtle, constantly shifting screenplay. Every scene is a small movie unto itself; in fact, Scenes from a Marriage was originally a six-episode TV show, which was carefully edited down into a unified film. This is one of Bergman's most immediate and accessible works, concerned more with the facts of human behavior than symbolism or abstract themes. Bergman understands how to balance what could be horrible pain and despair with the characters' earnest efforts to improve their lives. His imitators reduce everything to sheer suffering and alienation; Bergman sees the best in his characters, even when their actions are terrible. This 1973 film won numerous awards, including several acting honors for Ullmann. --Bret Fetzer

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Ingmar Bergman's 1974 chamber-drama masterpiece was originally made as a six part mini-series for Swedish television--hence the divided tableau and emphasis on close-ups. Of course Bergman is the greatest purveyor of the close-up, and here he uses it to accentuate the psychological torment and strain that a marriage propagates on its victims (after this movie you'll view marriage as a war, if you already don't). Josephson and Ulmann shine as the dissenting couple, who first put up facades to deny the inevitable, eventually divorce, dive to relationship hell, and ultimately find a happy medium with a burgeoning love that could have never flourished if they stayed married. Interestingly, Bergman chooses to never show the couple's children (that would simply add another tumult to an already tumultuous puzzle). And, if it needs to be said, Sven Nykvist's photography is strikingly beautiful. "Scenes from a Marriage" suffers slightly from too much dialogue and being a bit lengthy--the poignancy is nullified after 170 minutes of relationship vicissitudes--but deserves to be cherished by any fan of "good" cinema or of Ingmar Bergman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
'Scenes from a marriage' may seem like a bit of a chore: three hours relentlessly focused on two people falling apart. And yet, it is one of Bergman's easiest films to watch, perhaps because it was made for TV, where there is rather more of a duty to hold a casual audience. There are no deep metaphysical questions in the film, no long abstract conversations, little narrative trickery, just the everyday problems of recognisable people, perhaps slightly more articulate than the rest of us.
Bergman gives us a host of conventional reasons for the marriage's failure, but he has never been very interested in the naturalistic causes of anything. In long, compelling takes, he gies us the process of marital drama; the experience, the taste, the gestures, irritations; the words expressed to fill up space, or words not thought through enough, yet taken as Holy Writ by the partner; the games, strategies, sarcasms, insults; the veneer of middle-class civility teetering on the brink of savage violence.
There is nothing as irreperable or final as a Hollywood film here, people feel one thing one minute, do another the next: they bear the scars but move on, there is no 'fixed' character. People used to Hollywood practices of closure or plot inevitability may find this disturbing.
The characters played by Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann are rarely sympathetic, but they are more: difficult, sometimes devious, always vulnerable people forced to make hasty decisions that can change lives, or who bear the scars of routine for years before flaring out. In other words, real, true - infinitely more important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love & Marriage Sept. 26 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Ingmar Bergman to me is one of cinema's most powerful directors. And, "Scenes From A Marriage" is the most powerful, and haunting film I've ever seen about love and marriage.
There's just something about Bergman's vision as a director and the camera of Sven Nykvist that brings this film to life. Bergman just throws these characters right into our faces, and we are truly mesmerize by them and their actions.
For those who have never seen this film, it is basically just as it's title may suggest, a look into the life of one couple's marriage. Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) are our couple in question. They have been married for a while now, and seem to have a good solid marriage. One wouldn't think anything was wrong, especially when compared to their friends like Katarina (Bibi Andersson) and Peter (Jan Malmsjo) a couple whom act like their about to kill each other at any given moment. The scene is involving them, is one of many sterling moments in this masterpiece.
If I were to go on and talk about more scenes in this film, I would clearly be ruining the entire experience for you. Just rent this movie or even better buy this movie and be prepared to see the power that cinema can convey.
"Scenes From A Marriage" is one of Bergman's best films. And, while yes, there is talk of a sequel, I can only hope, that it all remains a rumor. To make a sequel out of this masterpiece would surely be a mistake. Here's a film that is perfect as it is. Just leave it alone and don't add anything to it. Though, Bergman did make a sequel out of the Katarina and Peter characters and made "From the Life of the Marionettes", which does have it's powerful moments, but doesn't quite build up to what this film has become.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
This begins slowly as a stage play might and continues as an "interview" seen on television and then suddenly springs like a trap and we are immersed in a compelling drama about people with longings and frustrations often felt but seldom expressed. As Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) watch their friends expose the sordid details of their failed marriage, they are quietly smug that they are different; especially it is Marianne who is proper and conventional, always alert to the necessities of propriety, and is so happy that their marriage, while not perfect, will last. And so it appears.
And then we have the scene in which Johan tells her that he is in love with a younger woman. Her response is incredible tolerant and "understanding." She is generous and sad instead of wildly jealous. After a bit we see that this is a STRATEGY by Marianne. She is desperately trying to save her marriage. Even though she is faced with Johan's dull, almost absurdist indifference, she asks if she might help him pack his bags. This is a woman at thirty-five, when everything that means anything to her is suddenly threatened, and this is how she responds, with genius. Or, some might say, with madness. Marianne's tolerance of his behavior is stunning while Johan's insufferable arrogance and "worldly" understanding of himself makes us want to scream. Will her strategy work?
What Bergman does that keeps us engrossed for the 170 minutes this film runs (edited from a six-part production made for Swedish TV) is he tells the truth. It's a Bergman truth, but it is a truth so beyond the contrivances and superficialities of most movies that we are fascinated. In this we experience the deep, unsentimental fascination for people that Bergman is famous for.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Scenes From a Marriage
This series was way ahead of it's time in the 1970's. I rediscovered in 2009 when I purchased the dvd's. The acting is nothing short of superb and the script is phenomenal. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2010 by Agi Hajdu
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Brutality (A TRUE depiction of Marriage)
This film is incredible. It is, however, a brutal one to watch (the intense arguments are too intense to watch at times, there is so much PAIN in this film). Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by Yvonne Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! One of Bergman's greatest: way ahead of its time!
This Criterion edition is an absolute must-have for any fan of Ingmar Bergman's work. I have seen the 3-hour film version several times before, and felt it was superb, as most of... Read more
Published on March 21 2004 by "jeffrey4318"
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bergman's best
What a treat for the DVD world! This DVD include teh original 5-hour presentaion of Scenes from a Marriage and the original US version AND an interview with Ingmar Bergman! Read more
Published on March 2 2004 by Cody Keene
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous
I watched Scenes from a marriage twice the very first time i rented it from a local library. And yet so far it is one of the best movies i ever watched in my life. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by "yyazir1"
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Honesty. One of Bergman's Best
A departure from the complexity of Persona and The Passion of Anna, Bergman put together a highly accessible and clear portrait of the lives of a stereotypical... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Greg T. Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado About Nothing
Scenes from a Marriage is one of those movies that deserves an award (in addition to the ones it has already accumulated) for its status as one of the most overrated films in... Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Only two reviews !
OK, so its not Hollywood, but this film is totally rivetting without one gunshot or car chase in sight. Read more
Published on June 21 2000 by "tarrants"
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest, probing look at the lives of two people in love
Scenes From a Marriage presents a seemingly happily married couple heading toward crises. Their once simple life is thrown into shaos when the husband finds another woman. Read more
Published on April 15 1999
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