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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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.