8 October 2004 | G_a_l_i_n_a
Marriage Is Dead, Long Live Love
I used to think that I knew a thing or two about marriage having been married for as long as I have but nothing from my experience had prepared me for the merciless and deep dissection of Marriage: Bergman Style. When we meet Johan and Marianne for the first time, they have been happily (or so it seems) married for ten years. They have two daughters; they are still young, very attractive, healthy, educated, well off, and they seem to love each other very much. But Bergman is not interested in happy families all happy families are happy in the similar ways. Like Tolstoy many years before him, Bergman explores the second part of the formula All unhappy families are unhappy in their unique ways.
Bergman and his leading actors Liv Ullmann and Arland Josephson give one of the most truthful, honest, heartbreaking and credible portraits of a couple, one of the most intense character studies ever done on film. For five hours, we share twenty years from the lives of Johan and Marianne as well as their love, hate, misunderstandings, insecurities, anger, jealousy, denial, sadness, pain, despair, and loss. We witness the moments of incredible tenderness and unexpected and shocking violence, both physical and mental. There are no depth that they have not descended in the search of themselves and the meaning of their relationship.
There are actually four marriages Bergman studies in "Scenes from a Marriage" none of them is happy, all are miserable. Bergman does not deny the possibility of finding a soul mate but his opinion on the modern marriage is quite pessimistic.
It felt like Bergman was saying - marriage is dead, long live love. For hours after the film was over, I could not shake off the sadness and pessimism of it. Only later I realized that even if four marriages in Bergman's film were disastrous, it does not necessarily mean that all couples in the world are or have to be that miserable. Bergman wrote and directed Scenes from a Marriage in 1973 when he was in his 5-th marriage, the one that would last for 24 years until his wife died. He brought in the screenplay (I think so but I may be wrong) the bitterness, resentment, anger and disappointments from his previous four marriages - maybe that's why the film is sometimes almost impossible to watch?
"Scenes from a Marriage" is a masterpiece but it may leave you devastated and emotionally exhausted. I watched the original 5-hours TV version and did not even bother with three hours version. 10/10