Scenes from a Marriage (1974)

PG   |    |  Drama

Scenes from a Marriage (1974) Poster

Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners.


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18 August 2019 | boblipton
| What God Has Ordained When There Is No God
Originally a miniseries, it was edited down to 169 minutes. It concerns itself with Liv Ullman, a divorce lawyer, and academician Erland Josephson. Over the course of ten years their marriage breaks down. Written by director Ingmar Bergman in a reported three months, it was shot quickly; cinematographer Sven Nykvist later stated that, given its later theatrical release, he would have liked more moving shots. Given the short schedule and tiny budget, that seems impossible in retrospect. As it is, the transfer from videotape to film gives it an inconsistent look, even within individual scenes; that seems to contribute to its intimacy and subjectiveness.

I think the lack of rehearsal, and the central roles being played by two Bergman regulars give the performances a freshness and lack of polish that contribute to the truth of the movie. These are two people who change, hesitantly and unwillingly, in the throes of overwhelming emotions. The lack of polish, the enormous emotional shifts with scenes give it a documentary feel, even as the characters talk almost endlessly.

Unlike Bergman's earlier works, which are often theological musings on why G*d doesn't give us more directions, this shows two people trying to make their way in a world where G*d, if he exists, is irrelevant. It's a search for meaning without any hope of objective guide, of people trying to snatch some happiness desperately, in a existential world. It offers no grand messages, no singular route to happiness for all of humanity, just for two individuals.

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