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Scenes From A Marriage [DVD] [1973]

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Bibi Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom
  • Producers: Lars-Owe Carlberg
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 29 Sept. 2003
  • Run Time: 168 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C665B
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,345 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

An intimate exploration of a disintegrating marriage, this powerful drama features faultless performances from two of Bergman’s greatest acting collaborators – Liv Ullmann (Autumn Sonata, Persona) and Erland Josephson (Cries and Whispers). When Marianne discovers that her husband, Johan, is involved with a younger woman (Bibi Andresson - Persona), she re-evaluates her life and the importance of her marriage. Time passes, their relationship changes and the couple divorce. Then – several years later – they have an illicit affair during which they talk with frankness and understanding about their feelings for one another. Capturing the trauma of a beleaguered marriage in painful close-up, this exhaustive study of doubt, despair and confusion is brought to life by the superb photography of Bergman’s frequent cinematographer, Sven Nykvist.


Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage opens with a couple--Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johann (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 a divorce and marriages to other people--continues to have these contradictions, moments of honesty and self-deception, of cruelty and kindness, concern and self-obsession, all laid bare by the skilful 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, 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 behaviour 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 honours for Ullmann. --Bret Fetzer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
Like Beethoven in his piano sonatas, the genius of Bergman builds an extremely impressive whole out of many small and seemingly simple elements.

At the surface level, the film is about a marriage between Marianne and Johan (played superbly by Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson). At a deeper level, the film is an honest insight into the human condition, with all its complexities (physical and metaphysical) including despair, joy, self-deception, self-obsession, cruelty, etc. Bergman's understanding of the human condition is on a par with that of the German-Swiss novelist Hermann Hesse.

The director relies primarily on the rich dialogs between the two main characters, as well as the intimate, emotion-capturing close-ups, to develop and convey his story. Scandinavian minimalist simplicity that pervades this film is an excellent choice, as it allows us to focus on the substance. The master cinematographer Sven Nykvist, as one would expect, did not disappoint us.

Bergman takes his time to fully develop the two main characters. This comes at a "cost" in terms of the length of this film. I am more than happy to bear that cost. All great masters know that it simply takes time to develop a character. This is true for films, novels, or even operas (Mozart and his use of operatic arias comes to mind).

This film reminds us that no one is perfect and no marriage is perfect either. A marriage can fail even when the two people give their best, let alone when they don't. We are also reminded that freeing ourselves from the imperfections of a marriage, our own personal imperfections and shortcoming will not, of course, just disappear. To be married (or not) becomes almost immaterial.
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Format: VHS Tape
If you have the stomach for two and half-hours of traumatic relationship strive, then Bergman's "scenes form a marriage" is utterly rewarding as well as profoundly thought provoking. The slow decline and eventual meaningful and realistic conclusion of a relationship between a man and women who come to both realise the complexity of life and the intensity of other people's existence is a philosophical wonder that to date I have seen only in the work of Bergman. Woody Alan may have successfully presented Bergman's subject matter in a more jovial manner, but if you want life in all its horror, pain, bliss and uncertainty then you will find "scenes form a marriage" a step into the real world. This film is not escapism; it is about as close as you will get to someone else's "real".
I strongly recommend this film. It has a great deal to say about how we treat each other as lovers, friends, enemies, mothers, fathers and in sum as distant people not ourselves. The end whilst not romantic, has a poignancy and tenderness that may make you cry in concurring with the fragility and finiteness of life.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The synopsis given above will give you all the details you need about the story. The only reason for giving this film 4 instead of five stars is that watching this after having learned Swedish I find the translation a bit watered down. The great scene early on in the film where the guest couple have a very public and quite bitter needling match is under-translated. With a smiling face the husband tells his wife that they shouldn't be airing their dirty laundry in public the translation and says " we shouldn't create any emotional stains..." when what he really says is "we shouldn't create any emotional specks of shit". This kind of sanitation really tones down the pithy hurtfulness of this scene and the subtitling deserves a more enlightened and liberal translation.
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Format: DVD
Scenes from a Marriage is a moving portrayal of the degeneration of a relationship. We see a series of episodes involving the husband and wife (played by Erlend Josephson and Liv Ullmann) separated by periods of a few months or a few years, that chart the breaking up of the relationship. We move from apparent married bliss, through drifting apart, the revelation of infidelity, separation and divorce to a kind of reconciliation. The writing, acting and direction are, as you would expect, outstanding. Scenes from a Marriage is a brilliant film from a master filmmaker of 30 years' experience in the last phase of his career. (If you enjoy this, check out Bergman's last film Saraband, which comes back to the same couple 30 years on.)
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This is one of those great works of art that one should see at different stages of life. As a youth, this appeared as the most depressing failure and dependency, though I seem to recall that I was thrilled by my reaction, that once again Bergman "got to" me. Now, almost 30 years later, I see it in a completely different way: from a busy facade of marriage, splitting up was not necessarily a failure, but one gateway to becoming very different, in many ways more mature, people, yet with the same core - and they still knew that spark of love. Instead of depressing, I saw it as a beautiful kind of renewal, with all the negatives and suffering that comes from entering middle age. Either way, it is an amazing film journey, with many possible interpretations.

This is my current perception. Starting from a stiff and insipid interview, we see the 2 characters. Johan is something of a narcissist, an over-achiever but burdened with insecurity and need. Marianne is a maintainer of artifice, trying to keep them on track and refusing to see warning signs. They live in a web of obligation and busyness, so choreographed by their parents that they are under-developed as people. One of the most frightening scenes - the kind that make you remember childhood fears when your parents argued - is a horrible battle between married guests in their home, where their hatred for each other is scorching and irredeemably destructive. Their attempt to keep up appearances is as heroic as it is stifling. Of course, it can't last.

Once they separate, they begin to learn about who they are, to the extent that they can introspect. Both of them go through stages of pain, selfishness, anger, frustration, and realization, switching roles as to who is the more sympathetic or errant.
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