Review: Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap (Scenes From A Marriage, 1973)


Marriage may mean more than you think!

Written By: Ingmar Bergman
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman

The term marriage means something different to Johan and Marianne than it does to the rest of the world, and I doubt they even realize this difference. Very early in Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap their marriage as it is viewed in the general sense has disintegrated. However, as the rest of the movie shows a marriage of two people has only just begun. In essence Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap asks the question about what is marriage, is it tied into love, is it just a title, what the heck is it? I didn’t find Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap to be anti-established marriage in any way, in fact I thought the idea it put forth of a love deeper than the title of marriage reinforced what marriage should be about in the first place.

It is true that marriages devolve into who is doing what, where must the kids be today, what needs to be prepared for dinner tonight and who is hosting Thanksgiving this year. Those bits of minutiae lose sight of what marriage is really supposed to mean, it is supposed to be the union of two people to tackle life together. This entails the gamut of human emotion, but in the rush to live up to the title of marriage that emotion is often forgot about until it is too late. Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap presents a series of moments that define the pitfalls of the modern marriage, but it doesn’t seek to judge as much as show what is happening and allow the audience to see the truth of marriage, the good and the bad.

At the same time I don’t think anyone should look at the after-marriage marriage of Johan and Marianne as a model of normalcy or love. They continue to make mistakes, they continue to operate on a plane that will never work out. Their new marriage isn’t much better than their titled marriage, but in it they are at the very least more honest with one another. What I take away from Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap is that the truth is in the middle, the space in between their actual marriage and their marriage of souls. This is probably quite different from how most people view the movie, and perhaps this is my more Americanized feelings adjusting the European sensibilities of the film, but I believe the film seeks to show that middle ground of truth. That area is always there, yet it is hardly ever found, and perhaps that is the real truth about marriage.

Outside of delineations made towards marriage, what is so great about Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap? It is a stage play come to film, or TV in its original form, and because of that it is a very intimate tale. The direction of Bergman is sparse, his camera isn’t flashy and when it moves it is always coming forward. The camera highlights faces and pushes in more than any camera should. This adds to the intimacy and creates a sense of rawness to what we are seeing. Nothing can be hidden, the camera has captured the actors and forced them to reveal the truth of their emotions. And what emotions they are, Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson are amazing in their roles. They are honest, they don’t act so much as inhabit the parts, every breath they take is that of a real person, not some actor on the screen.

I don’t know if I was able to properly convey my feelings towards Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap in what I have written. It’s not that it was hard to take in or that it was some sort of higher art that escapes definition, but for some reason or another I had a hard time describing what I took away from the film. One thing I do know for certain is that Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap is yet another film from Ingmar Bergman that people need to see.




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