Saturday, 21 February 2009

Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage

It was not until October 14th 2006 that I encountered Scenes from a marriage Ingmar Bergman. Even by Bergman standards this film has a layered intensity and a clarity which is extraordinary. As art it is the kind of experience which makes struggling expressionist like me despair, knowing we will never create anything which will approximate.

It is also a commentary on the truth of relationships
Because my emotions were raw, I found this film too powerful to experience at one sitting, although I have since after buying my own copy.
The work was not constructed as a film for theatre but a six act 50 min TV series which won such acclaim that a leading national marriage counsellor approached Bergman for advice (just in case you think I was overstating its merits).
The work was reduced to two hours for a stage play and then in 1983 it became the present film of 2.40 mins with 16 scenes in four segments 4 x 4.
The film begins with photos being taken for an article about the ideal marriage. There are good hints that all is not what it seems, two people brought together by circumstance the wife previously married for a short period, his background I am not sure, his wife a lawyer like her father specialising in divorce, he is involved with psycho technology, they have two children they are complacent confident talk about their relationship to others.
At a dinner party they are witnesses to their best friends tearing chunks out of each other linking with a scene from Wild Strawberries.
Then we have the scene which one person in every marriage which ends unexpectedly will recall with pain, when the other makes the announcement. But can such an announcement be made which does not devastate. Is there such a thing as dissolution by mutual consent?
But worse is to come when the wife finds out that best friends knew and did not say, but from their point of view saying what they know could have precipitated what might not never have been.
However this is not the end in terms of the couple never meeting again, but it is the end of what they thought the situation had been. The brilliance of the film, its uniqueness, is that it then takes you along the journey of self discovery, growing enlightenment and maturity which is part of the continued growing up we all experience, and where some have to do it alone or with others, at least for a time, but it there ever any going back, and if there is, can it work?

In this instance Bergman answers the question in another film

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