Archive for July 12th, 2018

by Aaron White

Ingmar Bergman’s first foray into television, Scenes from a Marriage, starts with an interview with his principles, Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann), it’s an awkward ordeal for the couple who are being interviewed about their 10 years of marriage, Johan is a professor of science, Marianne is a family lawyer (who focuses on divorce). Marianne is passionate and compassionate, Johan is slow to anger but hides from his many fears behind is intellect, family and even the music of J. S. Bach. He believes that in order to maintain contentment that one must work hard to act nonchalant, and must create a believable illusion of safety around himself and his loved ones.

During a brief discussion between Marianne and the interviewer, we learn they’re old school friends and that while Johan believes in creating an illusion of safety for those in his sphere of influence that Marianne believes that they are truly happy, they may not have the perfect life that the interviewer implies that they have, and are indeed, entitled to, but they have true happiness and that is all Marianne truly desires from life. Near the end of their one-on-one the interviewer asks Marianne for a definition of love. She shirks the question, but when pushed she decides to answer, Nykvist pulls in for one of Bergman’s classic close ups and Marianne says, “no one ever told me what love was. And I’m not sure you need to know. But if you want a detailed description, you can look in the Bible. There Paul describes love.” The camera stays tight on Ullmann as she then mourns that if Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is correct that very few of us have ever experienced true love. As the camera holds and Marianne continues we realize that this isn’t merely an artistic soap opera made by one of the greatest of all filmmakers, this is a treatise on love. And in the close up we don’t just see Liv Ullmann’s beautifully intriguing face, we see society as a whole. In all of its beauty and flaws. (more…)

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