Saturday, January 27, 2018

Scener ur ett äktenskap 1–6 / Scenes from a Marriage 1–6 (2002 digital restoration by Svensk Filmindustri)

Scener ur ett äktenskap Del 5: Analfabeterna. Liv Ullmann (Marianne) and Erland Josephson (Johan). Enligt Bergman var Ullmann och Josephssons insats "ovärderlig eftersom de aldrig lämnade ut Marianne och Johan, utan försvarade dem. På så sätt fick i många fall Livs och Erlands önskemål om replikernas och scenariets utformning avgörande betydelse för det slutliga resultatet." According to Bergman the contribution of Ullmann and Josephson was "invaluable since they never abandoned Marianne and Johan, instead defending them. Thus in many cases Liv and Erland's wishes about the formulation of the dialogue and the screenplay proved decisive for the final result." Foto: Lars Karlsson © AB Svensk Filmindustri. Photo and caption from the Bergman 100 website.

Kohtauksia eräästä avioliitosta
Oskuld och panik / Innocence and Panic / Viattomuutta ja pakokauhua
Konsten att sopa under mattan / The Art of Sweeping Things Under the Rug / Kuinka roskat lakaistaan maton alle
Paula / Paula / Paula
Tåredalen / The Vale of Tears / Kyynelten laakso
Analfabeterna / The Illiterates / Analfabeetit
Mitt i natten i ett mörkt hus någonstans i världen / In the Middle of the Night in a Dark House Somewhere in the World / Keskellä yötä pimeässä talossa jossakin maailmassa
    SE 1973. PC: Cinematograph Ab. P supervisor: Lars-Owe Carlberg. D+SC: Ingmar Bergman. DP: Sven Nykvist – 16 mm – Eastman Color – 25 fps. PD: Björn Thulin. Cost: Inger Pehrsson. ED: Siv Lundgren. Sound re-recording mixer – Owe Svensson – optical mono.
    No music score. During the credits is heard a short excerpt from the start of Tomaso Albinoni: Op. 10: 12 Concerti a cinque No. 1 (Concerto for violin, strings & continuo) in si bemolle maggiore: Allegro (1735).
    "Hej tomtegubbar" / "Hei tonttu-ukot hyppikää", a Swedish traditional Christmas song ("en svensk folkvisa", n.c.), first known printing 1815, with lyrics 1833, whistled by Johan in the final episode.
    C: Liv Ullmann (Marianne, divorce attorney), Erland Josephson (Johan, associate professor), Bibi Andersson (Katarina), Jan Malmsjö (Peter), Gunnel Lindblom (Eva), Anita Wall (Ms. Palm, journalist), Barbro Hiort af Ornäs (Mrs. Jacobi), Lena Bergman (Karin, Marianne and Johan's daughter), Wenche Foss (Marianne's mother), Rossana Mariano (Eva, Marianne and Johan's daughter at 12), Bertil Norström (Arne, Johan's colleague), Ingmar Bergman (voice of the magazine photographer).
    First telecast (simultaneously in Sweden, Finland, and other Nordic countries):
    Part 1 on 11 April, 1973
    Part 2 on 18 April, 1973
    Part 3 on 25 April, 1973
    Part 4 on 2 May, 1973
    Part 5 on 9 May, 1973
    Part 6 on 16 May, 1973
    Episode length: ca 49 min.
    Duration of the complete version: 281 min
    Helsinki premiere of the theatrical version: 11.9.1981 Nordia, distributor: Diana-Filmi Oy – VET 89239 – K12 – 4675 m / 171 min
    The film was produced by Bergman's Cinematograph company. Its rights and this copy now belong to SF Studios (formerly Svensk Filmindustri).
    Svenska Filminstitutet: Bergman 100: digital transfer in 2K DCP of the complete version with English subtitles (n.c.), the 2002 digital restoration by Svensk Filmindustri.
    Screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Bergman 100), 27 Jan 2018

1  "Innocence and Panic"
    An affluent couple, Marianne and Johan, are interviewed for a magazine series on love after having renewed their marriage contract after their 10th anniversary. In the interview, they come across as an ideal couple. Afterward, they entertain the couple Peter and Katarina, who have a miserable relationship. Marianne reveals to Johan she is pregnant, and she winds up having an abortion.
2  "The Art of Sweeping Things Under the Rug"
    Marianne wakes up one morning determined to not visit her parents for dinner, as the family usually does each week, and is forced to back down. At the university where Johan works, he shares poetry that he has not let Marianne see with a female colleague, who tells him it is mediocre. Later, Marianne and Johan debate the lack of joy they take in their sex life.
3  "Paula"
    Johan reveals to Marianne that he is having an affair with a younger woman named Paula, an unseen character, and wants a separation. He intends to leave home for months, and shares his frustrations about their marriage and longtime desire to leave. Upon phoning a friend for help, Marianne learns many of her friends knew about the affair before she did.
4  "The Vale of Tears"
    Johan visits Marianne, disclosing he intends to take a position at Cleveland University. Marianne then suggests they should finalize a divorce, hinting she is interested in remarrying. She shares what she has learned about herself in therapy.
5  "The Illiterates"
    Marianne and Johan meet to finalize their divorce, leading to more arguments over the division of their property, the upbringing of their daughters and Marianne's new enjoyment of sex with her current partner. After the arguments escalate into physical violence, Johan sadly signs the papers.
6  "In the Middle of the Night in a Dark House Somewhere in the World"
    Despite having both been remarried to other people, Marianne and Johan meet for an affair. Marianne reveals she had an affair in 1955, very shortly after they were married. It has been 20 years since they were married. Going to a friend's country house, Marianne has a nightmare, and wakes up fretting she has never loved or been loved. Johan comforts her that they share an imperfect love.

AA: The Ingmar Bergman Centenary is being celebrated in Finland in collaboration between Hanaholmen Kulturcentrum för Sverige och Finland, KAVI, Sveriges ambassad, Svenska Filminstitutet: Bergman 100, Walhalla, and other partners.

For someone seeing Bergman's films for the first time my three recommendations for starters would be:
Smultronstället / Wild Strawberries, his richest.
Persona, his most reduced film so far, with an experimental twist.
Scenes from a Marriage, an even more simple and reduced work, but with an extraordinary emotional charge. It is essential to see the original complete six part version.

Ingmar Bergman like every film director faced a deep crisis in the 1960s as the studio system of the film production collapsed during the breakthrough of television. Bergman made his last traditional studio system production for Svensk Filmindustri, En passion, in 1969.

Bergman "faced the enemy" and turned to television. He had directed teleplays since 1957 but now he started to make some of his most original and deeply felt work for television. He had established a company of his own, Cinematograph, in 1967, and starting with Cries and Whispers he made his films as an independent producer.

Scenes from a Marriage was Bergman's first major work for television. The work is minimalistic. For the first time Bergman based his film largely on close-ups, also frequently using  extreme close-ups. Although the series is almost five hours long there are only two main characters (Johan and Marianne) and only few supporting characters. We never see Johan and Marianne's children or their new partners, although they are constantly discussed. There is no music score.

Also the production budget was minimal, and the cast and crew got to choose: salary or percentage. Those who chose percentage became millionaires. Liv Ullmann chose salary, and her co-workers in Scenes from a Marriage established a habit of consoling her with a lunch invitation on payday.

Instantly Scenes from a Marriage got special treatment. The telepremiere took place in Nordic countries simultaneously. Bergman's The Magic Flute was telepremiered the same way in the following year. I watched Scenes from a Marriage at home in Pirkkala, Finland, at the same time as the Swedes saw it in Sweden.

We are now living in a new golden age of tv series. Prominent directors make some of their finest work for long form television. Binge watching is a watchword.

Bergman belonged to the pioneers of this trend, followed by R. W. Fassbinder (Berlin Alexanderplatz) and David Lynch (Twin Peaks). In Finland he had been preceded by Mikko Niskanen the year before. (Many find Niskanen's teleseries Eight Deadly Shots the best Finnish film of all times; on my list it is in top three.)

The impact of Scenes from a Marriage in world cinema and television was huge and continues to be so. Andrey Zvyagintsev confesses a debt to the Scenes in his latest movie The Loveless (Nelyuboi). It has also been observed that soap operas such as The Bold and the Beautiful were influenced by Scenes from a Marriage. (The omnivorous Bergman was also a habitual viewer of soap operas).

Bergman chuckled that divorce rates jumped wherever Scenes from a Marriage played. This is probably true, but the main cause was in the changing mores of the times of which Scenes from a Marriage was itself an expression.

Bergman's quip sounds cynical, but he was not a cynic, least of all just then. He was in the happiest period in his life, having married two years before Ingrid (Ingrid Bergman, Ingrid von Rosen in her previous marriage). They lived together forever until death did them part.

Scenes from a Marriage lives in many incarnations. Bergman published the teleplay as a book, and even the book became a bestseller. It was even published as a Månpocket paperback edition which meant that with this work Bergman was embraced by popular culture. Scenes from a Marriage was also the first Bergman book to be translated into Finnish. It was a turning-point in Bergman's career as a writer, and the book has independent literary value. I have read it many times, and it keeps growing with time, as does the movie. This month Jan Holmberg has published a book, Författaren Ingmar Bergman [The Writer Ingmar Bergman] (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2018), covering a previously under-explored side of Bergman. I have only started to read it, but I believe Scenes from a Marriage was a turning-point at least in the sense that with it for the first time Bergman received a wide audience as a writer.

The original television version was also edited to an abridged theatrical version with a flashback structure. I see no point in the theatrical version. The long televersion is constantly of high intensity with never a superfluous moment. The utter simplicity, including the uncluttered solution of the chronological structure, is the best way to experience the complex and multi-layered emotional evolution of Johan and Marianne.

I just met this afternoon on our way to the Yrjönkatu Bath Erik Söderblom, director of the Espoo City Theatre. He directed the first Finnish theatrical adaptation of Scenes from a Marriage. He reminisced visiting in Munich Ingmar Bergman's original theatrical adaptation in the early 1980s. It was performed as a part of a trilogy of plays together with Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and August Strindberg's Miss Julie.

That context is illuminating, since with this play Bergman connects with Ibsen and Strindberg's plays about marriage. Another Ibsen play, The Wild Duck, might be also relevant. The concept of livsløgnen [untranslatable outside Nordic countries: "the life lie", meaning that one's whole life is based on a fundamental lie] is always relevant in Bergman, and it is a basic theme for Johan and Marianne both as individuals and for their marriage. The introduction, the presentation of the marriage as an idyll for a ladies' journal, is an excellent illustration of Ibsen's term.

Johan is played by Erland Josephson, who was Bergman's best friend to the end. They met in the early 1940s when Josephson was a schoolboy and Bergman directed him in a schoolplay production of The Merchant of Venice. Josephson played Antonio, the merchant. Bergman opened Erland's eyes for a theatrical career. Bergman was a family friend of the Josephsons, an illustrious Jewish cultural family of poets, painters, musicians, booksellers and Strindberg experts. Erland became a writer, director and theatre director himself. In Scenes from a Marriage he got his first starring role in a Bergman film.

Marianne is played by Liv Ullmann, Bergman's muse, "my Stradivarius" since Persona and until the end. Liv Ullmann's performance as Marianne belongs to the most extraordinary in the history of the cinema.

As his last work as a director of moving images Bergman directed Saraband, a sequel to Scenes from a Marriage, starring Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann. The title Saraband is a reference to Johann Sebastian Bach's cello suites.

Albert Schweitzer stated that Bach played four hands with God. Henning Mankell, Bergman's son-in-law, commented that Bergman played four hands with Bach.

(Based on my introduction to the screening).


Kun August Strindberg kuvasi avioliittoa ja perhettä mestarillisessa novellikokoelmassaan Naimakauppoja 1–11, hänen huomionsa pääkohteina olivat yhtäältä sääty-yhteiskunnan rasitteet, valheellisen moraalin kahleet ja taloudelliset paineet sekä toisaalta naisen asema. Strindbergin aika oli nousevan porvarillisen individualiteetin aikaa. Bergmanin aika on kypsän hyvinvointikapitalismin, kansankoti-Ruotsin ja kriisiin ajautuvan porvarillisen individualiteetin aikaa. Bergmanin kuvaamalla avioparilla ei ole taloudellisia huolia eikä vanhanaikaisia uskonnollisia ja moraalisia painolasteja. He ovat sivistyneitä, henkeviä ja tasapainoisia ihmisiä, joilla on kaikki hyvin.
    Kohtauksia eräästä avioliitosta alkaa kirjaimellisesti naistenlehti-idyllistä: Johanin ja Mariannen kodissa tehdään lehtireportaasia. "Mielestään he ovat järjestäneet kaikki asiat parhain päin. Patenttiratkaisut ja kiltit latteudet surisevat korvissa." (Bergman). Elokuvassa käydään läpi pariskunnan välisen suhteen kaikki vaiheet ja variaatiot: idylli, ritualisoitu normaalisuus, valheiden turvin säilytetty yhteisymmärrys, kriisi, ero, tunnustusten teko, täydellinen helvetti, ja – viisi vuotta myöhemmin – kompromissi.
    Sovinnainen avioliitto on kuihtunut valheelliseksi rituaaliksi, joka estää näitä kahta ihmistä enää rakastamasta toisiaan, ja vasta täydellisen välirikon ja brutaalin taistelun jälkeen he pystyvät kohtaamaan toisensa omana itsenään – salaisessa kohtauksessa "keskellä yötä pimeässä talossa".
    Kun Johanin ja Mariannen avioliitto joutuu kriisiin, päästään keskelle draamoista raadollisinta. Vaikka he yrittävät puhua, käyttäytyä kaikin puolin järkevästi, heitä ajavat aivan toiset, epäjärjelliset ja hallitsemattomat voimat. Puhuminen ajaa heidät uusiin loukkauksiin ja umpisolmuihin. He raatelevat itsensä ja toisensa vereslihalle viettely-yritysten, paljastusten ja nöyryytysten ketjussa.  Kaikessa puheliaisuudessaan Kohtauksia eräästä avioliitosta osoittaa, miten huonosti järkevä puhe kattaa ihmisen koko asteikon, niin myönteisten kuin kielteisten tunteiden ilmaisussa.
    "Tunneasioissa olemme lukutaidottomien tasolla", toteaa Johan eräänä selvänäköisyyden hetkenään. "Meille on opetettu kaikenlaista ruumiista ja Madagaskarin maanviljelyksestä ja piin neliöjuuresta ja hitto ties mistä, muttei sanaakaan sielusta. Me olemme pohjattoman tietämättömiä, sekä itsestämme että muista."
    Samalla kun Bergman asettaa kyseenalaiseksi pinnallisen ihmissuhdeterapian, joutuu tavallaan vaakalaudalle koko länsimaisen ihmisen minuus, hänen käsitys itsestään omavaltaisena yksilönä, oman onnensa seppänä. Yksinäisyys saattaa olla ehdotonta, kuten Johan toteaa, mutta yksilöllisyys ei sitä ole: ihminen on sulautuma itseään ja muuta maailmaa, kukaan ei ole saari.
    Naiskuvan kehitys saattaa olla olennaisin edistysaskel, minkä Bergman on saavuttanut mestariinsa Strindbergiin nähden. Bergman on irtautunut naismystiikasta ajautumatta silti strindbergiläiseen naisvihaan. Marianne ilmentää elämän myöntämistä, juurevuutta, tämänpuoleisuutta, mutta samalla suurta naiiviutta joka ei ole pelkkä terve vastapaino Johanin kyynisyydelle. Joka tapauksessa Bergman panee Mariannen suuhun elokuvan tärkeimmän repliikin: "Siinä suojatussa maailmassa, jossa sekä Johan että minä olemme eläneet niin tiedostamattomasti ja itsestäänselvästi, piilee sellaista julmuutta ja raakuutta, joka pelottaa minua yhä enemmän ja enemmän, kun muistelen sitä. Ulkonaisesta turvallisuudesta se vaatii kalliin hinnan: on hyväksyttävä persoonallisuuden jatkuva tuhoutuminen."

– Antti Alasen (Studio 10, 1980) ja muiden lähteiden mukaan ST 1986

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