Scenes From a Marriage

The Sound of Silence: The Effects of Suppression, Emotional Illiteracy, and Lack of Self-Awareness in Scenes from a Marriage College

There is a famous lyric Paul Simon croons out with Art Garfunkel, bemoaning the stealthily infectious nature of suppression in society. “Silence like a cancer grows,” they warn, “…no one dared disturb the sound of silence.” It is this silence that represents the conscious restraint dutifully exercised by Swedish couple Marianne and Johan. We are introduced to their marriage at a point in their lives in which the years of false calm and emotional regulation have disintegrated into mutually eroding, pent-up dissatisfaction. This societally dictated, yet self-enforced dispassion spreads in Marianne and Johan, affecting every aspect of their lives, not just their dyadic conflicts, which are often left unresolved. In his six-episode series, Scenes from a Marriage, director Ingmar Bergman offers a close-up examination of the deterioration of their confrontation-fearful marriage, establishing the concepts of emotional suppression, emotional illiteracy, and lack of self-awareness as the root of the couple’s estrangement. Set in 1970s Sweden, Scenes chronicles a marriage in the midst of a cultural shift in Western society. “In place of the old norms of self-sacrifice, avoidance of conflict, and rigid gender roles, there were ideals of...

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