Scenes From a Marriage Background

Scenes From a Marriage Background

Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage seems to defy the laws of the film universe. The story exists as several different entities all at the same time, thus making it a conversation about it between two or more people a potentially tricky proposition. Conceptually, the film originated with Bergman as a stage drama centering on a husband who suddenly announces to his wife that he is leaving what for all practical purposes would be described as a relatively happy and successful marriage.

From that foundation, Bergman looked to create a story capable of using the non-realistic conventions of the stage to create a non-linear examination of whether the marriage really was as happy and successful as it appeared to the husband and wife as well as to outsiders. As the boundaries of the relationship to be explored expanded and changed shape, what was to have been a story told in a couple of hours became a six-part miniseries for Swedish television, originally airing from April to May 1973 and with a total running time of 282 minutes.

In order to take advantage of Bergman’s international reputation as one of—if not the greatest living filmmaker at the time—those 282 minutes were edited down to create a 168 minute film for theatrical release outside Sweden. Even in that severely truncated form, the theatrical release was deemed to be yet another exhibition of the exceptional ability of Ingmar Bergman to penetrate into the psychological state of mind of his characters through masterful manipulation of cinematic techniques like no one else in the business.

In 1975, Scenes from a Marriage earned a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. It failed to even be nominated in the same category at the Academy Awards due to a rule making it ineligible by virtue of the miniseries version having already aired on television despite the fact that the theatrical version was distinctly different from the version which had aired on Swedish TV. As recompense for the procedural oversight at the Oscars, Scenes from a Marriage cleaned up at awards handed by the National Society of Film Critics, earning honors for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

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