Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

Human connection is a vital aspect of our daily functioning. It lends us security, comfort, solace, and even a breadth of opportunities. It also allows us to express our inner hopes and desires to others, with the prospect of attaining harmony and fulfilment. Conversely, crafting and sustaining these relationships can unfortunately be met with an underlying assumption that truth must be concealed for fear of judgment and reprehension. Our human core fears rejection, and these undeclared “differences” must be hidden from plain view to conserve our social pedestal. This den of secrecy can include friendships, parent-child and sibling relationships, and marriage whereby we must “please the other” while sacrificing our own integrity at times. The 1973 TV miniseries from Sweden entitled “Scenes from a Marriage” directed by the always introspective Ingmar Bergman examines the damage that this suppression of honesty can inflict upon a relationship.

Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann) are celebrating ten years of idyllic bliss with a magazine spread declaring their tips and tricks for a conflict-free marriage. Johan is a psychology professor at a prestigious institution, Marianne is ironically a divorce lawyer, and they have two beautiful children – the poster of familial perfection. Piece by piece, this picturesque facade crumbles. Over the six-part miniseries, their marriage is intimately dissected through pivotal interactions or “scenes” that occur over a ten-year period. Their relationship dissolves and reignites several times throughout this journey, and viewers learn that their actualities had always been concealed to appease those closest to them in their lives. The blossoming of their authenticity is therefore fundamental in ensuring the growth and sustainment of their connection.


It has been previously mentioned that the series indeed is comprised of specific “scenes from a marriage”. Each episode provides us a snapshot into the much-needed, honest conversations that have been festering for many years in the lives of this couple. The simplicity of the cinematography and conviction of the lead actors force us to focus on the evolving genuine dialogue between them. It is well known that Bergman and Ullmann’s relationship was a great source of inspiration and material for this whole premise. This carefully composed examination is indeed a case of art imitating life or its past, and the palpability of this very common and relatable story remains exceedingly current.

In general, discussions on any topic may be quite effervescent and fleeting in their beginnings. Over time, they hold the power to drive opinions and shape perceptions. Our pre-existing views enter into discourse, subsequently influencing our presentation of topics and others’ interpretations of unfolding events. Furthermore, our individual worlds are the consequence of thousands of personal experiences and stories that we bring subconsciously into every interaction. This film is one glorious example of how these ideas culminate into expression and empathy within a relationship that mirrors many of our own truths and realities.


I do not own the above photos in this post.


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