So that’s where Woody Allen gets his inspiration from. Noted. Scenes from a Marriage caused a catalyst and crisis inside a director who utilised that for his entire career. If that is the influence director Ingmar Bergman can have with only one piece of his filmography, then I fear what the man is capable of. He is clearly capable of utilising imagery to its full effect, look no further than The Seventh Seal for that, but Scenes from a Marriage is the quintessential character study. We intrude in the lives of a couple now reaching their breaking point, and as they flutter through the weeks and months, they are intimate, distant and troubled.
What does it mean to sacrifice something? Not a physical object, but a feeling or memory. Andrei Tarkovsky always composed massive, grand projects that looked to depict life in all its fleeting, suffering glory, but it is The Sacrifice that feels most poignant of all. Solaris was an exceptional, biting response to the apparent commercialist attitude of Stanley Kubrick and his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, whilst Ivan’s Childhood was of the beautifully brutal post-war filmmaking variety. Tarkovsky was an exceptional artist, a rare artist that could weave thick thematics into his visual flair. He was unconvinced by the happiness around him, unphased by the mechanisms of positivity, and nowhere is that clearer than here, in his final feature film.
Suffering away as he always does, Ingmar Bergman’s craft within Cries and Whispers offers audiences exactly what they expect and desire from the ineffable work of the Swedish-born director. Throwing us deep into the pangs of misery and strife as only he can, Bergman offers a stalwart attempt at analysing grief and pain, and how we deal with those themes as they come crashing down around us. Our response to the events that unfold within this early 70s piece may be colossally different, but the hard-working cast and feverishly talented crew piece together an intensely poetic and enjoyable film.
The final film from director Ingmar Bergman was a return to perhaps his most in-depth characters. Saraband, a sequel to Scenes from a Marriage thirty-three long years in the making, should have been a beautiful musing on age between not only cast members Liv Ullmann and Erlan Josephson, but also for its director. Instead, we don’t receive a beloved, touching or miserable sequel to the near-masterpiece the trio crafted in the 1970s, instead we get a meandering final effort from one of the most influential directors of all time.