Bergman: Saraband - KarazwLaimoon

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Bergman: Saraband

Cinema Talks > 2014 Winter (Season 5)

Date: 17 January 2014

: Saraband

Director: Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)
: 2003
Swedish (English Subtitles)
Duration: 108 minutes
Key Actors: Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson.

Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Mouawad Museum (Beirut, Lebanon)

Link to IMDB: Click Here
YouTube Clip from Chapter 6: Click Here
(Johan and Karen - That is Bruckner's 9th Symphony being listened to: 3rd Movement)

Roger Ebert: Click Here
Washington Post: Click Here

New York Times: Click Here
Film Comment: Click Here

Synopsis: (from Rotten Tomatoes)
Saraband is a 2003 Swedish drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman. It is his final film. It was made for Swedish television, but released theatrically in a longer cut outside Sweden. Its United States theatrical release, with English subtitles, was in July 2005. The Swedish television version is 107 minutes, while theatrical releases run just under 2 hours.

Although it seems like the film is a sequel to Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage (1973), the only thing it shares with that film is the couple, Marianne and Johan, and the same actors (Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson). The film is a co-production of Sweden, Italy, Germany, Finland, Denmark, and Austria.

The film is structured around ten acts with a prologue and epilogue. There are 4 actors in the film. Each act focuses on an intensive dialog between two of these. (The dead wife of Henrik, the son, is always in the "air". In the final scene, there is a brief appearance of the estranged daughter of Marianne and Johan).

The film opens with the camera on Marianne standing by a table covered with photographs. It is a well-lit room, and she addresses the viewer. She picks one picture up after another; they are in no particular order, being just heaped all over the table. Some make her smile, or elicit a comment or a sigh. But then she picks up a photograph of her husband, prompting her to reminisce about how they had been more or less happy, and how they'd broken up. She goes on to recall how his second marriage failed, while she was already married to a second husband herself, and then when her second husband died (by flying a glider off somewhere and disappearing), she reflects that it would be nice to see her first husband again.

Marianne travels into the country to the home of her ex-husband, and father of her daughters Martha and Sara, Johan. Johan is undergoing a family crisis with his insolvent and needy son, Henrik, and granddaughter, Karin. Karin is 19, and Henrik asks Johan for an advance on his inheritance so that Henrik can buy Karin an old Fagnola cello, to make a better impression at the audition for the European music conservatory. The elderly Johan decides to consider the offer and to contact the cello dealer himself. While Henrik is away tending to the orchestra he conducts in Uppsala, Johan has a private meeting with Karin, informing her of a proposal from Ivan Chablov, head conductor in the St. Petersburg orchestra and an old friend of Johan, that Karin join him at the prestigious Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

While considering this offer Karin also finds an old letter from her departed mother Anna written to Henrik a week before her death. In the letter, Anna asks Henrik to relieve Karin of the unhealthy control he holds over her as her cello teacher. When Henrik encounters Karin again upon his return from Uppsala, where he no longer holds a position as concertmaster, he attempts to convince Karin into performing a concert of Bach's Cello Suites with him. She finally confronts him about his control over her and tells him of her decision to take an opportunity to study with her friend Emma in Hamburg under Claudio Abbado. The final request by Henrik is that Karin play the saraband from Bach's 5th Cello Suite, which she already knows.

We encounter Marianne and Johan some time later, after Karin has already left for Hamburg. Marianne receives a phone call stating that Henrik has been found in the hospital having attempted suicide with pills and by cutting his wrists and throat. In the next scene a pained Johan suffering from a sort of anxiety attack seeks out Marianne and eventually disrobes along with her and joins her in bed. Next, Marianne is holding a still of the couple in bed and explaining what happened after that episode. She explains how she and Johan had kept in contact until one day she was no longer able to reach him. She thinks again of the departed Anna and recollects a visit to her ill daughter Martha who is in a sanitarium. She explains the contact she shared with her daughter and how she had never really been able to touch her before this moment.

Ingmar Bergman (from IMDB)
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July fourteenth, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the trilogy closed. Here, as in 'Den Goda Viljan' Pernilla August play his mother. Note that all three movies are not always full true biographical stories. He began his career early with a puppet theatre which he, his sister and their friends played with. But he was the manager. Strictly professional he begun writing in 1941. He had written a play called 'Kaspers död' (A.K.A. 'Kaspers Death') which was produced the same year. It became his entrance into the movie business as Stina Bergman (not a close relative), from the company S.F. (Swedish Filmindustry), had seen the play and thought that there must be some dramatic talent in young Ingmar. His first job was to save other more famous writers' poor scripts. Under one of that script-saving works he remembered that he had written a novel about his last year as a student. He took the novel, did the save-poor-script job first, then wrote a screenplay on his own novel. When he went back to S.F., he delivered two scripts rather than one. The script was Torment (1944) and was the fist Bergman screenplay that was put into film (by Alf Sjöberg). It was also in that movie Bergman did his first professional film-director job. Because Alf Sjöberg was busy, Bergman got the order to shoot the last sequence of the film. Ingmar Bergman is the father of Daniel Bergman, director, and Mats Bergman, actor at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theater. Ingmar Bergman was also C.E.O. of the same theatre between 1963-1966, where he hired almost every professional actor in Sweden. In 1976 he had a famous tax problem. Bergman had trusted other people to advise him on his finances, but it turned out to be very bad advice. Bergman had to leave the country immediately, and so went to Germany. A few years later he returned to Sweden and made his last film Fanny and Alexander (1982) (A.K.A. 'Fanny and Alexander'). In later life he retired from movie directing, but still wrote scripts for film and T.V. and directed plays at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre for many years. He died peacefully in his sleep on July 30, 2007.

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