Marianne, some thirty years after divorcing Johan, decides to visit her ex-husband at his summer home. She arrives in the middle of a family drama between Johan's son from another marriage and his granddaughter.
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Marianne and Johan meet again after thirty years without contact, when Marianne suddenly feels a need to see her ex-husband again. She decides to visit Johan at his old summer house in the western province of Dalarna. And so, one beautiful autumn day, there she is, beside his reclining chair, waking him with a light kiss. Staying at a cottage on the property are Johan's son Henrik and Henrik's daughter Karin. Henrik is giving his daughter cello lessons and already sees her future as staked out. Relations between father and son are very strained, but both are protective of Karin. They are all still mourning Anna, Henrik's much-loved wife, who died two years ago, yet who, in many ways, remains present among them. Marianne soon realizes that things are not all as they should be, and she finds herself unwillingly drawn into a complicated and upsetting power struggle. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Interviewed in Swedish TV, Ingmar Bergman said that this was his last work. See more »
There are some interesting discrepancies in relation to the time line of the characters. The ages given for the characters are 63 (Marianne), 86 (Johan) and 61 (Henrik). Marianne says that she has not seen Johan for 32 years and that they had been married for 16 years. This means that she married Johan when she was 15 and he was 38. Johan had a falling out with his son when Henrik was 18/19, which must have been after Johan's marriage to Marianne. See more »
It's in a way fitting, that Ingmar Bergman, one of the cinema's best directors, to choose to depart in this fashion, by expanding on an early work, which was by all accounts fully realized, or so we thought. In "Sarabande" we are reunited with Johan and Marianne, the protagonists of "Scenes from a Marriage". Mr. Bergman seems to have composed a suite in which the Sarabande movement, which is usually introspective and dark, gives the tone to his account in this new work.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop reading now.
When we last saw Johan and Marianne they gave the impression their relationship was over. We get to know in "Sarabande" that yes, it really happened, but that a lot of years have passed between the lovers without any actual contact between them. Usually, when intense love affairs end, both partners stay away from one another. It comes as a surprise that Marianne will even try to see Johan after all the intervening years.
When we first meet Johan, he appears to be much older than what he really is. Time has not been kind to him, or so it appears. Marianne, on the other hand is still an interesting woman, who of course, is much younger, but the contrast heightens what appears to be a gulf now between them.
Things are complicated with the introduction of Henrik, Johan's own son, who has moved to a cottage in the property, where he is living with his daughter Karin. Henrik's wife has died, but her picture seems to dominate their lives. In fact, there is something incestuous in the relationship between Henryk and Karin. We watch them in bed, although there's nothing improper about it, but we start to get a different image of what really is going on in the cottage. At one point Karin kisses her father in a way that it confirms the love-hate emotions within Karin's heart. She is trying to break away from this situation in whatever way she can.
In a way we realize that Johan, who seems to hate Henrik, perceives what is going on, but he doesn't have the strength to confront this sad man that is his son. Maryanne, stays away from the feud going on between father and son. It's clear she feels deeply for Karin, a girl that has gained her trust, but there she feels nothing for Henrik.
The acting is first rate, as in most of Mr. Bergman's films. He has the uncanny gift to get great performances from his cast, as it's the case with "Saraband". Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson are perfect as the one time lovers Marianne and Johan. Borje Ahlstedt makes an unappealing and tormented Henrik. The luminous Julia Dufvenius is marvelous as Karin, the young woman, basically at the center of the story.
This is a great coda for Mr. Bergman. He leaves us with an emotional charged film that will be treasured by all his fans.
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