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From the Life of the Marionettes (1980)

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (original title)
R | | Drama | TV Movie 30 June 1981
An account of the events before and after a murder committed by Peter Egermann (Robert Atzorn), a disturbed businessman in a strained marriage, and what led Peter to perform such a shocking act.


Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman
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Credited cast:
Robert Atzorn ... Peter Egermann
Christine Buchegger ... Katarina Egermann
Martin Benrath ... Professor Mogens Jensen
Rita Russek ... Katarina Krafft
Lola Müthel ... Cordelia Egermann
Walter Schmidinger ... Tim Mandelbaum
Heinz Bennent ... Arthur Brenner
Ruth Olafs Ruth Olafs ... Nurse
Karl-Heinz Pelser Karl-Heinz Pelser ... The Interrogator
Gaby Dohm ... Frau Anders - Secretary
Toni Berger ... The Guard
Erwin Faber Erwin Faber ... The Servant
Heino Hallhuber Heino Hallhuber ... The Choreographer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Doris Jensen Doris Jensen ... The Assistant in the fashion show


Made during Writer, Producer, and Director Ingmar Bergman's tax-related exile in Germany, the movie continues the story of Katarina (Christine Buchegger) and Peter Egermann (Robert Atzorn), the feuding, childless, professional couple who appear in one episode of "Scenes From A Marriage". After Peter perpetrates a horrendous crime in its first scene, the rest of the movie consists of a non-linear examination of his motivations, incorporating a police psychological investigation, scenes from the Egermanns' married life, and dream sequences. Written by Owen F. Lipsett <olipset1@swarthmore.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Woman He's About to Touch is a Dream. The Murder He's About to Commit is Not.




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Did You Know?


From the Life of the Marionettes (1980) is Director Ingmar Bergman's only movie shot in the German language. The Serpent's Egg (1977) was shot in Germany, too, but mostly in English. See more »


Katarina Krafft: Something's wrong?
Peter Egermann: Something's nice.
See more »


Featured in ...But Film is My Mistress (2010) See more »


Touch Me, Take Me
Performed by Rita Wright
See more »

User Reviews

Amongst Bergman's better - and most underrated - movies
27 August 2010 | by MurderSlimPressSee all my reviews

Many of Ingmar Bergman's movies touch on navel gazing - often featuring characters "breaking the fourth wall". We're expected to look at the character's face and glean the depth of their despair through this device. Sadly, as in 'Summer With Monica', 'Persona', 'Wild Strawberries' et al, this leads to some turgid movies.

Yet a batch of Bergman's movies are... well... movies. 'Virgin Spring' is one. Its focus is on telling a story, while subtly developing the characters. And, of course, there's 'The Seventh Seal" too. Another story led one, and great on the excesses of religion, death, hope.

'From The Life of Marionettes' is somewhere between the two styles of Bergman, but enough of the focus is on the story that I'd put this up with some of his movies that really did it for me. 'Marionettes' begins with the murder and rape of a woman... throwing you straight in at the deep-end. The scene is in Technicolor to heighten the impact. Much of the rest of the movie then switches to black and white flashbacks and flashforwards that cover the reasons behind - and the aftermath of - the murder.

The movie does come across as cold and clinical. It's so precise in its form, with lingering shots and a tendency toward tableau middle and long shots, that it is a hard movie to get excited by. But, that's probably just the point of it. Even though you feel like you're gently led by the hand through the movie, the story and characters are strong enough that you let yourself be. Well, mostly. I felt a little irritated by 10 or 20 minutes in the middle section, and I felt a couple of the scenes repeated themselves to beat us with a certain viewpoint.

But it works. 'From The Life of Marionettes' succeeds in achieving a hard thing - seeing into the mind of an insane man. And while it's not a fun watch, it's a very interesting one.

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West Germany | Austria



Release Date:

30 June 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

From the Life of the Marionettes See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »


Box Office

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)| Color | Black and White | Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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