20 user 22 critic

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
1 win. See more awards »




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
Learn more

More Like This 

Saraband (TV Movie 2003)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Börje Ahlstedt
After the Rehearsal (TV Movie 1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Rational, exacting, and self-controlled theater director, Henrik Vogler, often stays after rehearsal to think and plan. On this day, Anna comes back, ostensibly looking for a bracelet. She ... See full summary »

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin, Lena Olin
The Rite (TV Movie 1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships... See full summary »

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Ingrid Thulin, Anders Ek, Gunnar Björnstrand
Fårö Document (TV Movie 1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Bergman interviews the locals of Fårö in this fascinating documentary. An expression of personal and political solidarity with the fellow inhabitants of his adopted home, the island of Fårö... See full summary »

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Arvid Andersson, Sven Bernander, Carl Ekman
Fårö Document 1979 (TV Movie 1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Fårö Document 1979 is the ten-year followup to the first documentary Bergman made about his adopted home, Fårö, where he filmed many of his best works and lived until the end of his life.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Ingmar Bergman, Irene Broman, Per Broman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A recently divorced man meets an emotionally devastated widow and they begin a love affair.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow
Dreams (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two different women - a young photo model and her boss - dream about a happy life with beloved men. Their dreams are as different as they are.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After a 15-year marriage, the spouses are going to divorce, but suddenly find out that their feelings have not vanished yet.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Eva Dahlbeck, Gunnar Björnstrand, Yvonne Lombard
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Don Juan is sent from Hell to Earth with a mission - to seduce a 20 years old virgin in order to spoil her pure wedding. The mission becomes crazy when Don Juan falls in love for the first time in centuries.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Jarl Kulle, Bibi Andersson, Stig Järrel
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Berlin, 1923. Following the suicide of his brother, American circus acrobat Abel Rosenberg attempts to survive while facing unemployment, depression, alcoholism and the social decay of Germany during the Weimar Republic.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullmann, David Carradine, Gert Fröbe
The Silence (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom, Birger Malmsten
Shame (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In the midst of a civil war, former violinists Jan and Eva Rosenberg, who have a tempestuous marriage, run a farm on a rural island. In spite of their best efforts to escape their homeland, the war impinges on every aspect of their lives.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Sigge Fürst


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.




R | See all certifications »

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 »


Tim Mandelbaum: I'm only a child. Then again, maybe not. I don't know about time. It doesn't exist, say those who've thought about it. I shut my eyes and feel like a 10-year-old. Physically as well. Then I open them and look in the mirror and an old man stands there. A childish old man, isn't that strange. A childish old man, that's all. No, something more.
See more »


References Persona (1966) See more »


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

User Reviews

another Bergman experiment, lots of interesting psychological bits
1 July 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Ingmar Bergman's From the Life of the Marionettes, his last film done while in exile during the late 70's, hearkens back to his experimental period in the mid to late 60's. Here he's trying for a deconstructive way to get inside the mind of his subjects, most notably the character of Peter Egermann. The fatal flaw of the film, however, is also something that adds an unusual kind of connection to the material for a Bergman film. It's erratic in its narrative as the director tests himself with jumping around from different times around a single event. But unlike how this has been done by the likes of Tarantino, this is meant not really as a useful story trick, but to try to get different perspectives and acute angles of the subject at hand. The film doesn't reach its greatness for the same reason that it does keep itself watchable- this is very murky, depressing times, loaded with dialog that may or may not go ways to help explain or give some interest in the supporting/main characters, and some startling, if dated, surreal experiences.

It's also a little strange that Bergman decided to connect these characters, however loosely, to the couple in the first episode of the Scenes From a Marriage series, where Peter and Katarina (then played by Jan Maljsmo and Bibi Andersson) were the volatile arguers who juxtaposed the main focus of the film. Here, portrayed by Robert Atzorn and Christine Buchegger, are not only not as spot-on as the former actors (though they are still quite good and splendid in some scenes), the couple is picked under Bergman's psychological microscope where the relationship is very strained and a fatalistic. The opening scene is definitely a mind-blower, with an intensity and harsh sexual edge that is uncommon to Bergman's films (one of his best openings to be sure). Indeed, one of the nice twists, a little shocking at first and then intriguing, is how the filmmaker lets out inhibitions and shows the more explicit images of nudity and the sensual, as well as rock and disco music.

Along with a fragmented approach to the storytelling, where infidelities, insecurities, shame, depression, and outright rage and confusion are brought out in segments that range from the convincing to missing the mark. In a way, maybe Bergman's aims are lowered this time in exile, and he delves more into a doomed personality with visual surprise. Sven Nyvkist, as usual, is still very good with what he does in the frame, especially as this is 90% black and white (with a strange blue tint at times), and his services come into great use in a visual detailing of a dream involving Peter and Katarina naked in a wide, white space. It's maybe the best sequence in the film. In experimenting with the dramatic interpretations, it's not as successful, and some of the supporting actors aren't as good as the leads (a scene with one of the actors talking into a mirror is one of my least favorite scenes Bergman's ever wrote/directed).

Its obscurity is not, therefore, that staggering to see. But it is a good and occasionally spine-tingling character study, and if you are into the filmmaker's work already it's a find that might prove better or more fulfilling. 7.5/10

9 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 20 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



West Germany | Sweden



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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (theatrical)

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed