Swedish screenwriter and director Kjell Grede had made four feature films before he after a suggestion by Ingmar Bergman made his first television drama. Written by Kjell Grede and produced by the Swedish production company Cinematograph AB which was initiated by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) in 1967, this four-part mini-series is an adaptation of the autobiographical novel "The Defence of a Fool" (1893) by Swedish modernist writer, playwright and painter August Strindberg (1849-1912), about his 14-year long marriage with Finnish-Swedish Baroness and actress Siri von Essen (1850-1912). It tells the story about Axel, a poor and ambitious novelist who works at the national library of Sweden in Stockholm during a summer in the late 19th century. After receiving an invitation from a Baron named Carl Gustav and his wife Maria who wishes to talk about theater with him, he takes a break from his writings to visit them. Warmly welcomed by the noble couple who opens their hearts and lives to him, Axel is released from his loneliness and experiences a sense of happiness that inspires him. His friendship with Carl Gustav and Maria evolves, they involve him in their marriage and he begins to admire Maria. Though trying to keep his feelings for Maria to himself, Axel eventually declares his love to her and his love is requited. The newly found romance between the noblewoman and the writer begins in Axel's apartment and as time goes by, Maria divorces the Baron. Their love is strong, but more compatible than his search for the truth and her search for freedom.
Finely directed by Swedish filmmaker Kjell Grede, this dialog-driven chamber drama draws an intimate and romantic portrayal of a passionate and conflicting relationship between an opinionated man who is preoccupied with writing and love and an opinionated woman who is preoccupied with acting and freedom. While notable for it's at times atmospheric milieu depictions, fine production design by Swedish production designer and art director Anna Asp, cinematography by Swedish cinematographer Tony Forsberg and costume design by Swedish costume designer Björn Nelstedt and Swedish costume designer Eva-Lisa Nelstedt, this somewhat humorous, somewhat austere and theatrical mini-series which is narrated by the writer and that alternates between the two main characters point of view, depicts two engaging studies of character.
This biographical, finely paced and in-depth examination of a mid-19th century marriage between a 27-year old actress and a 28-year old emerging writer which spans over a decade, is impelled and reinforced by it's quick-witted and incisively written dialog and the involving and emphatic acting performances by Swedish actor and director Gösta Ekman and Swedish actress Bibi Andersson. A concentrated, dramatic and meaningful character piece from the late 1970s.
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