Saraband

on July 08, 2005 by Susan Green
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Once upon a time, cineastes lined up around the block to buy tickets for the latest release by Satyajit Ray, Federico Fellini or Ingmar Bergman. Nostalgia gave way to shock at the Montreal World Film Festival, where the queue was long for the first screening of "Saraband," a new work by the Swedish auteur that's a sequel to "Scenes From a Marriage." In his 1973 anatomy of a crumbling relationship, Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann play a couple that seems to exemplify the conundrum of a W.D. Snodgrass poem: "With love, we kill each other/Without love, we die/I tell you love is possible/We have to try." Their characters, Johan and Marianne, try and try and try some more. When venomous fights lead to divorce, they can't stay together or completely apart.

In the update, there's been a separation of three decades before she decides to visit him at his country cottage. He's a frail widower but still ornery. Younger than him, Marianne has aged more gracefully and refers to an off-camera husband. This being Bergman, no one is happy, although she initially seems at peace with herself.

The angst really begins when Johan's morose son Henrik and teenaged granddaughter Karin, who live nearby, come into focus. He has never stopped mourning his dead wife Anna, which means Karin is similarly stuck in the past. They also share a dark secret. Marianne becomes a sort of surrogate mother to the girl, a skilled cellist like her father. An intricate spider's web of family ties soon ensnares both households. The venom remains strong; however, since Bergman has vowed this will be his last film, cineastes probably won't mind the sting. Starring Erland Josephson, Liv Ullmann, Borje Ahlstedt, Julia Dufvenius and Gunnel Fred. Directed and written by Ingmar Bergman. Produced by Pia Ehrnvall and Jan-Erik Westman. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Swedish-language; subtitled. Rated R for brief nudity, language and a violent image. Running time: 112 min

Tags: Starring Erland Josephson, Liv Ullmann, Borje Ahlstedt, Julia Dufvenius and Gunnel Fred, Directed, written by Ingmar Bergman, Produced by Pia Ehrnvall, Jan-Erik Westman, Sony, Drama
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