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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Swedish Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Complete television version and theatrical version
  • Comparison between the television and theatrical versions by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • Exclusive new video interview with stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson
  • Video interview with Ingmar Bergman
  • New essay by author Phillip Lopate

Scenes From a Marriage


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Erland Josephson, Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, , Gunnel Lindblom, Wenche Foss, Anita Wall,
1973 | 299 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $ | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #229
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 9, 2004
Review Date: June 28, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) always seemed like the perfect couple. But when Johan suddenly leaves Marianne for another woman, they are forced to confront the disintegration of their marriage. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist, the film chronicles ten years of turmoil and love that bind the couple despite their divorce and subsequent marriages. Flawless acting and dialogue portray the brutal pain and uplifting peace that accompany a lifetime of loving. Originally conceived as a six-part miniseries for Swedish television, The Criterion Collection is proud to present not only the U.S. theatrical version, but also, for the first time on video in the U.S., Ingmar Bergman's original 5-hour television version of Scenes From a Marriage.

Forum members rate this film 8.6/10

 

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PICTURE

The Criterion edition of Scenes From a Marriage is a bit of a head-scratcher. This 3-disc set presents both the theatrical version and, for the first time in North America, the complete television version. The television version is spread across the first two dual-layer discs while the complete theatrical version is on the third dual-layered disc, both versions presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The reason I call the transfer a “head-scratcher” is that the two versions have been transferred in very different ways.

Colours look decent between both, if a little dull, but much better than I would have anticipated, flesh tones look fairly natural, and black levels are pretty strong. In both cases the prints are in very good shape. Grain is fairly heavy but not distracting. Sharpness and detail is quite good, specifically in the theatrical version.

What’s odd is that the television version is interlaced while the theatrical version isn’t. It’s disappointing enough when Criterion ruins their transfers because of this, but it’s actually quite frustrating when they have two versions of the film and present one, the longer (and in my opinion better) one interlaced and then present the shorter version in a progressive transfer. Why did they do this? Does it have anything to do with the source materials? Artifacts and combing are pretty rampant throughout the television version, while the theatrical version is smoother and cleaner.

I was in disbelief originally that Criterion would use two different techniques and I kept comparing scenes. I would actually be less annoyed if both were interlaced. When I took screen grabs it became clear to me that, yes, the television is interlaced while the theatrical is progressive.

The theatrical version looks quite good, but my disappointment in the presentation of the television version pretty much overrided that.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture
Television version

Screen Capture
Television version

Screen Capture
Television version, notice combing on collars

Screen Capture
Theatrical version, no combing on collars

Screen Capture
Television version

Screen Capture
Theatrical version

Screen Capture
Theatrical version

Screen Capture
Theatrical version

Screen Capture
Theatrical version

AUDIO

The Swedish mono track is decent if not spectacular. It gets the job done by delivering strong dialogue and decent music when it applies.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

For a 3-Disc set the package doesn't have much in the way of supplements. There are three supplements and they each appear on the separate discs.

On disc 1 you get an interview with Ingmar Bergman that was recorded a few years after Scenes first aired on television. Lasting 15-minutes it's a decent discussion with the director as he talks about the miniseries from idea to screen, and then its impact. It’s presented non-anamorphic in 1.33:1 standard.

On the second disc is a 25-minute conversation with stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson. Here the two talk about the show, but mostly concentrate on talking about each other and their work together. It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen.

And then finally on the third disc you get Peter Cowie comparing the two versions for about 20 minutes, presented in anamorphic widescreen. Most of the differences are obvious if you've seen both but he does compare some subtle little things. He also does touch on the impact of the series and the film. It's definitely worth looking at unless you have some aversion to anything Cowie.

An insert is also included, a rather large fold-out with an essay on the film by Philip Lopate. Interestingly he prefers the television version but also thinks the theatrical version does have its own benefits, and thinks the film/series is one of Bergman’s sunniest and most hopeful “constructions”. Another excellent essay worth reading

There’s really not much on here, but I felt pretty satisfied once I went through everything on this set. The supplements cover everything pretty well.

6/10

CLOSING

So while the few supplements were at least decent and I was happy to finally see the television version (and the film in general,) I can’t really give this a full hearted recommendation. The release is incredibly disappointing simply because of the interlaced transfer of the television version. The theatrical version looks pretty good and I just can’t understand why a progressive transfer couldn’t have been done on both. A questionable release.


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