by Bergman, Ingmar

  • Scenes from a Marriage

Genre: Drama

Cast 3 male 6 female

Length Full

Set Interior

Licence World ex. Sweden


First Scene: “Innocence and Panic”

The action opens with an at-home interview. The happy couple Johan and Marianne are interviewed as “the ideal couple” for a ladies magazine.  At a dinner party for their friends, Peter and Katrina, the evening breaks up as the guests trade insults and Johan and Marianne congratulate themselves on their own happy marriage.

Second Scene: “The Art of Sweeping under the Carpet”

In a gentle but unsuccessful revolt, Marianne, decides to cancel the weekly Sunday dinner with her parents. Later in her office she talks with Mrs. Jacobi, who has wanted to divorce her husband for fifteen years on the grounds their marriage is loveless. In the meantime Johan receives a call from his mother at work.  His colleague Eva comes in and takes part in an experiment; a TV monitor records her efforts to hit a point of light on a screen in a darkened room.  She fails and is irritated by her failure.  Later she criticises a collection of poems he has given her to read.

Johan and Marianne have lunch together.  They start a discussion about frankness and eroticism in marriage, which continues in the evening after a performance of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the theatre.  Marianne suggests that their lack of sexual desire for each other is a result of talking about it too much.

Third Scene: “Paula”

The scene takes place in the couple’s summer house where Johan reveals he is having an affair with another woman, Paula.  He plans to leave for Paris with her the next day. Marianne pleads with him to stay but he wishes to break away from the hum-drum existence of his middle-class marriage. They make love but in the morning he packs and leaves. Distraught, Marianne calls a friend for comfort only to learn that their circle of friends have known about Johan’s affair for some time.

Fourth Scene: “The Valley of Tears”

A year later, Johan visits Marianne for dinner.  He tells Marianne that he has received a job offer from an American University and that Paula will not be accompanying him.   Her tries to make love to Marianne but she repulses him. She reads him a passage from her diary but he falls asleep. Later she shows him a letter to her from Paula predicting he will return to his family. Johan leaves saying that Paula’s letter is merely an hysterical outburst.

Fifth Scene: “The Illiterates”

In Johan’s office Marianne arrives with divorce papers for his signature.  They drink. He has a cold but she, in a good mood, seduces him. He talks about his professional problems but she is indifferent, revelling in her sense of freedom.  They argue and blame each other for the faults in their marriage. The verbal insults turn to physical violence when Johan attacks her. They sign the divorce papers and she leaves.

Sixth Scene: “In the Middle of the Night, in a Dark House Somewhere in the World”

Several years have passed. Both Johan and Marianne have remarried but meet on the twentieth anniversary of their own marriage.  They drive to a friend’s cabin and talk about their lives. Johan is upset because his existence seems meaningless; Marianne claims to be liberated if not happy.

In the night she wakes from a nightmare.  A foghorn sounds outside. She talks to Johan about her sense of confusion and of not being loved.  He tells her he loves her in his own unimaginative way.  They go back to sleep holding hands.

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