Monday, April 25, 2016

From the Life of the Marionettes

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (From the Life of the Marionettes) is the story of married couple who are breaking up as they both go into different journeys where things go wrong. The film is an exploration into relationships as well as the aftermath of a relationship as it relate to two people who had fallen out of love with each other. Starring Robert Atzorn, Heinz Bennent, Martin Benrath, and Christine Buchegger. Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is an eerie yet ravishing film from Ingmar Bergman.

The film plays into a married couple’s disintegration where the husband has committed murder after killing a prostitute as investigators talk to those who knew him and the events that led to his breakdown and the action that he cause. It’s a film that is an exploration into not just disintegrating relationships but also the events that drove a man into madness. Ingmar Bergman’s screenplay has a very unique narrative where it begins with the murder and then it is told largely in flashbacks for much of the first half and then a few events in its aftermath for its second half where those wonder what caused the man to kill this prostitute. Especially where much of the narrative is about the disintegrating marriage of Peter Egermann (Robert Atzorn) and his fashion designer wife Katarina (Christine Buchegger). A relationship that had become toxic emotionally and mentally where the two are also having affairs with other people including Peter’s psychiatrist/friend Mogens Jensen (Martin Benrath) who is sleeping with Katarina.

Bergman’s direction is very entrancing for the way he would open and close the film as they’re both shot in color to play into a world that is very complicated as well as the severity of Peter’s emotional and mental state of mind. The rest of the film would be shot in black-and-white where Bergman would maintain a sense of intimacy into the look of a marriage as well as a man unraveling in the days before he would kill this prostitute. Shot on location in Munich with much of it shot on soundstages, Bergman aims for something that plays into not just paranoia but also fear in the way he would shoot Peter whether he is spying on a conversation or deal with dreams he’s having including ones where he wants to kill his wife.

Bergman’s compositions and the way he would frame his actors for a shot are eerie including a scene where Peter looks into the camera reading an un-mailed letter to Jensen. The scene of the night where Peter would murder the prostitute is just as eerie which serves as the climax while it would be followed by this somber aftermath in the epilogue as it showcases how far a man can descend into madness. Overall, Bergman creates a haunting yet compelling film about a man’s descent following the disintegration of his marriage.

Cinematographer Sven Nykvist does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography from the eerie shots in color for the film‘s prologue and epilogue to the usage of black-and-white film stock for the rest of the film as it has this very eerie look into many of the interior scenes that is shot in the film. Editor Petra von Oelffen does brilliant work with the editing as it does play into some style with its usage of freeze-frames, frame-speeds, and jump-cuts to play into something that blurs the line of reality and fiction. Production designer Rolf Zehetbauer and art director Herbert Strabel do fantastic work with the look of the apartment home that Peter and Katarina live in as well as the peep show where Peter would kill the prostitute.

Costume designers Charlotte Flemming and Heinz A. Schulze does nice work with the clothes that Katarina would design in her fashion work including the stylish clothes that Peter‘s mother would wear. The sound work of Peter Beil is terrific for the low-key and naturalistic approach to the conversation scenes as well as the scenes at the peep show and social gatherings. The film’s music by Rolf A. Wilhelm is excellent as it is very low key where it is largely diegetic from the rock music that Peter listens on his headphones to the disco music that is heard at the peep show.

The film’s wonderful cast include some notable small roles from Karl-Heinz Pelser as a police interrogator, Lola Muthel as Peter’s mother who is a famous actress, Walter Schmidinger as Katarina’s partner Tim who would make some startling revelations in his interrogation about Peter, Heinz Bennent as a neighbor of Peter and Katarina who would try to stop him from killing himself, and Rita Russek as the prostitute Peter would kill as she shares the same name as his wife. Martin Benrath is superb as Peter’s friend and psychiatrist Mogens Jensen as a man that is trying to help Peter but also carry a sense of guilt as he is also Katarina’s lover.

Christine Buchegger is amazing as Katarina as Peter’s wife who is still has feelings for her husband despite their disintegrating love for each other as she tries to cope with how bad things are becoming as well as Peter’s own actions. Finally, there’s Robert Atzorn in a brilliant performance as Peter Egermann as a troubled architect filled with fear and paranoia over the failure of his marriage where at times he can be careless towards Katarina while becoming unhinged by dreams and fantasies of killing his wife as he starts to fall apart.

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is a phenomenal film from Ingmar Bergman. Featuring a great cast as well as very dark themes on marriage, fear, paranoia, and the human psyche. The film is a psychological drama that explores the soul of a man whose life is falling apart as he would commit an action that add to his fall from grace. In the end, Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is a sensational film from Ingmar Bergman.

Ingmar Bergman Films: (Crisis) - (It Rains on Our Love) - (A Ship to India) - (Music of Darkness) - (Port of Call) - (Prison) - (Thirst (1949 film)) - (To Joy) - (This Can’t Happen Here) - (Summer Interlude) - Secrets of Women - Summer with Monika - Sawdust and Tinsel - A Lesson in Love - Dreams - Smiles of a Summer Night - The Seventh Seal - (Mr. Sleeman is Coming) - Wild Strawberries - (The Venetian) - (Brink of Life) - (Rabies) - The Magician - The Virgin Spring - The Devil's Eye - Through a Glass Darkly - Winter Sleep - The Silence - All These Women - Persona - (Simulantia-Daniel) - Hour of the Wolf - (Shame (1968 film)) - (The Rite) - The Passion of Anna - (The Touch) - Cries & Whispers - Scenes from a Marriage - (The Magic Flute) - (Face to Face) - (The Serpent’s Egg) - Autumn Sonata - Fanny & Alexander - (After the Rehearsal) - (Karin’s Face) - (The Blessed Ones) - (In the Presence of a Clown) - (The Image Makers) - Saraband

© thevoid99 2016


Dell said...

From Bergman I have only seen Thw Seventh Seal and The Virgin Spring. I enjoyed both a great deal so I should check this out.

thevoid99 said...

This is an obscure Bergman film of sorts that I was fortunate to DVR a few days ago on TCM. It's a very dark film and it was made during his time as a tax exile due to the fact that taxes in Sweden were very high as he went to live in West Germany for some years.