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4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

SARABAND - the acclaimed follow-up to the Golden Globe-winning Best Foreign Film, Scenes From a Marriage - is director Ingmar Bergman's last statement on film, "a powerful and poignant final roar from the grand old man of cinema" (Richard Corliss, Time). Thirty years after their divorce, Marianne (Liv Ullman, in a reprise of her National Society of Film Critics Award-winning role) impulsively decides to visit Johan (Erland Josephson) at his isolated country retreat. Upon her arrival, she bears witness to the tortured relationship between her bitter ex-husband, his hated son Henrik (Borje Ahlstedt), and 19-year-old granddaughter, Karin (Julia Dufvenius). Unable to cope with his wife's recent death, Henrik expresses his grief through an unhealthy obsession with his teenage daughter. Ignoring his son's protests, Johan offers to send the girl to a prestigious music conservatory, forcingKarin to choose between a promising future as a cellist or caring for her tormented father.


You know you're back in Bergman country when a character begins speaking to the camera right from the start. In the prologue to Saraband, which was made for Swedish television, Marianne (Liv Ullmann) recounts the changes that have taken place since Scenes From a Marriage, the miniseries-turned-feature that introduced the central couple. Johan (Erland Josephson) has retired from academia, while she continues to practice family law. Since splitting up for good, they haven't seen each other in over 30 years. Marianne decides it's time to reconnect and makes plans to visit Johan at his remote cottage. While they catch up, she gets to know his estranged son, Henrik (Börje Ahlstedt), and beloved granddaughter, Karin (Julia Dufvenius), who are staying in the guest house. Both are still reeling from the death of Henrik's wife, Anna, two years ago. Although she never appears--she's represented by a portrait of Bergman's late wife, Ingrid, to whom the film is dedicated--Anna's ghost haunts them all (even Marianne, who never knew her). Divided into 10 parts plus the prologue and epilogue, Saraband looks more like a play than a film, which is not necessarily a drawback (it's in keeping with the "scenes" of the original series). The focus is on the characters and their words. They could be anywhere at any time; their problems are personal yet universal. For two hours, the outside world does not exist. In the complete universe Bergman has created for them, it doesn't need to. As much a love letter to his wife as to his muse, Ullmann--who has rarely been better--Bergman has stated that Saraband will be his final work. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • The Making-of SARABAND featurette
  • Previews

Product Details

  • Actors: Börje Ahlstedt, Julia Dufvenius, Gunnel Fred, Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: No Producer Credited
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, German, Swedish
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BX0VUA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,741 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Saraband" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Bestick VINE VOICE on May 3, 2006
Format: DVD
Bergman first introduced us to Johan and Marianne in his 1974 masterpiece Scenes from a Marriage, one of the cinema's most exacting dissections of our all-too-human failure to connect. Bergman and the splendid Scandanavian actors Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann took us through Johan and Marianne's marriage, divorce, and post-divorce reconciliation. In the end, they live apart, but still make room for the bond between them.

Three decades later, Bergman, Josephson and Ullmann have given us Saraband, a late-life gift. Marianne decides that even though she hasn't seen Johan since the 1970s, it's time to make contact again. Johan has inherited money from an aunt, and lives in splendid isolation overlooking a lake. She literally wakes him with a kiss, but soon enough Marianne's fantasy of an idyllic reunion evaporates as she gets drawn deeper into the power struggles in Johan's family.

Henrik, Johan's son, is staying in a nearby cottage with his daughter Karin. Both of them still mourn Anna, Henrik's wife and Karin's mother, who died two years before. Henrik, a music teacher, is preparing Karin, an accomplished cellist, for her conservatory entrance exams. The elderly Johan remains cold-hearted but charismatic (not unlike Bergman's own father) and one of the questions the movie explores is why people are so attracted to him. Henrik wants his father's affection and acceptance, even though Johan refuses to give it, ostensibly due to some slight by Henrik when he was 19 years old. In a painful scene, Henrik goes to Johan to ask for money to help Karin, and in his 61 year old face, we see the bewilderment of the boy who never came to grips with his self-absorbed father.

For Karin, her grandfather is a counterweight to the suffocating embrace of her father.
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Format: DVD

Legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman officially "retired" from filmmaking in 1982 following the release of his highly acclaimed autobiographical drama, "Fanny and Alexander." That was supposed to have been his swan song, yet, since that time, he has made so many TV movies that have been released into theaters in the United States that, for Americans at least, it has pretty much been a "retirement" in name only.

His latest such film to be released here, "Saraband," is, technically, a sequel to his earlier masterwork, "Scenes From a Marriage," which was also a made-for-TV work that received theatrical distribution in the United States in 1974. "Saraband" reunites us with the now-divorced couple, Marianne and Johan, whom we are told have not really spoken to each other for almost thirty years. For reasons that she is not even able to fully explain to herself, Marianne (Liv Ullman) feels compelled to visit her ex-husband (Erland Josephson) and find out how he's doing and, perhaps, figure out if there still might be something between them. However, despite the fact that this new film is billed as an extension of the original "Marriage," Johan and Marianne wind up somewhat on the periphery of the real story which involves the incestuous relationship between Henrik (Borie Ahlstedt), Johan's son from a previous marriage, and his beautiful 19-year old daughter, Karin (Julia Dufvenius). Henrik is a classical musician whose beloved wife, Anna, has recently died. In some strange way, he clings to Karin almost as a replacement for Anna - even though there are hints that the incest began before Anna's death and that indeed Anna was aware of it - making it clear to his daughter that he would be utterly destitute if she were ever to leave.
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Saraband, Bergman's last film, is about a family destroyed with hostility, obsession, attempted suicide, pain, hatred and music. As a follow-up to the successful Scenes from A Marriage, 30 years ago. Marianne, a lawyer, visits her wealthy through an inheritance, ex-husband Johan, 86, who lives in the forest near the lake. During the marriage, he was unfaithful. Living nearby is Johan's 60ish son Henrik, who heads an orchestra and his 19-year old daughter, a celloist, Karin, who is taught by her father. Johan and Henrik despise each other.

Henrik's wife died two years ago and he is miserable. He has an unhealthy obsession, in other words, an incestual relationship with his daughter. Bergman clearly leaves that impression as they sleep in the same bed. Karin is the recipient of his pain.

Marianne encounters the sadness of Karin, they share talks openly, and Marianne learns the hostility of Henrik of his father. Through a letter Karin discovered, she learns about Anna, the wife who died.

A memorable quote:
Henrik speaking to Marianne of his father: "I hate him in every dimension of the word. I hate him so much I'd happily watch him die of some horrible disease. I'd visit him daily and take note of his torment down to the last breath."

The movie is set in chapters, uniquely played out. Most scenes call for two persons and no one else enters, it becomes a closed set without intrusions. The sets were manufactured with great detail. And Bergman favors the close-up shots. The film is lengthy, quiet, and absorbing.

A special treat is to view the master at work in The Making of Saraband, and moreso, you will see readings by the actors. This treat offers great insight into Bergman's work. Enjoy! Rizzo
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