24 April 2011

Scenes From a Blog

I wanted to write about Scenes from a Marriage (1973) which I saw for the first time yesterday. But my life got in the way.

It's always interfering with my plans. Life is.

I want to do this. Then that happens.  I really hate that old saw about a sure way to get God to laugh is to make plans. You've got to make plans. You can't just wander about life aimless (though I've tried it). And what kind of God is that laughs at us mortals because we have goals, aspirations, hopes and means of trying to execute them? Does God burst into giggles because we tell someone: today I plan to catch up on my letter writing, then go grocery shopping and maybe watch a movie. That's cold.

Actually life is endlessly entertaining simply because it's so unpredictable. Wow, didn't see that coming, can be a lot of fun. Or not.

Life is really interesting if you can discuss it in an interesting way. That's one thing I got out of Scenes. It was directed by Ingmar Bergman. He was really really good at directing  seemingly ordinary people in that he made them interesting. Look, if you can make something compelling out of the story in Scenes you're something special. I mean the title says what it is. That's it. You follow a married couple. They're more interesting perhaps than most. But still....

A lot of directors today, hell, most directors today, can't tell an interesting story even if they employ explosions, car crashes, aliens or gun fights. You ever had an earnest child tell you a story in which there are all kinds of scary monsters and wild action scenes? It can be cute and a sign the child is perhaps precocious, but really you're mostly indulging the child (and rightly so). That's what a lot of filmmakers are like. "And then this happened and then that, and then this and then that. Pow. Boom." Yawnsville.

So I'm not getting into detail here, but Bergman proved with Scenes (as he did with many other films) that just observing human interaction can be fascinating. Even if none of the people has super powers or is a murderer or has two heads. Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman starred in Scenes. Ullman I could watch read the phone book in Swedish without subtitles. By the way, I thought Scenes from a Marriage was terrific.

I never did get to writing about it though. I had a lovely dinner with my family. I walked to a bookstore. I suffered through horrific results in sports events watched and attended. I washed tons of dishes. I listened to Chet Baker and Bill Evans (not live, they're both dead, it was a CD). I wasted time on the internet (that's just way to easy to do). I sat on our back deck and read Hemingway.

None of this was filmed by Bergman or anyone else. Though if the Swedish director was around and a camera was handy he'd have doubtless made a pretty good film of it. Imagine, me a star!

So I'm sorry that I didn't get around to writing about Scenes From a Marriage, though you may have noticed that in a roundabout way I sorta did. Kind of.


William Goodchild said...

Sounds like a lot on your plate, Sir. For your current mood I suggest re-watching a film you love: something with a gentle pace and one without swathes of dialogue. Although the moment may have already passed, if you have a spare, ahem three hours then this doctor prescribes you a hearty dose of Barry Lyndon.

Richard Hourula said...

That's an excellent suggestion. Fortuitously, a DVD of that very film sits comfortably on my shelf.