Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

A still from the film.
Updated 19 July 2018
0

Pressures and pains that tear a couple apart

DENVER: Like a gallery wall-sized enlargement of a microscopic image, “Scenes from a Marriage” is all about size, space and perspective.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman — whose birth centenary was marked this week — at 281 minutes long, its unwieldly length presents an intimidating canvas, yet the claustrophobic intimacy of its gaze is unprecedented: The two leads are alone in nearly every scene, many of which play out for more than a half-hour at a time.
Premiered in 1973, the work is technically a TV mini-series, but such is its legend that theaters continue to program its nearly five-hour arc in its entirety. A three-hour cinematic edit was prepared for US theater consumption a year later (it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was ruled ineligible for the corresponding Oscar).
Not a lot a happens but, then again, everything does. Shot over four months on a shoestring budget, its six chapters punctuate the period of a decade. The audience are voyeurs, dropped amid the precious and pivotal moments which may not make up a life, but come to define it.
We meet the affluent Swedish couple Marianne and Johan — played by regular screen collaborators Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, both of whom clocked at least 10 Bergman credits — gloating about ten years’ happy marriage to a visiting reporter. This opening magazine photoshoot is the only time we see their two children on camera, and inevitably the image projected is as glossy, reflective and disposable as the paper it will be printed on.
The pressures, pains and communication breakdowns which tear this unsuited pair apart are sadly familiar. The series was blamed for a spike in European divorce rates. It may be difficult to survive the piece liking either lead, but impossible not to emerge sharing deep pathos with them both. Sadly, much of the script is said to be drawn from Bergman’s real-life off-screen relationship with Ullmann.
It’s a hideously humane, surgical close-up likely to leave even the happiest couple groping into the ether on their way out of the cinema.


Thousands of birds die at California’s Salton Sea

In this file photo taken on April 15, 2014 Budgerigars are pictured at Pairi Daiza animal park in Brugelette, Belgium. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
0

Thousands of birds die at California’s Salton Sea

  • The 350-square-mile lake is located in the desert near the Mexican border

SALTON CITY, California: Authorities say thousands of migrating birds have died at California’s Salton Sea this month from avian cholera.
The California Department of Fish and Game says ducks, gulls and other birds were found dead at the south end of the state’s largest lake between Jan. 8 and last Thursday.
Testing showed signs of avian cholera, an infectious bacterial disease. It’s spread through direct contact or from contaminated food or water.
Wildlife officials say outbreaks occur annually as a result of birds flocking closely together during migration.
The 350-square-mile (560-square-kilometer) lake is located in the desert near the Mexican border. It’s a regular stop for migrating birds.