Changing love in ‘Scener ur ett äktenskap’ (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)


  • Jono Van Belle Ghent University
  • Eduard Cuelenaere Ghent University


1960s, 1970s, Ingmar Bergman, Love, Scenes from a Marriage, Sexuality


Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973), the popular television series by Ingmar Bergman, has been said to double divorce rates in Sweden. Indeed, a quick look at some social statistics shows a rise of approximately 16.000 divorces in 1973 to an astonishing +26.000 the year after. However, when looking at the wider Western context, divorce rates are similar in the US and other European countries, be it more gradual. More than encouraging divorce, the series most likely touches upon crucial changes in society and conceptions of love and marriage. It is the relation of the series to its social context that we aim to bring forward in this article. We find that Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973) strongly connects to the society it is created in and the changes said society undergoes. Johan and Marianne struggle with the ideal of everlasting passion in marriage. On an individual level, they struggle with their identity within and in relation to their marriage. As the reasons to marry in society evolve from practical to the pursuit of happiness, they struggle to remain together. Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973) provides a rare representation of love and marriage, as it reacts against dominant representations. It does so by showing only true love and respect after a harsh divorce. It is only when marriage as a whole and the banality of everyday life is abandoned that the main characters succeed in loving.