Critic Consensus: If Saraband appears to be a minor entry in Ingmar Bergman's filmography, it's still an accomplished piece of work from one of cinema's greatest masters.
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Critic Reviews for Saraband
With Saraband, the great writer-director has stepped back into the ring for one last epic wrestle with his demons. There is, as always, no easy outcome. But no one ever fought for higher emotional and spiritual stakes.
A parlour-room theatre of emotional cruelty, with all exits barred by the past.
While bringing an abundance of inspiration to this world, Bergman unapologetically refused to ignore the pain and darkness that infects mankind. There will never be another filmmaker like him.
The performances -- welling, unified and multidimensional -- are beyond praise, as are Bergman's visual images.
For those inclined to search for psychological twists, the film offers plenty of Freudian situations capable of provoking lengthy discussions. For the film buff, the discussions will turn to a Bergman still at the peak of his craft.
It is existential gruel, ten portions of misery handed down from the master. Compelling and intense, it is also pitiless.
Audience Reviews for Saraband
[font=Century Gothic]"Saraband", written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, takes place thirty years after the events of "Scenes from a Marriage".(But it is not essential that you see the earlier movie to watch "Saraband.") Once married, Johan(Erland Josephson) and Marianne(Liv Ullmann) have not seen each other in the interim when she decides on a whim to visit him. Johan is now retired from being a professor because of an inheritance from an aunt and living in the country. His son, Henrik(Borje Ahlsedt), from a different marriage, and Henrik's daughter, Karin(Julia Dufvenius), live nearby physically but distant emotionally. Karin's saintly mother, Anna, died two years before. Henrik is an underemployed music professor while Karin is a 19-year old talented classical musician in need of professional training. It is the relationship between Karin and Henrik that takes center stage here.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Ingmar Bergman has not lightened up in his old age. "Saraband" is a chamber piece which is mostly about the damage parents can do to their children. The main flaw here is that there is no real resolution to the main conflict. The performances are of course all great.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Note: I know a lot has been made of this being Ingmar Bergman's swan song. But this is the first appearance of Liv Ullmann, 66, in front of a camera in nearly ten years. So, I am wondering how many more movies will she be appearing in? [/font]
Late Bergman that wasn't quite as well received as his earlier films. I liked it though. We still have very profound relationships to explore.
When Marianne and Johan finally reunite after a lifetime apart its Bergman at his best. The pain, memories, hope and the brutal reality, just brilliant. Then the movie shifts and focuses on Johan's son Henrik and his daughter Karin. I was disappointed at first but the dynamic they share with each other as well as with Johan and Marianne is really fascinating. All four actors are brilliant and the way Bergman cares for each character shines through wonderfully. A fitting last film for one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
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