Prior to the HBO adaptation of Scenes From A Marriage, Bergman’s classic love and marriage story inspired Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight series.
Before Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 HBO Max 2021 adaptation Scenes from a wedding, the Swedish director’s classic tale of love and loss has influenced other modern versions of similar marriage stories, including that of Richard Linklater Before midnight and its prequels. Before a screening of the film in June 2013, Linklater, along with co-stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, explained how Bergman’s miniseries was the standard by which the Before The trilogy must be judged. In addition to staring in the film, Hawke and Delpy helped write the script alongside Linklater.
Before midnight is the final installment in Linklater’s three-part film series, albeit a fourth Before the film is not excluded. Spanning 20 years, the series revolves around Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who meet as strangers on the Eurorail and stay up all night walking and talking in Vienna for years. 1994. Before sunrise. Nine years later, the couple reunited in Paris in Before sunset. Like Bergman’s Scenes from a wedding, Linklater’s series centers on the long-standing relationship between a couple who have gone through the various stages of love, dating, and marriage. But the influence of Bergman Scenes on Linklater Before The trilogy goes beyond the subject and themes that they both share.
“Our bar (for Before Midnight) shouldn’t be Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, our bar should be Scenes From A Marriage,” Hawke said during the 2013 Lincoln Center interview. Richard Linklater agreed, and Bergman’s influence on the Before the trilogy appears in the three-part film series in several ways. As Scenes, Linklater’s film series uses literary elements to elevate dialogue and writing, focusing on the arc of the characters on the plot. This is accomplished, in part, by focusing on great writing and acting first and foremost, rather than the visual elements of filmmaking that would normally be the focal point of that medium. While Bergman and Linklater also manage to master the visual aspects of storytelling, it’s the way they use a literary approach to the visual medium that makes their work stand out.
In the original version Scenes from a wedding, Bergman drew inspiration from real life to tell the story of Marianne and Johan. Just like in the Before trilogy, which features one of the best movie endings of the past decade, Scenes from a wedding focuses on a common experience – that moment in a relationship where things move from the court to ease and to see each other for who they really are. This is the feeling that the actors try to convey, and they do it in order to make the audience forget that they are playing. This approach relies heavily on dialogue, but also on the actors who must make conversations rich in dialogue – like the painful confrontations of a marriage that collapses in Scenes from a wedding, and the philosophical discussions between Jesse (Knight of the Moon ‘s Ethan Hawke) and CÃ©line (Julie Delphy) in the Before film trilogy – seem real.
They also need to be interesting enough that the audience will want to spend two hours listening to these characters speak. As with literary fiction, the character’s emotional arc thus becomes the center of the story rather than the plot. This is the challenge Bergman first took on the 1973 original. Scenes, and one that filmmakers like Linklater have pursued ever since. To succeed, a good acting is obviously essential, but it also depends on the existence or not of an alchemy between the performers. Like a symphony, the magic does not come from an individual’s performance, but from how the individual players blend harmoniously into one.
At one point in Lincoln’s interview, Hawke, whose opinions on superhero films were largely correct, compares a series like the Before midnight John Updike trilogy Running Rabbit novels – imagine the three films as chapters in a book, or a collection of connected stories. While each movie in the series can stand on its own, the meaning behind them becomes clearer – and more interesting – once you’re able to see them together as a whole. The same goes for Bergman’s miniseries, which is one of the many reasons audiences and filmmakers continue to be captivated by her so many years later. The modern adaptation of the 1973 Bergman classic, Scenes from a wedding starring Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, premiering on HBO Max on September 12, 2021.
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