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From the Life of the Marionettes

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten

Peter Egermann, a young German business executive of impeccable background, visits the seedy premises where a prostitute entertains her customers. When the other guests have departed, Egermann becomes agitated, attacks the girl and strangles her. Later he phones his psychiatrist, summons him to the scene of the crime, and reports that he had anal intercourse with the girl’s corpse.
Expatriate during the filming of Marionettes, Bergman nevertheless flourishes an unmistakable autograph. His passionate misanthropy travels with him like a suitcase, and Munich or any other port of call in this world features the same bleak, airless rooms where the dusk of marital breakdown hangs heavy with monologue. The film’s main landscapes are facial, confiding in us against simple backgrounds of walls and shadows. And the faces pour out a familiar litany of disgust and terror, weakness and contempt. It would be an intolerable encounter if Bergman were not , as ever, such a dazzling showman, or if his cast, as ever, did not seem to have been plucked from some secret international confederacy of blazing talent. The language is German, but the vocabulary is unmistakably Bergman, and his new players possess to such an extent the haunted vulnerability of their earlier Swedish counterparts that one can’t help greeting them as old acquaintances.

W. Germany, 1980.
English subtitles.
Colour and black and white.
104 mins.

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