Feature Film, 1980

From the Life of the Marionettes

A businessman with a tempestuous marriage is subject to murderous impulses.

"Down in Munich, Bergman has set himself free from his well-thumbed Swedish family album, and the subsequent loss in domestication has meant a gain in freshness and revitalization."
Jurgen Schildt in Aftonbladet

About the film

Ingmar Bergman in Images: My Life in Film:

From the life of the Marionettes is my only German film. The Serpent's Egg may at first glance appear equally German. But I conceived it in Sweden and wrote it at about the same time I was receiving the warning sings of my own personal catastrophe. The Serpent's Egg is presented from the point of view of an outsider's desperate curiosity, but when I made From the Life of the marionettes, I had to some degree accepted my own life in Germany and no longer had problems with the language. I had been working in the German theater for some time and could tell if what was said sounded right or wrong. I felt that I knew the German people and their culture.

Sources of inspiration 

Writing on the genesis of the film in Images

During my second year in Munich (in 1977), I had begun writing a story I called Love with No Lovers. It was heavy and formally fragmented, and it mirrored an upheaval that clearly had something to do with my exile. The setting was Munich, and it dealt, as did my silent movie dream, with a large amount of film segments that had been abandoned by the director.[...]

Nobody in Sweden wanted to invest a penny in Love with No lovers, even though I was willing to put my own money into it. I spoke with Horst Wendlandt, who was the German coproducer of The Serpent's Egg, but he had been burned by that experience. Dino De Laurentiis declined as well, and it was soon evident that this large, expensive project would not get off the ground. That was all there was to it. I had been around and knew that the more expensive your projects were, the greate the possibility of refusal.

I buried the project without bitterness and didn't think about it further. Later, in order to foster and strengthen the ensemble at the Residenz Theater, I thought it might help if we made a television play together. So I carved the story about Peter and Katarina out of the buried Love with no lovers.

There are a few scenes left from the original script, but, by and large, From the Life of the Marionettes is fresh.

The film is based on concrete observations and memories surrounding a theme that had haunted me for a long time: how two human beings who are insolubly and painfully united in love at the same time tryp to rip themselves free of their shakle.

The main characters of From the Life of the Marionettes, Peter and Katarina, appeared previously in Scenes from a Marriage, in which they acted as counterpoints to Johan and Marianne in the first episode.



  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film.


  • Robert Atzorn
  • Christine Buchegger
  • Martin Benrath
  • Rita Russek
  • Lola Müthel
  • Walter Schmidinger
  • Heinz Bennent
  • Ruth Olafs
  • Karl-Heinz Pelser
  • Gaby Dohm
  • Toni Berger
  • Erwin Faber
  • Doris Jensen
  • Rolf Zehetbauer, Set Decorator
  • Sven Nykvist, Director of Photography
  • Lars Karlsson, Assistant Cameraman
  • Karl-Heinz Hofmann, Assistant Cameraman
  • Michael Juncker, Unit Manager
  • Franz Achter, Unit Manager
  • Petra von Oelffen, Film Editor
  • Geri Ashur, Film Editor
  • Emmi Horoschenkoff, Costume Designer
  • Anton Eder, Costume Designer
  • Norbert Lill, Sound Assistant
  • Paulette Rubinstein, Sound Assistant
  • Peter Beil, Production Mixer
  • Rudolf Iblherr, Color Timer
  • Mathilde Basedow, Make-up / Hair
  • Milan Bor, Re-recording Mixer
  • Rolf A. Wilhelm, Music Composer
  • Joe Hembus, Press Agent
  • Horst Wendlandt, Producer
  • Heidi Huber, Production Accountant
  • Paulette Hufnagel, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Irmgard Kelpinski, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Helma Flachsmeier, Production Secretary
  • Trudy von Trotha, Assistant Director
  • Johannes Kaetzler, Assistant Director
  • Harry Freude, Property Master
  • Barbara Freude Schnaase, Property Master
  • Herbert Strabel, Production Designer
  • Arne Carlsson, Still Photographer
  • Ingmar Bergman, Screenplay