Series Mania 2021: Hagai Levi Vs. Ingmar Bergman

Scenes from a Marriage

President of the Lille International Jury this year, the Israeli director of the HBO remake of Scènes de la Vie Conjugale explains how he thought of his adaptation, close, while modernizing the work of the Swedish filmmaker.

He’s one of the world’s most acclaimed series creators over the past decade. Golden Globe for Best Drama Series for The Affair in 2015, Hagai levi is also the one who renewed the psychological drama with Betipul, the original that gave In therapy (on Arte) and In Treatment (to USA). It is therefore with a certain status that he landed at Séries Mania this week, in the shoes of the President of the Jury of this 2021 edition.

A very busy President, since his new nugget shot for HBO, Scenes From a Marriage, remake of the Swedish work of Ingmar Bergman (1973), will be released on September 13 (in France on OCS). The opportunity was too good. Hagai levi delivered an exciting Masterclass, for festival-goers, telling how he approached the modern adaptation of these Scenes from married life.

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Half a century later, the world has changed, society has changed, and the couple has changed. However, Hagai levi did everything to stick to this 70’s series (re-filmed for the international market in 1974) which left a deep mark on his youth. “I didn’t want to lose a crumb of what Bergman had done. The flow of his scenes speaks for itself. I cut episode 2, despite everything, because it was very contemplative and suddenly our version is 5 episodes compared to 6 in the original version.. “But if he scrupulously respected the narrative construction of the Swedish icon, Hagai levi still had to rethink his characters very extensively:

I started working on it by switching between genres. Problem is, I hate the guy in the original version. I do not support it. Bergman doesn’t give a damn about portraying a guy he doesn’t like. And suddenly, we have a woman, who is clearly the victim, towards whom all our empathy goes. And the other is cold, misogynist, he’s a big jerk. Except that the wife, nowadays, is no longer weak and submissive like Marianne is in Bergman’s version. A 2020 update had to be done. It was complicated to write. Maybe harder than for Bergman, because this time the empathy had to go to the two characters. And as I wrote I felt very close to the husband“, recount Hagai levi in front of a full house.

Hagai levi

The screenwriter and director then explains that while Bergman’s work is cruel in itself, “it’s impossible for me to write characters that I don’t understand. For example, everyone loves Succession, but I had a hard time getting into it, because all the characters are hateful! sociopaths And I don’t know how to write something that does not include certain basic chromatic elements, characters who face, at the very least, a form of moral conflict!

The American remake therefore includes profound changes in the approach of the two spouses. Aesthetic too, because the Israeli director has also redesigned the sets where his Scenes from married life. With a little more financial means than Bergman at the time, he chose to refocus the action in the couple’s only house: “In the original version, we see them in their house, the vacation home, his office, her office … In my version, I wanted to put the series in one place: the house She becomes a character in her own right, she changes, she reflects the phases of their marriage. Afterwards, I know Bergman spent something like $ 100,000 per episode. It’s very little. Intentionally by the way. , because he wanted to earn money with this series. Me, I did not have this constraint … “

Scenes from married life, to be seen in France on OCS on September 13th.

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