Bear in mind that Birger Malmsten is no Jean Gabin and most of all you are no Marcel Carné.

Lorens Marmstedt to Bergman during the shooting

About the film

Ingmar Bergman writing on the genesis of the film in Images: My Life in Film:

A few days after the premier of Crisis, the telephone rang. It was Lorens, saying: 'Dear Ingmar. That was an awful film! Hard to imaging anything worse! I suppose your phone is ringning off the hook with offers'. Lorens Marmstedt was an independent producer with a small but well-regarded production company, Terrafilm. He had just been saked by Karl Kilbom, of Sweden's Folkbiogrefter Company, to produce two films. The first project was a Norwegian play called Good People by Oscar Braathen. Herbert Grevenius was the foremost theater critic of the 1940s, and we were good friends. He was the driving force behind the decision to maka me the head of Helsingborg's City Theater. He was also the one who, in 1946, through his connections with Torsten Hammarén, opened the doors for me to Gothenburg's City Theater.

I had read Herbert's screenplay and found it rather tedious. Lorens Marmstedt agreed and asked me how much time it could take me to rewrite it. I promise to do it over the weekend if I was provided with a secretary.

Bergman with the stars of the film, Kollberg and Malmsten.

Shooting the film

According to Bergman himself, the shooting gave him some hard but valuable lessons. Writing in Images

Lorens was a harsh teacher. He was ruthlessly critical and forced me to reshoot scenes he found poor. He could says: 'I've been speaking with Hasse Ekman, who has seen the rushes, and I've had spoke to Kilbom. I must keep things open! It may well be that you won't be allowded to finish shooting. Bear in mind that Birger Malmsten is no Jean Gabin and most of all you are no Marcel Carné'. Lamely I try to defend myself by pointing out some scenes I thought were pretty good. Then Lorens looked at me with his icy light-blue eyes and said: 'I don't understand how you can wallow in this simmering self-satisfaction!'.

David (Malmsten) in trouble.

And he goes on:

I raged; I was desperate and humiliated; but I had to admit he was right. Every day he took the trouble to sit through the rushes. Even though he criticized and insulted me in front of the staff, I had to take it, since he was participating passionately in th birth and development of the film. I cannot remember that he praised me even once during It Rains on Our Love for anything I had done. What he did do was give me a lesson. He said: 'When you and your pals see the dailies, you're in a state of emotional chaos. No matter what, you want everything to be good. That's the reason you have a natural tendency to make excuses to your failures and overstimate what you are seeing. All of you are supporting one another. This is normal, but it's also dangerous. Submit yourself to a psycological excercise. Don't be enthusiastic. Don't be critical either. Put yourself at point zero. Don't let your emotions get involved in what you're seeing. Then you'll see everything.' This piece of advice has been invaluable to me throughout my professional life.

Maggi (Kollberg) and David (Malmsten)

Sources

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

Film facts

Distribution titles

Det regner paa vor Kærlighed (Denmark)
Elämän sateessa (Finland)
Es regnet auf unsere Liebe (West Germany)
Il pleut sur notre amour (France)
It Rains on Our Love (Great Britain)
Lluve sobre nuestro amor (Spain)
Piove sul nostro amore (Italy)
Ungt blod (Norway)

Production details

Production country: Sweden
Distributor in Sweden (35 mm): Svenska AB Nordisk Tonefilm
Laboratory: Film-Labor
Production company: Lorens Marmstedt, Sveriges Folkbiografer AB
Original work: Bra mennesker (Play)

Aspect ratio: 1,37:1
Colour system: Black and white
Sound system: Intensitetston
Original length (minutes): 95

Censorship: 070.851
Date: 1946-10-31
Age limit: 15 years and over
Length: 2610 metres

Release date: 1946-11-09 Astoria, Stockholm, Sweden, 95 minutes

Filming locations

Sweden (1946-1946) (early summer)
AB Sandrew-ateljéerna, Stockholm
Hellasgården, Stockholm
Drevviken, Stockholm

Music

Title: Wiegenlied, K. 350
Alternative title: Schlafe, mein Prinzchen
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (or) Bernhard Flies
Lyrics: Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter (German lyrics 1795)
Comment: Instrumental (repeated eight times).

Title: Beglückt darf nun dich, o Heimat, ich schauen... From Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg
Alternative title: The pilgrim choir. From Tannhäuser
Composer: Richard Wagner (1845)
Lyrics: Richard Wagner (1845)

Reviews and comments

The general tone of the reviews was summed up by Stig Almqvist writing in Aftontidningen: "A breath of fresh air in Swedish cinema. So longed for, so welcome!"

Mikael Katz in Expressen: 

He will receive more praise for It Rains on Our Love. But this time it is well deserved. It is amusing to study Ingmar Bergman's development from Torment to It Rains on Our Love. In Torment the agony of puberty burst out in anguished screams. But it was also infused with the young man's irresistible desire to shock. That is something, incidentally, that permeated most things that Ingmar Bergman has done previously – sensation for sensation's sake.

Lill in Svenska Dagbladet:

And, as we know, Ingmar Bergman is a young talent with ideas all of his own, as witnessed both in Torment and Crisis. But in those he was fairly wound up, not always sure of his means of expression, schoolboyishly exaggerated, dreadfully angry and rather violent, not particularly intelligible. In It Rains on Our Love he reveals himself as a film narrator of a different kind, lyrical, charming, playful, artistically assured yet clearly not intent on breaking windows and causing a scene.

Quotes

Maggi: What do you think of me?
David: I don't think at all. I haven't got round to that.
Maggi: Your average bird who takes off with the first good guy she meets?
David: It wasn't the first guy, but it happened to be the best one.
Maggi: You were so eager. Who are you really? Your hands are so white.
David: I'll tell you some other time.

Man with umbrella: Nice place, don't you think? Quiet and cosy. You had a job, food on the table, and a bed. You had a girl who was quite special, all things considered. But your self-esteem.
David: Some other time, okay?
Man with umbrella: Sure. Sure. It's so bloody complicated.

Prosecutor: I feel that society must protect itself against individuals like these two. At the same time, society must help protect these two from themselves. It is our duty as Christian, humane and enlightened to do so.

Man with umbrella: That's what this whole business is all about. It's about two people who would say, 'Nothing concerns us', because they've been told that, 'You're no concern of ours'. On the other hand, we have their love for one another. Their willingness to adapt. Their effort, albeit awkward, to fit into society. We should look upon that with favour.

Plot summary

Mark Sandberg, 1996: 

Two young people try to protect a fragile love relationship on the margins of society against all pressures from established social institutions and their representatives. Although It Rains on Our Love is perhaps the most schematic of Bergman's early films about adolescents in crisis, with the guardians and adversaries of young love appearing in near-allegorical form, it is also the least tortured. The scenes of idyll and refuge for persecuted young lovers, more fleeting and vulnerable in his other films, here have a warmth that contemporary Swedish critics greeted with positive relief after the "distorted sexuality" of Crisis earlier that same year. The good-father/bad-father dichotomy that will mark much of Bergman's production is resolved here by having the compassionate narrator enter the action of the film as the couple's defense attorney in the final trial scene. An overall tone of naiveté peppered with burlesque irony makes this one of the most optimistic of his early films.

 

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Collaborators

Barbro Kollberg
Birger Malmsten
Gösta Cederlund
Ludde Gentzel
Douglas Håge
More collaborators (39)

About the film

Faithless was first screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. Though it had a rather cool reception, Lena Endre was praised for her portrayal of Marianne Vogler. Still, the prize for best actress went to Björk in Dancer in the Dark, Lars von Trier's film who also had the Palme d'Or.

Swedish critics were kinder when the film premiered in Sweden in September of the same year. The critics applauded Liv Ullmann's good care of her actors, not the least Lena Endre, who once again received praise.

 

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.

Film facts

Distribution titles

Infedele (Italy)
Infiel (Spain)
Faithless (USA)
Treulosen (Germany)
Troløs (Denmark)
Uskoton (Finland)

Production details 

Production country: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany
Swedish distributor (35 mm): Svensk Filmindustri
Production company: Sveriges Television AB
Co-production company: Svensk Filmindustri, SF Norge A/S, Yleisradio Ab, Radiotelevisione Italiana, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen

Aspect ratio: 1,85:1
Colour system: Colour
Sound system: Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording

Censorship:  136.925
Date: 2000-06-05
Age limit: 11 years and over
Length: 4221 metres

Release date:  2000-09-15, Filmstaden, Göteborg, Sweden
Filmstaden, Malmö, Sweden
Filmstaden Söder, Stockholm, Sweden
Röda Kvarn, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Plot summary

Marianne (Lena Endre) is happily married to Markus (Thomas Hanzon), a successful conductor. They have a nine-year-old daughter, Isabelle. Markus's best friend is David (Krister Henriksson). Twice divorced, David is often at Marianne and Markus' apartment, and is Isabelle's favourite storyteller. One night, while Markus is away, David visits the flat as usual. But the sexual and emotional attraction that Marianne and David have for one another changes what was once a safe, platonic friendship. An intense affair develops, with devastating consequences.

Within this complex set of relations, no one is innocent, people manipulate those they love, secrets are revealed, and everyone is faithless.

Erland Josephson
plays the role of Bergman.

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Lena Endre
Erland Josephson
Krister Henriksson
Thomas Hanzon
Michelle Gylemo
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The story is a childhood memory.

Ingmar Bergman in Aftonbladet

About the film

Bergman's screenplay centres on a chapter in The Magic Lantern. He summed up the film in Aftonbladet as follows:

The story is a childhood memory. I had– I believe – just had my eighth birthday and it's a Sunday at the end of July 1926. The family live in an indescribable Chehkov-esque summer house in Dalarna. There are lots of us: Mother, father, Aunt Emma, three children, 'Aunt' Märta, Maj the nanny (whom I love), the cook Lalla and a young female friend of the family called Marianne (whom I also love). Yet I love my beautiful mother most of all. On the Saturday afternoon my father arrives on the Stockholm train..

The director was Ingmar Bergman's son, Daniel, from his marriage to Käbi Laretei. Sunday's Children was his feature film debut.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Lantern.

Film facts

Distribution titles

Niños del domingo (Spain)
Sunday's Children (USA)
Sunnuntailapsi (Finland)
Søndagsbarn (Denmark)
Søndagsbarn (Norway)

Production details

Production country: Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway
Swedish distributor (35 mm): Sandrew Film & Teater AB
Laboratory: FilmTeknik AB
Production company: Sandrew Film & Teater AB, Svenska Filminstitutet, Sweetland Films BV, Sveriges Television AB Kanal 1, Metronome Productions A/S, Suomen Elokuvasäätiö, Kvikmyndasjóður Íslands, Norsk Film A/S, FilmTeknik AB, Eurimages du Conseil de l'Europe, Nordisk Film- & TV-fond

Aspect ratio: Wide screen
Colour system: Colour
Sound system: Dolby Stereo
Original length (minutes): 121

Censorship: 131.506
Date: 1992-07-23
Age limit: 11 years and over
Längd: 3320 metres

Release date: 1992-08-28, Sandrew, Göteborg, Sweden, 121 minutes
Metropol, Malmö, Sweden
Biografpalatset 3, Stockholm, Sweden
Olympia, Stockholm, Sweden

Music

Title: Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman Alternative title: Blinka lilla stjärna
Bearbetning: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1778)
Lyrics: Betty Ehrenborg-Posse (svensk text 1852)
Singer: Marie Richardson

Title: Songes
Composer: Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1849)
Lyrics: Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1849)
Singer: Marie Richardson

Title: Sonat, cello, op. 8
Composer: Zoltán Kodály (1915)
Instrumentalist: Frans Helmerson

Title: Concert, violin (2), string orchestra, BWV 1043, d-minor
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1717)

Title: Härlig är jorden Alternative title: Dejlig är Jorden
Lyrics: Bernhard Severin Ingemann (Danish lyrics 1850 - "Dejlig er Jorden")
Cecilia Bååth-Holmberg (Swedish lyrics 1884)

Plot summary

Ingmar Bergman scripted this elegiac and semi-autobiographical film, directed (in his debut) by his son Daniel Bergman. The story picks up a decade after The Best Intentions, the previous film written by Bergman, leaves off. Sunday's Children focuses on a young boy named Pu and his relationship with his father, a local pastor. Pu observes his father as he shifts from being a didactic preacher, to an ill-tempered husband, to a caring and devoted parent.

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Thommy Berggren
Henrik Linnros
Lena Endre
Jacob Leygraf
Anna Linnros
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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.

 

Sources

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

Film facts

Distribution titles

De la vida de las marionetas (Spain)
De la vie des marionettes (France)
Fra marionettenes liv (Norway)

Production details 

Production country: West Germany
Distributor in Sweden  (35 mm): Sandrew Film & Teater AB, Svenska Filminstitutet
Distributör i Sverige (rentak video): Esselte Video AB
Costume: Heinz A. Schulze-Varell-Couture
Production company: Personafilm GmbH
Bayerische Staatsschauspiel

Aspect ratio: 1,66:1
Colour system: Black and white and colour
Sound system: Optic mono
Original length (minutes): 103

Censorship: 121.472
Date: 1980-10-14
Age limit: 15 years and over
Length: 2840 metres

Release date: 1980-11-07, West Germany, 104 minutes
Swedish release: 1981-01-24, Sandrew, Göteborg, Sweden, 104 minutes
Sandrew, Linköping, Sweden
Sandrew, Malmö, Sweden
Grand, Stockholm, Sweden
Sandrew, Uppsala, Sweden

Music

Title: Touch Me, Take Me
Singer: Rita Wright

Reviews and comments

Jurgen Schildt in Aftonbladet:

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. Admittedly, Robert Atzorn does not elicit unconditional praise as the male lead: this is down to a leadenness which, in his moments of aggression and contrition, makes him appear like a curate about to administer communion. Yet Christine Buchegger is certainly one of Bergman's sparkling new finds. She is composed, expressive, unpredictable, at once both a siren and demon, a Circe and a Beatrice. And the film contains a third leading role, full of strident virtuosity.

That role belongs to Walter Schmidinger in a close-up of the homosexual clothes designer Tomas Isidor Mandelbaum, alias Tim: a character reminiscent of the one created by Erland Josephson in Face to Face. He is the "little old man", with an appearance like that of the elderly Harold Lloyd and two eyes that glow with anguish. In two long and harrowing scenes he pours out his confessions: about homosexuals and hard-nosed market forces, about his cunning, his pills and his alcohol, his hunt for Turkish and Italian small boys at the Central Station, his compulsion to stand knee-deep in the shit….

Eva af Geijerstam in Dagens Nyheter:

I can think of two takes on From the Life of the Marionettes. One is as an anonymous psychological thriller. As such, it succeeds aesthetically, but the murder in the beginning is misplaced. The other is to see it for what it is: a chamber play by Ingmar Bergman, full of references to, and parallels with, his earlier films. But this time he has produced a chamber play with such tightly-closed doors, that I, at least, feel compelled to peer through the keyhole. And that is not an entirely pleasant experience.

Åke Janzon in Svenska Dagbladet:

In common with most of Ingmar Bergman's major films, this also has a touch of the devil's delusions, although technically and artistically it is unassailable. Yet the fact that it also has a tremendous psychological intensity may still not be enough to convince us that the explanation for the murder of the girl Ka is to be found within the framework of the film.

But neither is this Bergman's intention– he expressly states that he is leaving it up to the viewers to draw their own conclusions. Most generous, Professor, but to my mind somewhat remiss. For surely we are hardly supposed to be satisfied by the determinism that the very title, From the Life of the Marionettes, implies?

Plot summary

From the Life of the Marionettes is an unusually raw and explicit Ingmar Bergman drama, featuring two supporting characters from Scenes from a Marriage.

Peter Egermann (Robert Atzorn), outwardly stable and well adjusted, suffers from depression, feelings of sexual inadequacy, and barely suppressed rage toward his wife, Katarina (Christine Buchegger), the latter eventually leading to the brutal rape and murder of a prostitute. Events are not presented in chronological order, but the film consists mainly of a number of scenes preceding the crime that painfully illustrate the Egermanns' marital discord, and a series of subsequent police interrogations involving psychiatrist Mogens Jensen (Martin Benrath), a friend of the Egermanns'; Katarina's business partner, Tim (Walter Schmidinger); and Peter's devastated mother (Lola Müthel).

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Robert Atzorn
Christine Buchegger
Martin Benrath
Rita Russek
Lola Müthel
More collaborators (41)

About the film

Interestingly enough, the two leading roles in the film went to Ewa Fröling and Gunn Wållgren, both of whom would shortly appear in Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. Bergman had worked with Wållgren previously, yet it seems likely that he "discovered" Fröling through her involvement in Sally and Freedom.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.

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Ewa Fröling
Hans Wigren
Leif Ahrle
Gunn Wållgren
Oscar Ljung
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[...] there is literally one hell of a vitality in Ingmar Bergman's exile film that stems from clear-sightedness, experience and rage.

Lasse Bergström in Expressen

About the film

Ingmar Bergman writing on the less than happy circumstances surrounding the beginnings of the project in Images: My Life in Film:

I played on and put together a screenplay for The Serpent's Egg while the lawyers had meetings, the problems were played down, and conversations with the tax authorities were inititated. I was calm, but the jail was deceptive. On January 26, 1976, the tax police came and picked me up. We had just finished editing and mixing Face to Face. [...] I had begun rehearsing Strindberg's Dance of Death at the Royal Dramtic Theater, and finally, the screenplay for The Serpent's Egg was complete. But everything was already wrong. The creative work had been disturbed. I imagined being able to use a situation that was not yet usable. I let the creativity rush in to help as if it were a doctor, nurse, and ambulance, all at once.

There followed the breakdown and the breaking up of camp. Quite by chance I ended up in Germany with my German film. I had an offer from Dino Laurentiis, who saw The Serpent's Egg as a seductive project. I was able to negotiate a sizable director's fee since I, for the moment, was a "bankable" name with Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, and The Magic Flute under my belt.

Sources of inspiration 

Bergman continues in Images

I found in an old issue of Simplicissimus from 1923 a suggestive charcoal drawing of a heavily trafficked Berlin street in wintry twilight. Though we had been scouting in Berlin and other nearby citier for suitable locations, no place could match the street in that drawing. To top it off, it was magically named Bergmannstrasse. Through tough negotiating I managed to talk the producer into building the whole street scene complete with streetcar tracks, backyards, crossing alleys, and domed portals on the lot of Bavaria Studios. The cost was astronomical, but I was giddy with feverish enthusiasm. The Bergmannstrasse came out of the same madness as A Dream Play did, caused by my high blood pressure and hypertension. Warnings bells were ringing, but I refused to hear them.

Shooting the film 

Casting the male lead proved difficult. Bergman in Images

My wife Ingrid and I went to United States to find an actor for the male lead, Abel Rosenberg. First, I asked Dustin Hoffman if he would play Abel. He studied the script and offered a thoroughly intelligent interpretation, but when push came to shove he admitted that he didn't feel he was right for the part and withdrew, assuring me that it would have been fun to work together. Then I met Robert Reford in Berverly Hills. He was friendly and positive but informed me that he could not see himself playing a Jewish circus performer. I had great respect for both Redford and Hoffman, but unfortunately, I did not see it as a warning sign that both of them pulled away.

Next I turned to Peter Falk, whom I considered a very fine actor. He was positive about the part; but for very different reasons, not the least of which were contractual, finally he, too, felt by the wayside. Even in this thorny dilemma, Dino Laurentiis was utterly loyal and did not give up. In an emergency meeting he came up with another actor, Richard Harris. Once more all warning signals stopped flashing in my head; I was consumed with bringing The Serpent's Egg to fruition.

Richard Harris was soaking in a huge water tank on Malta where he was finishing a film about a crazy captain and his love story involving a giant whale. Dino de Laurentiis had had the water tank specially constructed for the filming, and Harris spent most of his time fully immersed. From there came his message that he would enjoy playing the part and working with me. [...] Dino de Laurentiis called me to say that Richard Harris had contracted pneumonia from some kind of amoeba bacteria in the water tank in Malta, and a long convalescence was expected. We had to find someone else.

At this point the name of David Carradine was mentioned as a possibility. Dino sent me a copy of Carradine's latest film, which I viewed next day. It was the story of a country singer and enchanted me. One of the Carradine clan, David Carradine had an exciting look and sang with heartfelt musicality. He reminded me of the Swedish actor, Anders Ek, and the thought that God's finger had finally pointed to right Abel Rosenberg took hold on me.

Two days later Carradine arrived in Munich. We were finally ready to begin. But when I met him for the first time, Carradine seemed absent-minded and a bit strange. To help him get into the right frame of mind for this film, we launched the shooting with a viewing session of two classic Berlin movies: Mutter Drausens Fahrt ins Glück and Ruttmann's Berlin - die Symphonie der Grosstadt. The minute the lights in the theater went out, Carradine fell asleep, snoring loudly. When he woke up I had no chance to discuss his role with him. Carradine's behavior repeated itself during the filming. He was right owl and kept falling asleep on the set. He was found slumped just about everywhere, sound asleep. At the same time he was hard-working, punctual, and well prepared. Because of this, among other factors, we finished the film within our planned time schedule. I was pleased, to say the least, and very proud of our accomplishment. I also nourished considerable hope for a positive reaction.

It didn't hit me until much later – The Serpent's Egg was a substantial failure. I made myself immune to the rather tepid reaction from the critics. I remained optimistic, refusing to see the film what it was. After the film release, my life began to calm down; then I painfully realized the serious extent of my failure. Still, I do not regret for a moment making The Serpent's Egg; it was a healthy learning experience.

 

Sources

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

Film facts

Distribution titles

El huevo de la serpiente (Spain)
L'oeuf du serpent (France)
Ormens egg (Norway)
Das Schlangenei (West Germany)

Production details 

Production country: USA, West Germany
Swedish distributor (35 mm): Fox-Stockholm Film Distribution AB
Production company: Rialto Film
Dino De Laurentiis Corp. (Los Angeles)

Aspect ratio: 1,85:1
Colour system: Färg
Sound system: Optical mono

Censorship: 118 413
Date: 1977.10.20
Age limit: 15 years and over
Length: 3265 metres

Release date: 1977-10-28, Victoria, Göteborg, Sweden, 119 minutes
Camera, Malmö, Sweden
Röda Kvarn, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Reviews and comments

Given the film's reputation as an absolute turkey –fuelled in no small part by Bergman's own self-deprecations –it comes as something of a surprise to discover that the contemporary Swedish reviews were actually rather positive.

Jurgen Schildt in Aftonbladet: 

No matter. Ingmar Bergman's first film made abroad has a power that does not derive from speculation or distorted vision, but from simplicity and its physical watchability. It aims at the middle ground and hits the spot. Franz Josef Strauss, who is juggling some serpent's eggs down in Munich, should perhaps for safety's sake be given a couple of free tickets to the West German premiere. As per the domestic policy motto: lead us not into temptation.

Hanserik Hjertén in Dagens Nyheter:

He shines as a horror film director, turning the film's climax into an unremitting assault on the nerves. This is no mean feat from Bergman the Swede, and David Carradine and Liv Ullmann play their drowning couple with sensitivity and assurance, assisted by Gert Fröbe's splendid monster of a policeman. The problem is that it all gets a little too much of a good thing, a little too much spurting blood and polished violence as entertainment. If Bergman wants to warn us about our own serpent's eggs – which he probably does – perhaps scaring people out of their wits is not a good way to go about it.

Lasse Bergström in Expressen:

It may sound like a film that is as black as night. There are no discernible smiles, and Bergman really is not joking when he says that he has made his first horror film: deep inside the nightmare dwells evil itself, a kinsman of Doktor Mabuse, the early German cinema's premonition of what was to come. But the power of its execution masks the darkness of its vision: there is literally one hell of a vitality in Ingmar Bergman's exile film that stems from clear-sightedness, experience and rage. In the world of art these are glowing qualities – they illuminate The Serpent's Egg, making it a masterpiece among films.

Åke Janzon in Svenska Dagbladet: 

The opening of The Serpent's Egg is masterly. The contrast between poverty and luxury, between the depths of depression and a hectic life of pleasure is portrayed with a tremendous power of suggestion that precludes naivety, conveying a cohesive feel of the inferno with an overall impression of sickness. The film's weakness becomes apparent when Heinz Bennent appears as the cynical Professor Vergérus. In the true spirit of a spy thriller, mystery is heaped on mystery, leading via endless Kafkaesque corridors to the chamber where human experiments are carried out. Here it is that, by looking through the shell of the egg, one can divine the reptile's future birth. Perhaps there is no greater task for a filmmaker than to depict the origin of evil. One can confidently declare that Ingmar Bergman has made a creditable attempt, but I am not sure that he is a truly accomplished embryologist.

Plot summary

Ingmar Bergman's The Serpent's Egg follows a week in the life of Abel Rosenberg, an out-of-work American circus acrobat living in poverty-stricken Berlin following Germany's defeat in World War I. When his brother commits suicide, Abel seeks refuge in the apartment of an old acquaintance Professor Vergérus. Desperate to make ends meet in the war-ravaged city, Abel takes a job in Vergérus' clinic, where he discovers the horrific truth behind the work of the strangely beneficent professor and unlocks the chilling mystery that drove his brother to kill himself.

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Liv Ullmann
David Carradine
Gert Fröbe
Heinz Bennent
James Whitmore
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A French critic cleverly wrote that 'with Autumn Sonata Bergman does Bergman'. It is witty but unfortunate. For me, that is.

Ingmar Bergman

About the film

Bergman writing on the genesis of the film in Images: My Life in Film

The idea of working with Ingrid Bergman was an old desire, but that did not initiate the story. The last time I had seen her was at the Cannes Film Festival at the screaning of Cries and Whispers. She had snuck a letter into my pocket, in which she reminded me of my promise that we would make a film together. Once long ago planned to adapt Hjalmar Bergman's novel The Boss, Mrs. Ingeborg to film. [...] I wrote the screenplay for Autumn Sonata in a few weeks in order to have something up my sleeve in case The Serpent's Egg flopped with a somersault.

Shooting the film 

Bergman continues in Images

My decision was final: I would never work again in Sweden. That is the reason I made the strange arrangement to shoot Autumn Sonata in Norway. As it turned out, I felt perfectly content to work in the primitive studios on the outskirts of Oslo. Built in 1913 or 1914, the buildings have been left just as they were. Of course, when the wind blew in certain directions, the air traffic passed right overhead, but otherwise it was old-fashioned and cozy. Everything we needed was available there, even though the place was dilapidated and had not been kept up. The crew members were friendly but a little amateurish.

The actual filming was draining. I did not have what one would call difficulties in my working relationship with Ingrid Bergman. rather, it was a kind of lenguage barrier, but in a profound sense. Starting on the first day when we all read the script together in the rehearsel studio, I discovered that she had rehearsed her entire part in front of the mirror, complete with intonations and self-conscious gestures. It was clear that she had a different approach to her profession than the rest of us. She was still living in the 1940s.

I believe that she possessed some sort of inspired system of working, albeit a strange one. In spite of her mechanisms for receiving director's cues not being placed where one expected to find them – and where they ought to be – she still must have been somehow receptive to suggestions from two or three of the former directors. After all, she had done excellent work in several American films. In Hitchcock's films, for instance, she is always magnificent. She detested the man. I belive that with her he never hesitated to be disrespectful and arrogant, which evidently was precisely the best method to make her listen.

I discovered early into our rehearsals that to be understanding and offer a sympathetic ear did not work. In her case I was forced to use tactics that I normally rejected, the first and foremost being aggression. Once she told me: 'If you don't tell me how I should do this scene, I'll slap you!' I rather liked that."

Sources

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

Film facts

Distribution titles

Autumn Sonata (Great Britain)
Autumn Sonata (USA)
Essena sonata (Bulgaria)
Høstsonaten (Norway)
Õszi szonáta (Hungary)
Sonata de otoño (Spain)
Sonate d'autonne (France)

Production details 

Production country: West Germany
Swedish distributor (35 mm): Svensk Filmindustri, Svenska Filminstitutet
Swedish distributor (video for rental and sale): (physical): Svenska Filminstitutet
Laboratory: FilmTeknik AB
Production company: Personafilm GmbH
ITC Film Distributors, Ltd.
Other company: Neue Constantin Film GmbH & Co. Verleih K.G.
Kommunernes Filmcentral A/S

Aspect ratio: 1,66:1
Colour system: Eastman Color
Sound system: Optical mono
Original length (minutes): 93

Censorship: 119.325
Date: 1978-08-25
Age limit: 11 years and over
Length: 2540 metres

Release date: 1978-10-08, Spegeln, Stockholm, Sweden, 93 minutes

Filming locations

Norway (1977-1977) (autumn)
Norsk Film A/S, Jar (studio)

Music

Title: Preludium, piano, op. 28. No 2, a-major
Composer: Frédéric Chopin (1838-1839)
Instrumentalist: Käbi Laretei

Title: Suite, no 4, BWV 828
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1731)
Instrumentalist: Claude Génetay

Title: Sonat, fluit, b.c., HWV 369, F-major
Composer: Georg Friedrich Händel (1725-1726)
Instrumentalist: Frans Brüggen, Gustav Leonhardt, Anner Bylsma

Reviews and comments

Hanserik Hjertén in Dagens Nyheter:

Autumn Sonata is a film I can appreciate, but to a certain extent (only) on Bergman's terms. The way he deals with the role of the mother is reported to have disturbed a number of those who have already seen the film. I myself am more cold-hearted and suspect that it might exacerbate the feelings of guilt already held by working mothers. I can well imagine a more rounded view of the perils of being a mother and child. But this is Bergman's version, and it has its harrowing moments and memorable instants which can recommend it to all Bergman admirers. As well as Ingrid Bergman in her best (ever) film role, of course.

Lasse Bergström in Expressen:

For a long period of his life as a mature artist, Ingmar Bergman has been heading towards the enclosed world of the chamber play, in which a few people meet and talk with, or past, each other, and where the space of the drama opens solely onto the landscape of dreams, or of the soul. His new film Autumn Sonata comes close to this approach, but something new has happened to the play in the confined space. We are no longer intended to experience it at a distance. We are to be forced into it, to feel how the mirrors close in on us. Let me begin by saying that I find the power of Autumn Sonata to affect both enormous and unique. Between two screenings I struggled to think of an earlier film by Bergman or anyone else which in the same naked way feels like a punch in the soul –but in vain.

Åke Janzon in Svenska Dagbladet:

Above all, this is Ingrid Bergman's film. More convincingly than ever before, and using her as a medium, Ingmar Bergman has managed to construe the incurable loneliness of the soul. It is a heavy and extremely oppressing film, but it is one of Ingmar Bergman's purest works, with an uncompromising concentration on what is essential, devoid of all artifice. When, nevertheless, at certain points he cannot resist expanding the family circle, placing members of his former team of actors in silent, almost ghost like appearances in moments of reflection, one merely perceives this as the hallmark of the master craftsman. In his next film, perhaps, he may not need them at all– even though we would miss them somewhat.

Quotations

Charlotte: I've never had a taste for people who are unaware of their motives.
Eva: Do you mean me?
Charlotte: Take it the way you want.

Eva: This inconceivably peculiar mother! You should have seen her when I told her that Helena lived here. She even managed a smile, despite her surprise and dismay. And then, outside Lena's door, the actress before her entrance. Awfully frightened – but composed. An outstanding performance. Why did she come, really?

Eva: Yearning?
Viktor: I yearn for you.
Eva: These are pretty words, aren't they? Words that don't mean anything real? I was brought up on pretty words. Mother is never mad, or disappointed or unhappy. She feels pain.

Eva: Viktor, I've often wondered why she suffers from insomnia. I think I know. If she slept normally, her vitality would crush those around her.

Charlotte: Chopin was emotional, Eva, not sentimental. There is a chasm between emotion and sensibility. The prelude you played speaks of suppressed emotion, not reveries. You have to be calm, clear and austere. Take the first few bars… It hurts, but he's not showing it.

Charlotte: Chopin was proud, sarcastic, impetuous, tormented and very manly. He was no sentimental old woman.

Eva: To me, man is an unparalleled creation. Like an unfathomable thought. Everything exists in man, from the highest to the lowest. Man is created in God's own image, and everything exists in God. And so man is created, but also the demons and the saints, the prophets and the artists and all those who destroy. Everything coexists, grows together. Enormous patterns that constantly change. Do you know what I mean?

Viktor: Just a moment, dear Charlotte, and I will try to explain how I view my wife. When I asked her to marry me, she immediately said she didn’t love me.
Charlotte: What are you saying?
Viktor: I asked, did she love someone else? She replied that she had never loved another person, that she was incapable of loving.

Charlotte: I was convinced an abortion was the only solution. I have been until now. All these years of hatred. Why didn't you say something?
Eva: Because you never listen. Because you run away from things. Because you're emotionally crippled. Because you actually loathe me and Helena. Because you're helplessly locked inside yourself, always holding yourself back. Because I loved you. Because you thought I was a failure, disgusting and untalented. And you damaged me for life, just as you yourself are damaged.

Eva: The unhappiness of the mother shall be the daughter's unhappiness. It is as if the umbilical cord had never been cut. 

Plot summary

The warm autumnal hues of a house on a lake give a false, perhaps wished-for sense of security to the setting, the home of a pastor and his wife, Eva (Liv Ullmann). Very soon the steely tone of love avoided, attempted, and denied overrides all hope.

The arrival of Eva's mother (Ingrid Bergman, in her only film with Ingmar Bergman), a world-traveling concert pianist, for their first meeting in seven years occasions a near-complete opening out of feelings by daughter and mother. Near complete, for Ingrid Bergman subtly portrays the mother's love, grief, and guilt as mercurial posturings of a virtuoso performer. The better for our understanding of Eva's sense of abandonment and loss, conveyed in Ullmann's bruising honesty and echoed in the utterings of Eva's disabled sister, Helena. Bergman uses a formal combination of flashback tableau and piercing close-up to answer the daughter's worst fear-that her grief is her mother's secret pleasure-with the reality of indifference.

 

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Ingrid Bergman
Liv Ullmann
Lena Nyman
Halvar Björk
Arne Bang-Hansen
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About the film

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Bjørn Skagestad
Lena Nyman
Keve Hjelm
Agneta Ekmanner
Kristina Camnert
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About the film

Ever the faithful Bergman collaborator, this was Gunnel Lindblom's debut as a film director. Alongside her acting career she had previously –directed a number of stage plays, and adapted one of them for television.

It was Bergman who first suggested filming Ulla Isaksson's novel 'Paradise Square', indicating that he would be willing to produce it via his own company Cinematograph. Lindblom had known Isaksson for some time, and Bergman had directed both Brink of Life and The Virgin Spring based on original screenplays by Isaksson. Bergman now felt the time was right for the two of them to write something together. He and Isaksson set to work towards the end of 1975, and by the summer of the next year they were ready to start shooting. The support of the Swedish Film Institute was virtually a formality, and SF was interested in the project.

Shortly afterwards came the notorious incident of Bergman's arrest at the Royal Dramatic Theatre on charges of tax irregularities. He suffered a breakdown and subsequently went into exile in Germany. This meant that he was unable to oversee the project as he– and Gunnel Lindblom –had originally intended.

The Swedish critics' response was lukewarm, yet the film enjoyed relative success at the box office. Paradise Square was screened in episodes at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, and subsequently went on to achieve some degree of international success. Widely received as a new 'Bergman film' it became –alongside the director's own films –one of the major Swedish cinema export successes of the 1970s.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.

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Birgitta Valberg
Sif Ruud
Margaretha Byström
Agneta Ekmanner
Inga Landgré
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In previous works, Ingmar Bergman has also created some of the most interesting portraits of women in the cinema. But in The Touch he creates, in my opinion, the most penetrating of them so far [...].

Theodor Kallifatides in Chaplin

About the film

On the 5th of July 1970 Ingmar Bergman wrote in his workbook: 'I've finished the screenplay, although not without a fair amount of inner resistance. I baptized it The Touch. As good a name as any other. Now I'm going to take time off until August 3, when we begin the preparations in earnest. I feel depressed and ill at ease. I'd be happy to drop this film.'

For his own sake, he should perhaps have done so. Because The Touch is one of the few films with which Bergman is completely dissatisfied. As he puts it in Images: My Life in Film:

The intention was to shoot The Touch in both English and Swedish. In an original version that doesn't seem to exist anymore, English was spoken by those who were English-speaking and Swedish by those who were Swedes. I belive that it just possibly was slightly less unbearable than the totally English-language version, which was made at the request of the Americans.

The story I bungled so badly was based on something extremely personal to me: the secret life of someone who loves becomes gradually the only real life and the real life becomes an illusion.

Bibi Andersson felt instinctively that this part did not suit her. I convinced her to do it anyhow, since I felt I needed a loyal friend in this foreign production. Besides, Bibi has a good command of English. The fact that she became pregnant after having accepted the part threw a terrible monkey wrench into what seemed, on the surface at least, a matter-of-fact, methodical production set. Cries and Whispers began to make its way forward during this depressing period.

Epilogue 

Shooting began on The Touch on 14 September, coming to an end on 13 November 1970.

Prior to its premiere in Sweden, The Touch was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. Swedish critics and journalists reported a disastrous reception, adding some negative comments of their own. The reports caused one of the film's stars, Bibi Andersson, to go on the defensive:  
One is often tempted to respond to criticism, yet it is best not to do so. Partly because one will never get the last word, and partly because one is wary of being suspected of injured vanity. One's vanity does take a few knocks, so one is fully justified in questioning oneself. But in the light of all the off-the-cuff reviews and gossip written about The Touch in Berlin, my respect for the printed word has diminished and I am emboldened to venture my own views on the film. [...]

First of all, I would like to protest at the claim that the film was booed. I myself stood on the stage to receive the applause, and did not hear one single boo, although I was prepared for the worst. Everyone, critics included, knows that Berlin audiences take a special delight in booing films. Richard Harris is even reported to have booed back, rightly or wrongly – I am not sure which. Perhaps people booed at a different screening from the one I attended. [...]

I am grateful that I only heard positive reactions and was praised, otherwise I would not have dared to go the press conference so willingly. I was so naïve as to be saddened by the fact that I did not see one single Swedish journalist there. One is usually grateful for an encouraging nod or look from a fellow countryman, accustomed as one is to being judged. [...]

The film is 'banal' in the sense of being 'ordinary'. It is about a man, a wife and a lover. I find it strange, on the other hand, that this should be uninteresting. I do not know any woman who has not at some time been touched by Karin's dilemma. Nor any man, for that matter. [...]

So long as we are banal human beings with conflicts that are often banal, I think it would be becoming if we were to embrace banality with at least a smile of recognition.  

Sources

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

Film facts

Distribution titles

Die Berührung (East Germany)
Berøringen (Denmark)
La carcoma (Spain)
Érintés (Hungary)
Kosketus (Finland)
Le lien (France)
El toque (Argentina)
The Touch (West Tyskland)
The Touch (Great Britain)
The Touch - Berøringen (Norge)
The Touch (USA)

Production details 

Production country: Sweden, USA
Distributor in Sweden (35 mm): Svensk Filmindustri
Laboratory: FilmTeknik AB
Production company: Cinematograph AB
ABC Pictures Corporation

Aspect ratio: 1,85:1
Colour system: Eastman Color
Sound system: Optisk mono
Original length: (minutes): 115

Censorship: 110.241
Date: 1971-08-18
Age limit: 15 years and over
Length: 3160 metres

Urpremiär: 1971-07-14, Baronet Theatre, New York, USA, 115 minutes
Sverigepremiär: 1971-08-30, Spegeln, Stockholm, Sweden, 115 minutes

Filming locations 

(1970-09-14-1970-11-29)

Sweden Visby and othe locations on Gotland
Great Britain London

Music 

''Liksom en herdinna'', the film's lead soundtrack (lyrics and music Carl Michael Bellman),

''Alleluia Ave Maria'' (music William Byrd),

''Miss Hopkins'' (music Peter Covent),

''Victimæ paschali laudes'' (latin hymn).

Reviews and comments

Given the nature of the initial reports coming out of the Berlin Festival and Bergman's own, much-quoted , bitter self-censure, it is interesting to note that most criticism of the film in Sweden was actually positive (although not exactly effusive).

Theodor Kallifatides in Chaplin:

In previous works, Ingmar Bergman has also created some of the most interesting portraits of women in the cinema. But in The Touch he creates, in my opinion, the most penetrating of them so far, and via the simplest means.

It has been remarked that The Touch is about relationships between people, various types of contact between them, etc. This is a valid point. (Yet) my own view is that the film is about something else: namely, the difficulty of getting in touch with oneself, of getting to know who one is, where one stands, when one is lying and when one is being truthful. [...]

Bergman appears to imply that one needs to undergo a passion if one is ever to be able to see one's true reflection in the mirror. That may be so. It does not need to be so. Everyday events can be just as damned important when it comes to finding out about oneself. Certain aspects of everyday events, at least. But everyday events in the beautiful homes of the bourgeoisie do not present such opportunities. Karin has to escape into a grand passion, happiness or misery, or both. That is not banal, it is simply a fact. (Meeting) her lover provides her with an opportunity, as does her mother's death. These two events coincide. The woman has awakened, yet is still somewhat drowsy. What Bergman shows us is her entire route to consciousness, and he does so in masterly fashion. Only Strindberg knew more about women.

The dialogue in the film is among the best Bergman has ever written. There is both humour and subtlety: I enjoyed the nuances between the language of the married couple and the language she speaks with her lover. It is one of the quietest films Bergman has made, despite the rather high amount of dialogue.

Mauritz Edström in Dagens Nyheter:

In Bergman's recent films (with the exception of the relapse in The Rite) his previously violent trials and tribulations have given way to a more down-to-earth camera angle and a more low-key tone. The problems of philosophy have been re-formulated to issues of coexistence. His world is still one of a very special middle class nature, yet it is as if the strong feelings of insularity in his films have been in recession.

The Touch continues in this vein. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Bergman of the 50s prior to the religious period, when he was a kind of Olle Hedberg* of the cinema, a portrayer of manners with overtones. It is undoubtedly one of his minor films, (although) one that is lighter in tone without being shallow, and one which counterbalances certain remarkable shortcomings with an indisputable skill of execution.

*"OH...Swedish novelist whose stylistic precision and elegant craftsmanship served to satirize the conventional world of the middle classes..".(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Sven E Olsson in Arbetet:

The Touch is a shallow and banal film which for almost two hours avoids all the moral and psychological complications of that most obsolete of themes: the husband, the wife, the lover. This observation, between film viewers, should not really cause more than a shrug of the shoulders. But let us raise the stakes a little, because The Touch is Ingmar Bergman's latest film. This guarantees, at least, that the banality acquires a considerable curiosity value.

A review by a certain Lars Olsson in the small-circulation film magazine Filmrutan discerned some early product placement in the film: ''The Gotland exteriors are the stuff of tourist propaganda: manicured landscapes shot in beautiful tones. And the interiors seem to be an advertisement for a furniture store. (To a certain extent, this film really is a commercial, since so many brands are on such prominent display.)''

Expressen sensed a scoop in the offing. Had the art house director par excellence been reduced to this? An article appeared on the subject which eventually prompted a reaction from the director himself:

Olsson has missed a great deal. He has not grasped that there is an entire consortium behind The Touch. Professor Carl Malmsten* donated furniture anonymously. "Scraps" will be bagging ten percent of net profits because they gave us an old sofa. "The Glycerine & Rosewater Corporation" helped Bibi Andersson with her tears and will be getting a cut based on the amount of snivelling going on in the audience. [–...]

Seriously though, Olsson's accusation is completely absurd. It is without grounds. There is not one penny of advertising revenue behind The Touch. But it is touching to think of a film critic, his pen going ten to the dozen, counting vacuum cleaners. The interest in my films appears boundless

The truth is that the furniture and props in The Touch worked out 100 per cent more expensive than we had estimated. This huge increase was due to the fact that we were no longer permitted to borrow props. The companies and factories that once looked kindly on us now demanded hire fees. They had grown tired of television and other, less scrupulous, film companies returning borrowed goods that were either worn out or broken. [...]

Otherwise, is it not quite common for private filmmakers to sell advertising space in their works?

It does indeed happen. And I have to say that I find it hard to get worked up over the fact that a petrol company is so bloody stupid as to think that it sells more petrol if the company symbol is seen in a film for a few seconds. Why say no to their money? We filmmakers work under enormous financial pressure. Personally, however, I have managed to get by without vacuum cleaner money.'

* the well-known Swedish furniture designer.

 

Plot summary

Ingmar Bergman's first film in English, stars Bibi Andersson as Karin Vergérus, a Swedish housewife trapped in a stable but somewhat unsatisfying marriage with a small-town surgeon (Max von Sydow). When the lively, engaging Jewish American archaeologist David Kovac (Elliott Gould) enters the picture, Karin gives in to her attraction and begins an affair. But Karin's new relationship turns out to be less fulfilling than she had hoped, and she is torn between staying with David and returning home to her husband and children.

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