LikeTelevision presents - a 1958 film directed by the Swedish legend, Ingmar Bergman called Nara livet, or Brink of Life. The film takes place in the maternity ward of a hospital and explores the powerful emotions of childbirth. Three pregnant women are the stars - each at a different stage of being pregnant and also in very different relationships with the men who fathered the babies. The film is really terrific and the fact that it was shot in the 1950s makes it even more compelling - knowing that the young girls are now in their 70s and 80s - and the babies in the movie are now almost 50 years old.
Brink of Life
Directed by - Ingmar Bergman
(1958) - B&W - 85 min
Over a 24 hour period - the film tracks the immensely powerful event of having children. For some reason - this part of life has been largely ignored by movies. There are countless films about people dying - but I can't think of another film that really examines the glory of childbirth and being pregnant. For each of these three women - it is their first baby, though one of the women has already had an abortion. This is an amazing film - and one of Bergman's best.
Intro, B&W, opening credits etc. The first woman is named Cecilia, played by Ingrid Thulin. She is in the early stages of pregnancy, and is having trouble. Not only is her baby at risk due to bleeding, she is also having marital issues with her husband, Anders Ellius (played by Erland Josephson)
Stina (Eva Dahlberg) and Harry (Max von Sydow) Andersson - the happy couple
Hjordis Petterson (played by Bibi Andersson)
Cecilia feels that her husband no longer loves her and she tells him so. While he appears upset - he says nothing and just leaves when she tells him to. Meanwhile we learn more about Hjordes, the young unmarried mother to be, who has a real jerk for a boyfriend. She has arrived in the hospital due to bleeding and hoped she would lose the baby. She calls her boyfriend, who won't even visit her and he encourages her to have another abortion. (We learn she had a previous abortion after getting pregnant from the same guy - but it was a terrible experience fro her, and she vowed never to do it again). We also meet the counselor, who is encouraging her to have the child and learn that the counselor is unable to have children.
Anders Ellius (played by Erland Josephson) offers his wife Cecilia a drink
Stina is in the final stages of pregnancy. She is madly in love with her husband and just tickled pink at the thought of having a baby. In an odd scene - Nurse Brita gives Stina some castor oil, mixed with some beer (ha - times have changed). We also meet Stina's husband, Harry - played by a very young Max Von Sydow. (this film was made the year after Bergman's most acclaimed works - The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, which also featured the young Max von Sydow).
Brink of Life
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Cecilia Ellius (played by Ingrid Thulin)
Stina goes into labor and she gets moved to a different room. We watch as she screams and suffers dearly during a very painful labor. Meanwhile, Hjordis and Cecilia share a cigarette in bed and have a long chat about their fears and emotions. Unfortunately - Stina loses her baby who dies during the birthing process. Stina is devasted - her joyful demeanor is replaced by despair.
Everyone love Nurse Brita (played by Barbo Hiort af Ornas)
Part five opens with a room filled with new mothers. A nurse wheels in a cart - where babies are in drawers and offered to their mother for a morning feeding. But no Stina. She is brought back to the room with Hjordis and Cecilia. The doctor tries to explain what happened but is at a loss to do so. Meanwhile, Nuurse Brita helps convince Hjordis to call her mother and offers comfort and love. Cecilia gets a visit from her husband Anders' sister who tries to patch up the relationship. A wonderful film - A+.
The doctor tells Stina she is ready to deliver the baby
Stina lloks to Nurse Brita for comfort
Cecilia Ellius is in pain, not only from bleeding - but mostly because she fears her husband does not love her anymore
Anders' sister (played by Inga Landgre) offers comfort to Cecilia