Close Up

5 November 2018: Autumn Sonata


Autumn Sonata
Ingmar Bergman
1978 | 93 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish & English with English subtitles

“Shot during Bergman’s self-exile from Sweden, Autumn Sonata trades the rocky, windswept coastlines of much of the director’s output for the verdant alpine climes of Norway, where Eva (Liv Ullmann) lives in a cottage with her kindly husband Viktor (Halvar Björk) and disabled sister Helena (Lena Nyman). To this quiet abode comes Eva’s mother, Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman), an internationally successful concert pianist who at first delights with her arrival after a seven-year absence, but whose history of inadequacies as a parent resurfaces gradually over a series of soulful mother-daughter heart-to-hearts. A fiercely intimate two-hander with the tense silence of Cries and Whispers but bathed in its own unique autumnal glow, the film was Bergman’s first and only collaboration with cinema’s other monumental Bergman, who had to unlearn her classical techniques to meet the demands of her director’s unsparing, close-up-heavy naturalism. Whatever the challenges of their trial run, however, the result, surely elevated by Ullmann’s typically self-sacrificing co-starring turn, is one of the great final performances in film history, an emotional exorcism that casts the star’s faded glamour in a devastating light.” – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on Ingmar Bergman