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Sweden 1958
Directed by
Ingmar Bergman
88 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Brink Of Life

Although critically well-received in its day, Brink Of Life is now a largely forgotten Bergman film. Shot in black and white in a sparsely furnished ward of a real hospital with a documentary-like observational approach the film is a kind of precursor to Bergman’s later dialogue-and-character-focussed work.  

Based on a contemporary short story, 'The Aunt Of Death', by Ulla Isaksson, the story concerns three women, all experiencing pregnancy for the first time, in a maternity ward. One (Ingrid Thulin) has just miscarried, one (Eva Dahlbeck) is about to give birth and the other is young woman (Bibi Andersson) experiencing complications from an unwanted pregnancy.

Bergman is well-known for his attention to the female universe but Brink Of Life is quite remarkable as in dealing so intimately with childbirth it is profoundly embedded in the woman’s experience despite being on a larger level concerned with the seemingly indiscriminate nature of life itself. Although the three women are to a certain extent typologically drawn (the Bibi Andersson role was created by Bergman and was not in the original text)  the performances are strong and anyone attracted to the director’s sense of the tragic will find this a worthwhile, if relatively minor, entry in Bergman’s canon.




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