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Brink of Life

aka So Close to Life (Nära livet)
Sweden 1958. Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 84 min. DCP

Bergman’s Cannes-fêted follow-up to the one-two punch of The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries is now little-known. A pared-down chamber piece set in a hospital maternity ward, Brink of Life features three key Bergman actresses — Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck, and Bibi Andersson — as three very different expectant mothers. Ulla Isaksson, who subsequently penned Bergman’s Oscar-winning The Virgin Spring, wrote the script; this was Bergman’s first film since 1953's Summer with Monika not based on his own original screenplay. Brink of Life earned the Swedish filmmaker, noted for his fascination with the inner lives of women, Best Director honours at Cannes; his four female leads — including Barbro Hiort af Ornäs as a nurse — collectively won the festival’s Best Actress prize. The film shocked audiences by realistically depicting the pain of labour.


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