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Port of Call

Sweden 1948. Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 99 min. DCP

Roberto Rossellini’s Italian neorealism and Marcel Carné’s French poetic realism are pronounced influences on Ingmar Bergman’s fifth feature, a moody, gritty drama set (and largely shot) on the Gothenburg docks. A rare work of social criticism from the director — it takes on Sweden’s social-welfare and juvenile-justice systems, along with the issue of abortion — the film concerns Berit (Nine-Christine Jönsson), a suicidal young woman with a troubled background and a domineering, disapproving mother. A romance with Gösta (Bengt Eklund), a sailor, raises Berit’s hopes, but the young man finds himself struggling to accept Berit's past. The destructive parent-child relationship is a recurring Bergman motif; the film was risqué in its day for its forthright eroticism and treatment of abortion. It was also the first Bergman picture shot by Gunnar Fischer (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries), the director’s go-to cinematographer through the 1950s.