Brink of Life

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Year Released: 1958
Rating: 3.5

Anders (Erland Josephson) brings his wife Cecilia (Ingrid Thulin) to the hospital for bleeding while pregnant (she loses the child) and while there meets two other women: giddy Stina (Eva Dahlbeck), who is ecstatic she's going to have a baby and single mother-to-be Hjördis (Bibi Andersson), who wants to abort hers.  The credits list Ulla Isaksson as the lone screenwriter but there is no way Bergman himself didn't have a hand shaping the material: it's claustrophobic, philosophical and tragic - a meditation on what it means to bring new life into the world and a mother's duty when the lousy fathers of the world don't give them the emotional assistance they need (Stina's husband Harry, played by Max Von Sydow, being an exception).  The entire cast is superb - the Bergman Players were truly remarkable - and you can definitely see the beginnings of Persona in there.  The auteur himself may have dismissed it in his later years - he called it "a modest and somewhat effeminate ragout" - but I will not.