Feature Film, 1958

Brink of Life

Small scale story of three women in a maternity ward.

"This time Ingmar Bergman has had the good sense that he has not always shown: he has joined forces with a top class screenwriter. Ulla Isaksson has presented him with an excellent script from which his direction has produced a maximum of effects. Not artificial effects, but true-to-life narration."
C B-n in Dagens Nyheter

About the film

Having promised Sveriges Folkbiografer a film, Bergman finally opted to base it around two short stories from a collection (Aunt of Death) by his friend Ulla Isaksson. He and Isaksson were to work together again: she wrote the screenplays both for The Virgin Spring and The Blessed Ones.

Shooting the film

Shooting the film proved troublesome. Folkbiografer owned a studio in the basement of an old building in Stockholm's Östermalm area that was once a school gymnasium. The premises were both dilapidated and extremely dirty. An influenza epidemic was raging at the time, and as the behind-the-scenes film shows, the director (always prone to infection) took to wearing a face mask for the shoot.

Bergman in Images: My life in Film

From time to time (rather frecuently) we went behind the sets, where laughing gas was kept. Laughing gas is as addictive as a dope, though it has shorter effect. Max Wilén, the cameraman, turned out to be an adequate crftsman without any sensibility or joy. We carried out gloomy collaboration with sullen but polite decorum. The laboratory was also a disaster (scratches and dirt on the developed film). All together, the film isn't much. The actresses remain its biggest asset. Just as in other pressured situations, these women proved their professionlism, inventiveness, and unshakable loyality. They had the ability to laugh in the face of trouble. They had sisterhood. Consideration and caring for each other. Actors, yes, they deserve especial chapter, but I don't know if I'd be able to explain and illuminate how each one influenced the origin and composition of my films.


At a time when very few men had ever been present at an actual birth, Brink of Life came as a shock for many viewers. The newspapers reported people fainting (the record being set in Bergen in Norway, where eight people passed out during the same screening!).

Brink of Life picked up three awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958. Ingmar Bergman won the international award for direction. Eva DahlbeckIngrid ThulinBibi Andersson and Barbro Hiort af Ornäs shared the award for best actress and Ulla Isaksson won the international screenplay award.


  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film.


  • Eva Dahlbeck
  • Ingrid Thulin
  • Bibi Andersson
  • Barbro Hiort af Ornäs
  • Erland Josephson
  • Inga Landgré
  • Gunnar Sjöberg
  • Max von Sydow
  • Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz
  • Sissi Kaiser
  • Margaretha Krook
  • Lars Lind
  • Monica Ekberg
  • Gun Jönsson
  • Maud Elfsiö
  • Kristina Adolphson
  • Gunnar Nielsen
  • Inga Gill
  • Bengt Blomgren
  • Bibi Lindström, Art Director
  • Sven Brodin, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Max Wilén, Director of Photography
  • Gunnar Lundin, Unit Manager
  • Carl-Olov Skeppstedt, Film Editor
  • Lennart Svensson, Production Mixer
  • Ulla Isaksson, Screenplay
  • Gösta Hammarbäck, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Gösta Ekman, Assistant Director
  • Hilding Gahnström, Property Master
  • Lars Engström, Advisor
  • Ingrid Wallin, Script Supervisor
  • Nils Nittel, Make-up Supervisor
  • Ingmar Bergman, Director