Feature Film, 1954

A Lesson in Love

Elegant marital comedy about a gynaecologist who attempts to win his way back into his wife's affections during a journey to Copenhagen.

"On edge, I paced back and forth in the foyer of the movie theater Röda Kvarn, like a lost soul. Suddenly I could hear from inside the theater one roaring wave of laughter after another. And I said to myself: It's not possible! They are laughing. They are laughing at someting I have created".
Ingmar Bergman

About the film

Two years earlier, in the lift scene between Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand that concludes Waiting Women, Bergman had tried his hand for the first time at the light, sophisticated and witty style that he now expanded to a full scale feature film in A Lesson in Love (using the same two principal actors). Earlier he had lacked any immediate opportunity to develop the style, but following the financial debacle of Sawdust and Tinsel, Carl Anders Dymling at SF once again took Bergman under his wing. The two of them decided that, for a while at least, it might be in their mutual interest to abandon more serious subject matter in favour of lighter, more humorous material, preferably with erotic undertones. A Lesson in Love was the first of three films in this manner. It was followed by Smiles of a Summer Night, Bergman's first international success, and Dreams, his way of expressing his gratitude to Anders Sandrew for financing Sawdust and Tinsel. But other themes were subsequently to take over and dominate Bergman's filmmaking, and he never again returned to this particular light-hearted style.


Sources of inspiration 

Bergman in Images: My Life in Film

My own relationship to comedy has been complicated, however, and the difficulties go way back in time. As a child I was considered sullen and too sensitive. From an early age onward it was said that 'Ingmar has no sense of humor'. [...] I made several attemps to create something funny. In Helsinborg I directed two New Year's revues for which I wrote a few skits that I thought were hilarious. But nobody craked even a smile, and I brooded a good deal over how others could so easily make people laugh. [...] In Waiting Women I took my first real stab at comedy.


Shooting the film 

Shooting began on 30 July 1953 and came to an end on 16 September the same year.

Bergman in Images: My Life in Film

There was something fateful about the meeting between the three of us: me, Eva, and Gunnar. Both of them were talented and creative actors. They felt inmediately that although I had perhaps not yet written a spectacular text, the collaboration offered them great opportunities. On my part I was panic-stricken as I attempted for the first time to make a comedy. With overt confidence in me and great tact, they taught me how I should go about it.

[...] In a scene meant for farce, Eva tries to hang herself. In that same moment Gunnar declares his love for her. The ceilling collapses, and the whole incident becomes funny. When we went to shoot the scene, I got cool feet. I told Eva and Gunnar that I had reread the scene in the script and found it totally impossible, boring, poorly written; we would have to do it some other way. Eva and Gunnar protested in union. [...] 'Give us an hour or so to work onit. When we are ready, we'll play the scene for you'. That's is how it happened. And all at once I had a revelation: ah yes, it is possible to do it like this! I could not have received a better lesson. The trust, the security, the lack of tension, and the professionalism were forever established between us and becamea stable foundation for the comedies we did together, not the least of which is Smiles of a summer night

 

Sources

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

Collaborators

  • Eva Dahlbeck
  • Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Yvonne Lombard
  • Harriet Andersson
  • Åke Grönberg, Adam, skulptör, Mariannes älskare
  • Olof Winnerstrand
  • Birgitte Reimer
  • John Elfström
  • Renée Björling
  • Dagmar Ebbesen
  • Sigge Fürst
  • Carl Ström
  • Siv Ericks
  • Helge Hagerman
  • Gösta Prüzelius
  • Torsten Lilliecrona
  • Arne Lindblad
  • Georg Adelly
  • Julie Bernby
  • Henning Blanck
  • Olle Ekbladh
  • Gustaf Färingborg
  • Kaj Hjelm
  • Vincent Jonasson
  • Wera Lindby
  • Georg Skarstedt
  • Bengt Thörnhammar
  • Ingmar Bergman
  • Yvonne Brosset
  • Göran Lundquist
  • Margareta Öhman
  • John Starck
  • Kjell Nordenskiöld
  • Tor Åhman
  • Torbjörn "Tompa" Jahn
  • Mats Olsson
  • Tor Borong
  • Björn Näslund
  • John Melin
  • P.A. Lundgren, Art Director
  • Bengt Nordwall, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Sven Löfgren, Driver
  • Nils Löfgren, Driver
  • Sven Säfström, Gaffer
  • Martin Bodin, Director of Photography
  • Gustav Roger, Unit Manager
  • Oscar Rosander, Film Editor
  • Sven Hansen, Production Mixer
  • Dag Wirén, Music Composer
  • Eskil Eckert-Lundin, Orchestra Leader
  • Allan Ekelund, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Rolf Carlsten, Assistant Director
  • Bente Munk, Script Supervisor
  • Birgit Norlindh, Script Supervisor
  • Nils Nittel, Make-up Supervisor
  • Ulrika Gernandt, Make-up Supervisor
  • Louis Huch, Still Photographer