Feature Film, 1978

Autumn Sonata

Successful concert pianist is confronted by her neglected grown-up daughter.

"A French critic cleverly wrote that 'with Autumn Sonata Bergman does Bergman'. It is witty but unfortunate. For me, that is."
Ingmar Bergman

About the film

Bergman writing on the genesis of the film in Images: My Life in Film

The idea of working with Ingrid Bergman was an old desire, but that did not initiate the story. The last time I had seen her was at the Cannes Film Festival at the screaning of Cries and Whispers. She had snuck a letter into my pocket, in which she reminded me of my promise that we would make a film together. Once long ago planned to adapt Hjalmar Bergman's novel The Boss, Mrs. Ingeborg to film. [...] I wrote the screenplay for Autumn Sonata in a few weeks in order to have something up my sleeve in case The Serpent's Egg flopped with a somersault.

Shooting the film 

Bergman continues in Images

My decision was final: I would never work again in Sweden. That is the reason I made the strange arrangement to shoot Autumn Sonata in Norway. As it turned out, I felt perfectly content to work in the primitive studios on the outskirts of Oslo. Built in 1913 or 1914, the buildings have been left just as they were. Of course, when the wind blew in certain directions, the air traffic passed right overhead, but otherwise it was old-fashioned and cozy. Everything we needed was available there, even though the place was dilapidated and had not been kept up. The crew members were friendly but a little amateurish.

The actual filming was draining. I did not have what one would call difficulties in my working relationship with Ingrid Bergman. rather, it was a kind of lenguage barrier, but in a profound sense. Starting on the first day when we all read the script together in the rehearsel studio, I discovered that she had rehearsed her entire part in front of the mirror, complete with intonations and self-conscious gestures. It was clear that she had a different approach to her profession than the rest of us. She was still living in the 1940s.

I believe that she possessed some sort of inspired system of working, albeit a strange one. In spite of her mechanisms for receiving director's cues not being placed where one expected to find them – and where they ought to be – she still must have been somehow receptive to suggestions from two or three of the former directors. After all, she had done excellent work in several American films. In Hitchcock's films, for instance, she is always magnificent. She detested the man. I belive that with her he never hesitated to be disrespectful and arrogant, which evidently was precisely the best method to make her listen.

I discovered early into our rehearsals that to be understanding and offer a sympathetic ear did not work. In her case I was forced to use tactics that I normally rejected, the first and foremost being aggression. Once she told me: 'If you don't tell me how I should do this scene, I'll slap you!' I rather liked that."


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


  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Liv Ullmann
  • Lena Nyman
  • Halvar Björk
  • Arne Bang-Hansen
  • Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Erland Josephson
  • Georg Løkkeberg
  • Linn Ullmann
  • Knut Wigert
  • Eva von Hanno
  • Marianne Aminoff
  • Mimi Pollak
  • Tommy Persson, Boom Operator
  • Per Mørk, Construction Coordinator
  • Jo Banoun, Gaffer
  • Sven Nykvist, Director of Photography
  • Lars Karlsson, Assistant Cameraman
  • Carl Gustaf Nykvist, Assistant Cameraman
  • Hans Lindgren, Unit Manager
  • Sylvia Ingemarsson, Film Editor
  • Inger Pehrsson, Costume Designer
  • Barbro Sörman, Costume Designer
  • Owe Svensson, Production Mixer
  • Rolf Persson, Painter / Scenic Artist
  • Daniel Bergman, Grip Best Boy
  • Bo Andersson, Key Grip
  • Ulf Pramfors, Key Grip
  • Ragnar Waaranperä, Key Grip
  • Gunnar Bøvollen, Key Grip
  • Jarle Hole, Key Grip
  • Bjarne Kjos, Key Grip
  • Lena Hansson-Varhegyi, Production Assistant
  • Lars-Owe Carlberg, Production Accountant
  • Katinka Faragó, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Jon Arvesen, Property Master
  • Demetrios Glavas, Property Master
  • Anna Asp, Production Designer
  • Cecilia Drott, Make-up Supervisor
  • Tom Olsson, Carpenter
  • Percy Nilsson, Carpenter
  • Knut Andersen, Other Crew
  • Gunnar Sakshaug, Other Crew
  • Ase Seim, Other Crew
  • Ingmar Bergman, Screenplay