Feature Film, 1946


Bergman's film debut as a director. The foster daughter of a small town piano teacher is courted by her biological mother's decadent lover.

"A few days after the premier of Crisis, the telephone rang. It was Lorens, saying: 'Dear Ingmar. That was an awful film, hard to imagining anything worse! I suppose your phone is ringing off the hook with offers.'"
Ingmar Bergman

About the film

Leck Fischer (1904-1956) was a Danish writer who not only wrote a number of plays that were highly successful both in Sweden and his native country, but was also a prolific screenwriter of Danish films between 1941 and 1950. His stage play The Maternal Heart was premièred in 1944, subsequently purchased by Svensk Filmindustri and renamed The Maternal Instinct.

Another director was initially earmarked for the film, but in early June 1945 Ingmar Bergman was asked to develop a screenplay with which he could make his debut as a director. Bergman in Images: My Life in Film:

Even before the filming of Torment, I had bombarded Carl Anders Dymling with pleas asking to be allowed to make my own film but had been turned down. Then one day they sent me a Danish play. Its title was Moderdyret (The Maternal Instinct), its author Leck Fisher. Dymling promised me that I would be allowed to direct the film if I could manage to write a good script from this grandiose drivel. Wildly happy, I spent my nights writing the scenario, at breakneck speed. After presenting it, I was forced to do two or three rewrites before it was decided that I could make the film during the summer of 1945. Inspired by the succes of Torment, I christened it Crisis. It turned out to be an apt title.

Shooting the film

Shooting began in early July 1945 and was complete by the end of August. The many exterior scenes were to be shot in Hedemora, a rural town in central Sweden.

Bergman in Images: My Life in Film

The first day of shooting any film is always especially tense. That is how it has been for me, up to and including Fanny and Alexander. But this first shooting day was the first one in my cinematic life. I had made meticulous preparations. Every scene was carefully thought out, every camera angle prepared. In theory I knew exactly what I wanted to do. In reality, everything went straight to hell.

There is a classic Spanish play about a couple of lovers who are kept apart by every means possible. When finally they are allowed to spend their first nigth toguether as lovers, they enter the bedroom through separate doors and drop dead. That is exactly what happened to me. The day was hotter than hell, and we were working in a studio with a glass roof. Gösta Rosling, the cinematographer, was not used to the complicated lighting and heavy cameras of the time. He had earned his considerable professional reputation by working with a light camera for the exteriors and in royal solitude. His assistant was inexperienced, and the sound technician a walking catastrophe. The female lead, Dagny Lind, had hardly ever appeared infront of a movie camera before, and she was paralyzed with fright.

Generally speaking, back then one was supposed to do eight camera angle shots per day, which correspondeded to one every hour. This first day we managed to do two. Later, when we viewed that day's rushes, everything was out of focus. What's more, the microphone was visible at the edge of the picture. Dagny Lind spoke as one does on stage. The scenes were the kind you see in the theatre. In short, a veritable catastrophe [...]. At an early stage, when the studio executives wanted to abort the filming, Dymling intervened, having seen three weeks of dailies. He suggested that we start all over again from the beginning. I was deeply grateful to him.

My next guardian angel was Victor Sjöström, who occupied an ill-defined role as artistic adviser to the studio: (from The Magic Lantern)

' [...] As if by chance, Victor Sjöström, began to turn up whereever I was. He grasped me firmly by the nape of my neck and walked me like that back and forth across the asphalted area outside the studio, mostly in silence, but suddenly he would say things that were simple and comprehensible: 'You make your scenes too complicated. Neither you or Rossling can cope with those complications. Film the actor from the front; they like that and it's the best way. Don't keep arguing to everyone. They simply get angry and do a less good job. Don't turn everything into major issues; it'll suffocate the audience. A minor detail should be treated like a minor detail without necessarily having to look like one.' We walk around and around, back and forth across the asphalt, he holding onto the back of my neck and being down-to-earth, factual, and not angry with me, although I was being so unpleasant. [...]'

In addition to the friendly Victor Sjöström, who insisted on treating me as a fellow director, I gained one ally after the long shooting was ended, the film's editor, Oscar Rosander: (In The Magic Lantern): 'When I went to his house after the shooting was completed, and I was disappointed, bleeding, and furious, he treated me with abrupt and friendly objectivity. Mercilessly he pointed out what was bad, terrible, or unacceptable in my film. But he praised me for what he liked. He also initiated me into the secrets of editing – among other things, a basic truth: that editing occurs during the filming itself, the rhythm is created in the script. I know that many directors hold the opposite view. For me Oscar Rosander's teaching has been fundamental.' 


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


  • Inga Landgré
  • Stig Olin
  • Marianne Löfgren
  • Dagny Lind
  • Allan Bohlin
  • Ernst Eklund
  • Signe Wirff
  • Svea Holst
  • Arne Lindblad
  • Julia Cæsar
  • Siv Thulin
  • Anna-Lisa Baude
  • Karl Erik Flens
  • Sture Ericson
  • Margit Andelius
  • Carin Cederström
  • Mona Geijer-Falkner
  • Dagmar Olsson
  • Wiktor "Kulörten" Andersson
  • Gus Dahlström
  • John Melin
  • Holger Höglund
  • Ulf Johanson
  • Hariette Garellick
  • Monica Schildt
  • Singoalla Lundbäck
  • K. Koykull
  • John W. Björling
  • Per Hugo Jacobsson
  • Nils Hultgren
  • Erik Liebel
  • Hjördis Gille
  • Rune Ottoson
  • Brita Billsten
  • Gudrun Stäck
  • Maud Hyttenberg
  • Ullastina Rettig
  • Gustaf Hedström
  • Hortensia Hedström
  • Otto Adelby
  • Hanna Adelby
  • Oscar Heurlin
  • Gösta Qvist
  • Manetta Ryberg
  • Erik Forslund
  • Arne Åkermark, Art Director
  • Jarl Nylander, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Birger Nilsson, Boom Operator
  • Gösta Roosling, Director of Photography
  • Alva Lundin, Titles
  • Lars-Eric Kjellgren, Unit Manager
  • Harry Malmstedt, Unit Manager
  • Ragnar Carlberg, Unit Manager
  • Oscar Rosander, Film Editor
  • Lennart Svensson, Production Mixer
  • Erland von Koch, Music Composer
  • Victor Sjöström, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Harald Molander, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Seivie Ewerstein, Script Supervisor
  • Louis Huch, Still Photographer
  • Ingmar Bergman, Screenplay