After almost seven years in which she has pursued her career as concert pianist abroad and after the death of her long-time companion, Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) returns to Sweden to visit her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann), who lives with her husband Viktor (Halvar Björk) in a large vicarage. It soon becomes apparent that the hearty welcome is only a façade. Fearing that her mother would otherwise not have come, Eva has failed to tell her that her sister Helena (Lena Nyman), who is severely stricken with epilepsy, has been living with them for the past two years: for Charlotte abhors any kind of illness. At night when Charlotte is awakened by a nightmare and Eva hurries to her, it comes to a profound confrontation between mother and daughter. Eva discloses for the first time that ever since childhood she has both loved and feared her mother and that she feels unloved and forsaken and suffers from anxiety and feelings of inferiority. Charlotte also admits that she feels helpless and in need of support.
In the year 1965 Ingmar Bergman and Ingrid Bergman had promised each other that they wanted to work together, but their pledge could only be redeemed years later with HERBSTSONATE. It was to be Ingrid Bergman’s last feature film; she died in 1982. Almost like the dramatic struggle between mother and daughter the film pits two great actresses, Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann, against each other – the winner is the audience.
by Ingmar Bergman
with Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Bergman, Halvar Björk
Germany (Federal Republic from 1949) 1977/78