Autumn Sonata (1978)

autumn sonata poster 1978 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Exactly what you'd expect from Ingmar Bergman

Not much of a story like many Bergman films

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Autumn Sonata

Studio:  ITC Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  October 8, 1978 (Sweden)/October 18, 1978 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

autumn sonata liv ullmann ingrid bergman

A visit will be nice she said…

Eva (Liv Ullmann) has invited her mother Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) to the home of her and her husband Viktor (Halvar Björk) in the hopes of potentially mending differences between them. When Charlotte arrives, she finds her disabled daughter Helena (Lena Nyman) is also staying with Eva and is reminded of her past failings as a mother. Eva is dealing with her own tragedy, but it is her opportunity to truly talk to her mother and past that was buried will be raised.

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten) is a Swedish family drama. Following The Serpent’s Egg in 1977, the film was Bergman’s last film strictly for the theaters and the final film performance of Ingmar Bergman who died of breast cancer in 1982. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Bergman) and Best Original Screenplay. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #60) which was also part of the Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema box set celebrating the director’s one hundredth birthday.

autumn sonata ingrid bergman liv ullmann

Ready for a throwdown, Mom?

Bergman always does solid drama-dramas. Generally, it isn’t about the story as much as it is about the acting and the emotion tied to it. With Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann holding down the fort, I knew Autumn Sonata would probably score…and it did.

The story is built on regret like many of Bergman’s stories. You have Liv Ullmann’s character who is ruined by regret (including losing her son) and finding herself unable to love or be loved due to her past with her mother. You have a mother who realizes she made mistakes but also doesn’t realize the extent of her actions. This of course leads to an explosion of emotion that literally is two characters talking and having it out for about twenty minutes of the film…something that most directors can’t pull off.

Ingrid Bergman gets a lot of credit for this film, and it is rightfully so. It was her first time working with Ingmar Bergman (no relation), but it is a solid performance (she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer). Bergman is good, but she is smartly paired with Liv Ullmann who shows optimism for a reconciliation with her mother but finds that keeping silent isn’t possible. Both Lena Nyman and Halvar Björk give nice supporting performances as well.

autumn sonata liv ullmann ingrid bergman final film

It’s going to be a long night

The movie feels intimate. There is a warmth to the film and despite the resentment and anger of the characters, this warmth carries it over. It is important that the house feels like a real home and Bergman makes it feel real.

Autumn Sonata is one of those movies that feels like a slice of life. You know that a lot of things happened before the film and there is an indication that more will happen after the film is over. Bergman often used this model and it is an interesting approach to storytelling. Despite having television take over his creative measures, Bergman continued strong and followed Autumn Sonata with From the Life of the Marionettes in 1980.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response