Adapted from Ulla Isaksson’s short story about the pains and ironies of a hospital childbirth ward, So Close to Life sees Bergman focus on female characters under stress. Three women (brilliantly played by Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck and Bibi Andersson) share a maternity ward: one has had a miscarriage and feels it’s a punishment for her marriage break-up; the second is happily married and desperately wanting a child, but loses it; the youngest, who is unmarried, has tried to have an abortion. The maternity hospital becomes the very laboratory of life. This is the place where a woman endures her greatest agony, and brings forth new life as a result. The fact that none of the three leading characters in the film give birth is deliberately engineered so that it is the prospective mothers themselves who can be seen to have profited psychologically from the experience. The characters change because of what they have witnessed and undergone. They have looked long and deep into the terrifying mirror of life and have seen their own pathetic postures and foolhardiness.
1957.English subtitles.Black and white.84 mins.