autumn-sonata-hostsonaten-nov-20thIt has been many years since concert pianist Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) last saw her married daughter Eva (Liv Ullman). But following the death of Charlotte’s partner she is invited to visit. Charlotte has previously put her career first, and is shocked to find that Eva has removed her disabled sister, Helena, from the asylum in which Charlotte had left her. Eva has brought Helena to live with her family, perhaps compensating for the loss of her son. Ingmar Bergman characteristically brings complex and uncomfortable emotions to his film-making in this story of flawed family
relationships. (Cert 15)
Dir: Ingmar Bergman 92 mins Fr/Ger/Swe 1978
Preceded by the Annual General Meeting at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Autumn Sonata (Hostsonaten)
Germany/France/Sweden 1978 92mins Cert 15

Eva, a former journalist, now lives at home in the country with her husband Viktor (a minister) and mentally disabled sister Helena. Eva’s son had died in an accidental drowning when he was four. Helena had been placed in an institution about seven years before by her mother Charlotte, so that Charlotte could focus on her career as an internationally renowned pianist. Eva decides to ask Charlotte, whose partner has died, to come for an extended visit.

This is not a family at ease with itself (Charlotte being unaware that Eva had taken Helena out of the institution two years before) so that suppressed tensions around this and other matters soon manifest themselves in a series of intense and damaging exchanges between Eva and Charlotte. Viktor tries to distance himself from their conflict.

Music plays a compelling role in the film, Chopin’s haunting prelude No.2 in A minor communicating the clarity of Bergman’s own vision and, later, a Bach ‘cello suite underscoring a moment of sadness in Helena’s early life.
Acknowledgments: Peter Cowie,

“…the film is like a two–woman truth–and–reconciliation committee – only without the reconciliation” Tim Robey, The Telegraph

“Filmed by Sven Nykvist in the haunting palette suggested by its title, Autumn Sonata uses Bergman’s signature technique of tightly focused close-ups in an almost claustrophobically small setting to tell the story of a daughter, Eva…” Farren Smith Nehme,

Charlotte – Ingrid Bergman
Eva – Liv Ullmann
Viktor – Halmar Bjork
Eva as a child – Linn Ullmann

Director – Ingmar Bergmann
Producer(s) – Lew Grade
Screenplay – Ingmar Bergman
Cinematography – Sven Nykvist


“Faultless direction and performances from all”

“Good acting but harrowing film”

“Phew …. intense! Amazing acting, extremely powerful film”

“Extra-ordinary film, extra-ordinary acting”

“Brilliantly acted – somewhat harrowing. I blame it on those serviettes!”

“Brilliant acting – unwatchable film”

“Superbly acted by both women.”

“The curse of family life is rarely pure and never simple!”

“An emotional roller-coaster ride, with two Bergmans for the price of one. A career-high performance from Ingrid and some excellent theatrical direction from Ingmar.”

“Very deep indeed. Ingrid Bergman was superb in every way.”

“Two Bergmans in towering form!”

“Very moving”


“An absorbing psychological drama – amazing performances from all four actors, signifying Bergman’s great gift as an actors’ director. Superb!”

“So much grief, so much anguish but brilliant acting. Let’s lighten up a bit, next time.”

“Powerful – not only for the hairstyle like Mrs T’s!”

“Those Swedish musicians!”

“Women – never did understand them! I felt sorry for Viktor.”

“Sad, cold, distant and slow”

“Not interesting enough”

“Hope I sleep tonight!”


A:20, B:14, C:3, D:3, E:0 to give 82%