Although the screenplay was adapted by the theatre critic Herbert Grevenius from stories by the novelist/actress Birgit Tengroth, there's a decidedly autobiographical tint to these scenes from an acrimonious marriage, Bergman having recently broken with his second wife. In his first film to adopt a female point of view, Bergman traces the plight of Henning, stuck in a Swiss hotel room with husband Malmsten and wondering whether their union was such a great idea after all. The couple's discomfort with each other intensifies on a train journey through a still ravaged Germany, though the tart exchanges are slightly dissipated by a parallel plot involving the crisis of loneliness slowly devouring Malmsten's ex-lover Tengroth. It's a piercing, rather self-involved film, which never quite ties together its narrative strands and classical references (the legend of Arethusa and Alpheus as a metaphor for men and women surmounting their differences), but Bergman looks at home with the material and his confidence with the camera is developing accordingly. On balance, his strongest offering of the 1940s.
Cast and crew