Directly after The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries came this relatively minor Bergman. Expanded by Ulla Isaakson from one of her own short stories, it compares and contrasts the experiences of three patients at a Stockholm maternity hospital. Thulin's miscarriage is perhaps a reflection of her loveless marriage to Josephson; teenage tearaway Andersson fears her uncertain existence just isn't ready for a child; while Dahlbeck is hale, hearty and looking forward enormously to the happy event until the start of a harrowing labour. Deservedly, the trio of leading ladies shared the acting prize at Cannes, with Bergman taking the direction award for deftly wrongfooting the audience. We keep expecting flashbacks which never come. Instead, the action is confined to a couple of rooms, where the antiseptic surroundings only add to the women's anxieties. The resolution may be rather pat, but the film slowly turns the screws on emotional intensity and earns the right to be rather touching.