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Brink of Life, (Swedish: Nära livet, and known as So Close to Life in the UK)[1] is a 1958 Swedish drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman. Bergman won the Best Director Award and Andersson, Dahlbeck, Ornäs and Thulin won the Best Actress Award at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Brink of Life (US), So Close to Life (UK)
Brink of Life.jpg
Swedish poster
Directed byIngmar Bergman
Written byUlla Isaksson
StarringEva Dahlbeck
Ingrid Thulin
Bibi Andersson
Release date
  • 31 March 1958 (1958-03-31)
Running time
84 minutes


Cecilia Ellius is admitted to a hospital after she has begun badly bleeding during her third month of pregnancy. She is accompanied by her husband, Anders. Before treatment, Cecilia asks Anders if he truly wants the child; Anders replies it is too late to have the discussion. Cecilia undergoes treatment; when she awakes, she realizes she has had a miscarriage. She tearfully tells hospital staff she had wanted the child but Anders did not, and that she knew the child would not be born with only one loving parent. Anders returns to the hospital, and Cecilia initiates a separation, saying she realized Anders did not truly love her as they arrived at the hospital.

While suffering from illness, Cecilia is comforted by Stina, who is overdue in her pregnancy and is very excited to have her child. Stina and Cecilia share their ward with Hjördis, who was admitted after she began bleeding during pregnancy. Hjördis is not married or engaged to the father of her fetus, does not want the child, and does not feel she can tell her unsupportive mother. Hjördis becomes annoyed when hospital staff try to persuade her to bear it. They tell her unmarried young mothers in Sweden no longer face the social stigma they once did, and Hjördis can find a house and daycare. Hjördis tells the head Nurse Brita babies disgust her.

Stina is given castor oil and a cup of beer to speed delivery and is visited by her husband, Harry. Stina is convinced she will have a boy and intends to name him after Harry. While alone, Hjördis sits at Cecilia's bed and smokes a cigarette; Hjördis says she might feel differently about the pregnancy if she was in a loving relationship. Stina's contractions during labour become increasingly violent and excruciating; she is sedated and suffers a miscarriage. Dr. Nordlander tells her she and the fetus were healthy, but the pregnancy was not "meant to be". Upon hearing of Stina's loss, Hjördis tells Cecilia it feels as if life itself has died. Hjördis calls her mother, who tells her to come home. Nurse Brita lends Hjördis the money for a ticket after Hjördis is discharged from the hospital.



Brink of Life received generally mixed reviews from critics.[3]


When Brink of Life was first released in Italy in 1960 the Committee for the Theatrical Review of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities rated it as VM16: not suitable for children under 16. In order for the film to be screened publicly, the Committee imposed the removal of the scene in which Stina is in pain due to labour. The reason for the age restriction and removal of the scene cited in the official documents, is that the film was not suitable to the sexual morals of a minor in the Italian society, and the scene was considered to be shocking.[4] The official document number is: 31260, it was signed on 20 April 1960 by Minister Domenico Magrì.[5]


  1. ^ "10 great films set in one location". BFI. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Brink of Life". Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  3. ^ "'Brink of Life' (1958) on RT". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ Italia Taglia Database of the documents produced by the Committee for the Theatrical Review of The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, from 1944 to 2000.
  5. ^ Italia Taglia Database of the documents produced by the Committee for the Theatrical Review of The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, from 1944 to 2000.

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