In the early 1900s, three pregnant women arrive at a birthing clinic, all three finding themselves in undesirable circumstances. One is in a loveless marriage; one is being forced by her child’s father to marry his friend, a gay man, if she is to receive any support from him; and the third cannot get her lover to admit paternity. ‘Thirty seconds of passion can lead to thirty years of hell. One should be wary of women,’ even jokes the women’s doctor on the dangers of women who entrap men by getting pregnant.
This debut feature film of the legendary director and actress Mai Zetterling (1925–1994) is based upon “The Misses von Pahlen” (Fröknarna von Pahlen, 1930–35) by Agnes von Krusenstjerna, a series of novels that in Sweden were once likened to the works of Proust – in addition to having aroused heated debate on sexual freedom, freedom of speech, moral standards, and women’s rights. The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it caused a bit of a scandal because some of its scenes were considered too sexually explicit for the time.
Foreword by the programme curator: Mai Zetterling talks about the things we don’t say out loud. If Bergman were a woman, would his films be like this?