10 December 2021

Ingmar Bergman's Port of Call | Hamnstad (1948)

This early Bergman is a condemnation of hypocritical bourgeois values, a criticism of a society tied up in knots with its ideas of good and bad, moral and amoral, etc. It is something of a minor master work for so early an example of the giant of cinema Bergman would become.

Berit (Nine-Christine Jönsson), meaning to drown herself, throws herself in the cold water but is rescued. Later, Gösta (Bengt Eklund) sees her at a dancehall and they spend the night together, Berit's father being away at sea – a job from which Gösta has just returned and doesn't want to go back to – and her mother away for the night. Berit works in a factory and Gösta now works at the docks. Gösta has left when Berit's mother (Berta Hall) has returned, although she notes that there are cigarette butts in the ashtray and Berit doesn't smoke. When Berit leaves for work, her mother calls Mrs Vilander (Birgitta Valberg), her daughter's probation officer: there is a chance that Berit will have to return to reformatory school.

Initially via the pregnant Gertrud (Mimi Nelson) in desperate need of an abortion, we later learn what Berit feels she must tell Gösta about her past: several years before, the girl went to live with a man, was discovered, and sent to reformatory, where she met Gertrud. She has had a number of sexual liaisons, which Gösta hypocritically (all part of the double standard, of course) finds difficult to stomach. After a botched backstreet abortion Gertrud has to be sent to hospital and dies: Gösta finds this intolerable, although in the end he gets together with Berit and they decide that instead of escaping they will learn to take the flak and continue in Stockholm.

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