8.3/10
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61 user 61 critic

Autumn Sonata (1978)

Höstsonaten (original title)
PG | | Drama, Music | 18 October 1978 (USA)
A married daughter who longs for her mother's love gets visited by the latter, a successful concert pianist.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Eva
Lena Nyman ...
Helena
Halvar Björk ...
Viktor
Marianne Aminoff ...
Charlotte's private secretary
Arne Bang-Hansen ...
Uncle Otto
...
Paul
...
Josef
Georg Løkkeberg ...
Leonardo
Mimi Pollak ...
Piano instructor
Linn Ullmann ...
Eva as a child
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Storyline

After having neglected her children for many years, world famous pianist Charlotte visits her daughter Eva in her home. To her surprise she finds her other daughter, Helena, there as well. Helena is mentally disabled, and Eva has taken Helena out of the institution where their mother had placed her. The tension between Charlotte and Eva only builds up slowly, until a nightly conversation releases all the things they have wanted to tell each other. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

18 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Autumn Sonata  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot in Norway, during Ingmar Bergman's exile from Sweden due to an accusation of tax evasion. See more »

Goofs

In the dialogue scene where Charlotte is lying on the floor and Eva is sitting on the sofa behind her, the shadow of the boom mic is visible on the curtains when the camera pans to Eva for a few seconds. See more »

Quotes

Viktor: [reading] One must learn to live. I practice every day. My biggest obstacle is I don't know who I am. I grope blindly. If anyone loves me as I am I may dare at last to look at myself. For me, that possibility is fairly remote.
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Connections

Featured in Liv Ullmann scener fra et liv (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Préludium Nr 2a, a-moll
Written by Frédéric Chopin (as Chopin)
Performed by Käbi Laretei
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User Reviews

 
"A mother and a daughter... can you imagine a more terrible combination?"
20 July 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA USA) – See all my reviews

Ingrid Bergman as Charlotte, is a concert pianist visiting her daughter Eva, played by Liv Ullmann. They have not seen each other for 7 years. Charlotte's other daughter, Helena, is also living with Eva. Helena has a crippling disease, and at one time was living in some type of institution.

At first, everything is fine, as mother and daughter do their best to make each other as comfortable as possible. When left alone, they wonder about each other's expectations, but continue on.

Charlotte is a very talented, but completely self-absorbed woman. Eva is a frump. A sweet frump, but a frump nonetheless. At first, there are a few catty remarks exchanged, but the turning point is when Eva offers to play the piano for her mother. She works as hard as she can, but the music sounds contrived and unmusical. When she asks her mother to play the piece for her, Charlotte does the one thing that signaled to me that "the war was on". She laid down the music rack on the piano. (When pianists have a piece memorized, they do that to show the audience that they have no need for the printed music.) Charlotte, of course, plays beautifully (she could play no other way). However, the damage is done. Mother is successful, and daughter is a failure. Although the scene is dramatically pivotal, it did produce one of the few really funny lines in the movie. After Charlotte finishes playing, she says, "Well, I HAVE been playing these Chopin pieces for 37 years."

Charlotte's self-absorption is pretty amazing when you realize that her ill daughter was in an institution, then moved to Eva's house, and she had no idea that it happened. There are some other clues in the early part of the story that indicate she probably wished that her daughter Helena would have died long ago. Charlotte can be totally charming to her public, her agents, her fans... but has very little to offer her own children.

Eva is so desperate for love and affection from her mother that she seemingly misses the fact that her husband loves her very much. When Charlotte is awakened by a nightmare, she and Eva begin a late-night talk. And that is when the real nightmare begins.

At times this film is painful to watch, and at times is emotionally draining. Sven Nykvyst's cinematography is stunning. I thought this especially so in the flashback sequences, and in the scene close to the end of the film when Eva is in the cemetery.

Although not as perfect as The Seventh Seal, or Wild Strawberries, Autumn Sonata still has much to say, whether we feel comfortable listening to it or not.


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