Ingmar’s Actors

Eva Dahlbeck, a “Battleship of Femininity”

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Nov 19, 2018


Eva Dahlbeck, who made six memorable films with Ingmar Bergman, was one of the most nimble performers to pass through the director’s troupe of regular actors. It was in 1952, while Bergman was still in the first decade of his directorial career, that Dahlbeck made her indelible entrance into his body of work with the film Waiting Women, as a wife trapped with her husband in a stalled elevator, where they wind up having a more intimate exchange than they’ve had in years. In the above video piece, created for the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Bergman biographer Peter Cowie describes how the filmmaker immediately saw in Dahlbeck “a woman who kowtowed to no man,” even coming to dub the performer “the battleship of femininity” for her imperious air. Over the course of a collaboration that lasted more than a decade, and included such films as the sparkling period sex comedy Smiles of a Summer Night and the more reflective chamber drama Brink of Life, Dahlbeck would, according to Cowie, invigorate Bergman’s work with her “robust and civilized personality.”