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The Best Intentions(Den goda viljan)

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Sweden, Denmark, Finland · 1992
3h 2m
Director Bille August
Starring Samuel Fröler, Pernilla August, Max von Sydow, Ghita Nørby
Genre Drama, Romance

The story of Ingmar Bergman's parents. In 1909, poor theology student Henrik Bergman falls in love with Anna Åkerbloom, the daughter of a rich family in Uppsala. After their wedding Henrik becomes a priest in the north of Sweden. After a few years Anna can't stand living in the rural county with the uncouth people. She returns to Uppsala, Henrik stays in the north.

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What are critics saying?


Time Out by

The film boasts impeccable performances (von Sydow is splendid as Anna's father). But with a running time of three hours, this weighty drama tests the most patient soul.


Christian Science Monitor by David Sterritt

It's all very pretty, but its use of motion-picture possibilities is unimaginative. What lifts The Best Intentions above its visual limitations, and makes it seem impressive, is the extraordinary depth and sincerity of Bergman's screenplay.


Variety by Derek Elley

An epic story of mismatched love shaped in the most intimate terms, the Ingmar Bergman-scripted The Best Intentions packs a sustained emotional wallop that lightens its three-hour span.


The New York Times by Janet Maslin

For a time, The Best Intentions captures the elements of a profoundly difficult and credible love story, one plagued by essential differences that cannot be resolved.


Austin Chronicle by Marc Savlov

For those looking to be stylishly entertained while learning more than anyone might ever want to know about the formation of the Bergman psyche, well, here it is.


Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

August keeps a discreet distance from the harsher realities, making The Best Intentions must viewing only if you find diluted Bergman better than no Bergman at all.


Washington Post by Rita Kempley

Never mind that Best Intentions, which was filmed both as a six-part TV miniseries and a three-hour movie, is occasionally uneven and sometimes confusing. It remains a rare August pleasure, a film for grown-up audiences that challenges and enriches.