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* with MÖTE MED MAI (1996, Solveig Nordlund, Jannike Åhlund) Approx. 10 min. 

Sweden, 1964
Directed by Zetterling
Screenplay by Zetterling and David Hughes
Adapted from the novel Fröknarna von Pahlen by Agnes von Krusenstjerna
Cinematography by Sven Nykvist
Starring Harriet Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Gio Petré, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jan Malmsjö, Anita Björk, Eva Dahlbeck
New DCP restoration courtesy Swedish Film Institute and Janus Films.
Approx. 118 min.

In a Swedish maternity hospital in 1914, three women prepare to give birth, their stories told through flashbacks. Gio Petré’s level-headed aristocrat Angela is seduced by her aunt’s former lover, Harriet Andersson’s “cheerfully promiscuous” maid/model Adga’s ambitious nobleman lover has secured her a gay husband, and Gunnel Lindblom’s Adele is the embitered wife of a tenant farmer, whose child is stillborn. Abridged by the director and then-husband David Hughes from Fröknarna von Pahlen, the seven-volume novel by pioneer Swedish feminist writer Agnes von Krusenstjerna (subject of Mai’s 1986 biopic AMOROSA), and shot by frequent Bergman collaborator Sven Nyqvist, Zetterling’s feature debut caused a furor for its frank sexuality, lesbian relationships, and graphic scenes of childbirth.


“One of the most ambitious debuts since CITIZEN KANE”
– Kenneth Tynan

“LOVING COUPLES has several startlingly explicit scenes—a panorama of aberrations; an on-screen birth; and, for those bored with sex by human beings, sex by a pair of terriers. Miss Zetterling feels she has limited the sex to what supports the story.”
– Joanne Stang

“In LOVING COUPLES, World War I looms beyond the horizon (Sweden did not participate in either of the world wars), and in the dialogue, marriage is explicitly connected to warfare. War and marriage teach people to hate each other, says Isa Landborg (Eva Dahlbeck) at one point in the film and when Dora Macson’s husband (Toivo Pawlo) talks about the sound of machine-gun fire, she reflects that it sounds just like home.
– Mariah Larsson, A Cinema of Obsession: The Life and Work of Mai Zetterling

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