14 user 15 critic

The Best Intentions (1992)

Den goda viljan (original title)
Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, Romance | 10 July 1992 (USA)
2:19 | Trailer

Watch Now

With Prime Video

The story of Ingmar Bergman's parents. In 1909, poor, idealistic theology student Henrik Bergman falls in love with Anna Åkerbloom, the intelligent, educated daughter of a rich family in ... See full summary »


Bille August


Ingmar Bergman
4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of Ingmar Bergman's parents. How they fell in love, married against the wishes of their families, and had a difficult marriage and life in rural Sweden. Bergman's father was a ... See full summary »

Stars: Samuel Fröler, Pernilla August, Ghita Nørby
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The end of the 19th century. A boat filled with Swedish emigrants comes to the Danish island of Bornholm. Among them are Lasse and his son Pelle who move to Denmark to find work. They find ... See full summary »

Director: Bille August
Stars: Pelle Hvenegaard, Max von Sydow, Erik Paaske
Private Confessions (TV Movie 1996)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Five conversations frame a flawed marriage in this film written by Ingmar Bergman about his parents. Guilt-ridden wife Anna (Pernilla August) divulges an extramarital affair to a priest, ... See full summary »

Director: Liv Ullmann
Stars: Pernilla August, Max von Sydow, Samuel Fröler
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The film switches back and forth between the adventures of Pu on a summer holiday in Norrland in Sweden and and the adult Pu visiting his father who lives in an old people's home. Little Pu... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Bergman
Stars: Henrik Linnros, Thommy Berggren, Lena Endre
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Swedish composer/conductor Martin and concertmaster Barbara fall in love. After their divorces, they're happily married. While composing an opera, Martin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It slowly changes him.

Director: Bille August
Stars: Sven Wollter, Viveka Seldahl, Reine Brynolfsson
The Eel (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A businessman kills his adulterous wife and is sent to prison. After the release, he opens a barbershop and meets new people, talking almost to no one except an eel he befriended while in prison.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baishô
Faithless (2000)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An imaginary woman recollects the painful experience of adultery to a storyteller.

Director: Liv Ullmann
Stars: Lena Endre, Erland Josephson, Krister Henriksson
Saraband (TV Movie 2003)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Marianne, some thirty years after divorcing Johan, decides to visit her ex-husband at his summer home. She arrives in the middle of a family drama between Johan's son from another marriage and his granddaughter.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Börje Ahlstedt
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Enrico Mattei helped change Italy's future, first as freedom-fighter against the Nazis, then as an investor in methane gas through a public company, A.G.I.P., and ultimately as the head of ... See full summary »

Director: Francesco Rosi
Stars: Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Squarzina, Peter Baldwin
After the Rehearsal (TV Movie 1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Rational, exacting, and self-controlled theater director, Henrik Vogler, often stays after rehearsal to think and plan. On this day, Anna comes back, ostensibly looking for a bracelet. She ... See full summary »

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin, Lena Olin
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story concerns the romance between Carmela and Antonio. The ardor is one-sided at first, but Carmela is a determined young woman, willing to scale and conquer any obstacle in pursuing ... See full summary »

Director: Renato Castellani
Stars: Maria Fiore, Vincenzo Musolino, Filomena Russo
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A priest stuck in a rural congregation and burdened with his overwrought spirituality, finds purpose in a troubled woman accused of murder.

Director: Maurice Pialat
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Sandrine Bonnaire, Maurice Pialat


Cast overview, first billed only:
Samuel Fröler ... Henrik Bergman
Pernilla August ... Anna Bergman
Max von Sydow ... Johan Åkerblom
Ghita Nørby Ghita Nørby ... Karin Åkerblom
Lennart Hjulström ... Disponent Nordenson
Mona Malm ... Alma Bergman
Lena Endre ... Frida Strandberg
Keve Hjelm ... Fredrik Bergman
Björn Kjellman ... Ernst Åkerblom
Börje Ahlstedt ... Carl Åkerblom
Hans Alfredson ... Kyrkoherde Gransjö
Lena T. Hansson ... Magda Säll
Anita Björk ... Drottning Victoria
Elias Ringquist Elias Ringquist ... Petrus Farg
Ernst Günther ... Freddy Paulin


The story of Ingmar Bergman's parents. In 1909, poor, idealistic theology student Henrik Bergman falls in love with Anna Åkerbloom, the intelligent, educated 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. Written by Robert Stroetgen <stroetgen@rrz.uni-hamburg.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Ett filmepos av Bille August efter Ingmar Bergmans egna ord See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 July 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Best Intentions See more »

Filming Locations:

Agrigento, Sicily, Italy See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,186, 12 July 1992

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One document Ingmar Bergman had was his mother's diary, though it was not a source for many events in the film. He attempted to capture his parents' characters based on his documents and his conversations with them in later years. See more »


[last lines]
Henrik Bergman: So, you don't want us to go on?
Anna Bergman: You know I do. I want nothing else. That is all I want.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original mini-series was released on Swedish television 25 December 1991. Since this preceded the theatrical release, it was not eligible for an Oscar nomination. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

not just a revealing look at the psychologies of Bergman's parents, but a melodrama-free story of cold romance
23 December 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

It's always kind of staggering to think of other films that deal with love and marriage and the twisted ties that bind when compared to what Ingmar Bergman does in his scripts. Stripped away from the problems that come with such dangerous clichés like the old mother forbidding her daughter from being together with a man she just does not like, or with the marriage being strained by outside influences. Maybe the latter isn't much of a cliché as it might be a convention, but it's all dealt with by Bergman in his story of Henrik Bergman and Anna Bergman with complete, un-filtered honesty, even in the harsher moments. While it's not actually one of his very best scripts, with a couple of flaws here and there and it not being quite long enough (i.e. Scenes From a Marriage and Fanny & Alexander being five hours each), it has more emotionally shattering moments, and even under-stated ones, that would make most other dramas about a relationship in trouble meek in comparison.

That being said, it's also not technically a Bergman film, but directed through Billie August with maybe a slightly differed sensibility. Yet it's not by that much, aside from specific choices in the music (I don't think Bergman would have used the musical accompaniment, not that it's bad but it tells of what is usually different and less frequent for the material), and because of the nature of the material and the characters, it's not surprising if the Best Intentions feels more like a Bergman film than August. The rhythm of the acting, too, feels like it still is out of those vintage masterpieces of the 60s and 70s. Here we're given the story of how Henrik (Samuel Froler) and Anna (Pernilla August) came to be husband and wife. It's basically in two halves- the first dealing with Karin Akerblom (Ghita Nørby), Anna's mother, and her dire attempts to keep the two away from one another. And at first Anna agrees, but soon the attachment to one another can't be broken, even through an early affair Henrik has with a waitress and Anna's tuberculosis scare.

Many specific scenes, like a very harsh (though always under the surface) scene between Karin and Henrik, when she tells him point blank to leave and never come back to see Anna, or when Anna is told after the death of her father Johan (Max Von Sydow, always great to see him even in limited time) about how she destroyed a letter she found that she meant to sent to Henrik. So much of this is so powerful for how all of the dialog, all of the little notes and emotion in the action penetrate to the core elements of the drama. Sometimes I felt like I was seeing even deeper truths being reached about parents and children (not only Anna with her mother but Henrik with his family- both have tarnished relationships, but however much forgiveness is left off or ties severed shows also how the children become as they are), and a take on the free will vs. determinism of such a decision. So all of this is always fascinating, seeing this 'version' of Bergman's parents and their struggles to be together- Henrik the sort of cold yet compassionate loner parish/priest, and Anna the very warm and heartfelt soon-to-be-mother- as they both have head-strong tendencies.

I can't say how much of what unfolds in the 2nd act holds up as being totally true to what Bergman's parents lives were, but then who could? It's all made for dramatic sake, anyway, but what ends up sticking most is the friction in their marriage early on, when they move away to a small, working-class village where Henrik wants to work as the village pastor. It's in this section that the flaws arise, but not big ones, only enough to keep it odd yet intriguing. Like the character of Petrus, who is a weird little trouble-maker who is too sickly and frustrated to live with his parents, so Henrik and Anna take him in, which turns out disastrously. But there needs to be either more context with this character (and, indeed, a version of this film- a mini-series for Swedish TV- is double the length), or nothing at all, as everything that needs to be said about the strife in the two of them is actually there in the sub-plot with the angered villager Nordenson. And with the ending, it's satisfying, in a catharsis way though it's not as great, or even perfect, an ending it could have been had a certain decision been made on Henrik's part when he sees Anna outside.

I won't mention what, but it doesn't matter at any rate. What makes The Best Intentions a gem in the Bergman cannon is his trust in the audience to take these 'characters' as full-on human beings, who have the utmost trouble with one thing, compromise and the real meaning of love for one another- connection, which is what Bergman goes for in most of his films. And helping this greatly are the main actors, who elevate an argument mid-way through (regarding the location of the wedding) to the powerful terrain it's reaching for. August fits the requirements of her character just as Froler does, even if Froler ends up being slightly more constricted due to the nature of his own self-restrictive and hard-pressed priest. In the end, The Best Intentions makes wonderful use of autobiography for the stuff of an often gut-wrenching romantic drama where the personal goes into the theatrical, and the direction and acting brings out the best in Bergman's voice in his golden-age.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein: Happy to Win Together

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" stars Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein discuss their wins, their characters' similarities, and what's changed in the 13 years since Tony last won an Emmy.

Watch now

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed