Secrets of Women (film)

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Secrets of Women
Kvinnors vantan poster.jpg
Directed byIngmar Bergman
Produced byAllan Ekelund
Written byIngmar Bergman
Gun Grut (story)
StarringAnita Björk
Eva Dahlbeck
Maj-Britt Nilsson
Birger Malmsten
Gunnar Björnstrand
Karl-Arne Holmsten
Jarl Kulle
Aino Taube
Håkan Westergren
CinematographyGunnar Fischer
Edited byOscar Rosander
Distributed byAB Svensk Filmindustri (SF)
Release date
  • 3 November 1952 (1952-11-03)
Running time
103 minutes

Secrets of Women (Swedish: Kvinnors väntan; also known as Waiting Women) is a 1952 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman. It was screened within the official selection of Venice Film Festival (1953). It is a drama about young relationships told in flashbacks by a group of women.

Since its release, Secrets of Women, while not regarded as one of Bergman's strongest efforts, has nonetheless received positive reviews from film critics.


While waiting at a table for the arrival of their husbands who happen to be the Lobelius brothers, three women, Rakel, Karin and Marta, begin talking and share secrets. Rakel tells of her marriage with Eugen, and her simultaneous affair with Kaj. One day, Kaj and Eugen returned home from a shooting excursion. Rakel, professing to be disgusted by Kaj, revealed they have cheated on Eugen. Rakel told Eugen she was not looking for his forgiveness; Eugen said he intended to expel Rakel from the house, with her possessions and an allowance. Rakel replied she is not Eugen's property. Eugen stormed out with a rifle, and Rakel chased after him, fearing he would commit suicide. When Eugen threatened to kill himself, Rakel asked an elderly neighbour to talk sense into him. Rakel tells the women at the table she has come to think of Eugen as her child and is resolved to take care of him.

Encouraged by Rakel's candidness, Marta tells of her own story, her affair with Eugen's brother Martin, a painter. Marta learned she is pregnant, and after an appointment with a gynecologist, returned home to tell Martin. There, Martin was being visited by his brothers Fredrik the head of the family firm - to inform him of their father's death. Fredrik said he was disturbed by the fact that Martin would not attend their father's funeral, and said Martin would not be given a job at the firm. When the family left, Marta tried to tell Martin of her pregnancy, but he was in no mood of hearing news from her. On a date that night, he discussed his intentions that they part ways. They separated without Marta informing him of their expected child, and she gave birth without him. Back at the table, Marta's sister Maj professes to like the story, but dislikes the fact that Marta and Martin reconciled, which Marta attributes to their love for each other.

Karin says her story is not so much a story as a comedic episode: She accompanied her husband Fredrik to receive the crown prince at an event, and did not warn Fredrik that he had shaving cream in his ear the entire time. After leaving the event, the couple entered an elevator, which malfunctioned and became stuck, trapping Fredrik and Karin inside. After the commotion, Karin was amused to see Fredrik's crushed top hat. While waiting, Fredrik asked Karin if she has ever been unfaithful, and Karin casually and quickly replied yes. She then accused him of having an affair with a woman named Diana, and said her own confession was a lie. Fredrik said he ended the affair with Diana quickly, claiming Diana was a madwoman.

After the women have told their stories, Marta learns Maj is planning to run away with her lover, Henrik, oldest brother Paul and his wife Annette's son who is supposed to arrive with his father and uncles, but who secretly arrived earlier. Marta tries to convince Maj not to leave, but Maj replies she is not a child. The men arrive as Henrik and Maj take off on a boat. Paul tells Marta to let them go, as they will return anyway, and should have a summer to enjoy themselves with something they think is forbidden.


Release and reception[edit]

In 2018, The Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray in Region A, along with 38 other Bergman films, in the set Ingmar Bergman's Cinema.[1]

Secrets of Women holds a 100% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on six critics.[2]


  1. ^ Chitwood, Adam (12 July 2018). "Criterion Announces Massive 39-Film Ingmar Bergman Blu-ray Collection". Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  2. ^ "'Secrets of Women' on RT". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links[edit]