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Summer with Monika (Criterion)

Director(s): Ingmar Bergman

Theatrical Release: 1953

Cast: Harriet Andersson, Lars Ekborg, John Harryson, Georg Skarstedt, Ake Fridell, Renee Bjorling

Genre(s): Drama, psychological, romance, Criterion Collection

Countries: Sweden

Location in store:

(0 / 0)
Ant Rating
Running Time: 97m.

An innocent youth finds love and, eventually, heartbreak in this film, which ranks among Ingmar Bergman's simplest and most unaffected. Harry (Lars Ekborg), the unworldly, unhappy hero, suffers at his job and in his personal life. Then he falls in love with the superficial Monika (Harriet Andersson), who shows little capacity for sensitivity but radiates carnality. Defying the repressive, degrading ways of adult society, the couple flees from the city, their responsibilities, and their problems by stealing a boat and retreating to an island, where they live free of inhibitions or social restrictions. But when the glorious summer comes to an end, the young couple is compelled to return to the city, where their relationship soon disintegrates. Monika gives birth to their child but shows little parental inclination, preferring to sleep late and lounge about. Harry, meanwhile, tries to provide support. Bored, Monika eventually finds another lover, whereupon Harry moves his child from their filthy apartment and determines to make a better life. With its agreeable lead actress and its unadorned style, Sommaren med Monika constitutes one of Bergman's most immediate and accessible films. Harriet Andersson, who became a Bergman regular, shows an unabashed sexuality that would serve her well in subsequent films, and she reveals a canny ability to maintain audience interest, if not sympathy, for a character that is ultimately unappealing, even repellant. Bergman allows Andersson's performance to dominate the film. He generally abstains from emphatic lighting or provocative angles, preferring to accommodate his actress with rich close-ups and sunlit portraits. Andersson's compelling performance, together with the film's idyllic island setting and Bergman's unfailing direction, renders Sommaren med Monika an impressive, noteworthy work. (


Criterion Collection DVD #614 Special Features:

! Introduction by director Ingmar Bergman

! Interview with actress Harriet Anderson, conducted by film scholar Peter Cowie

! Interview with film scholar Eric Schaefer about Kroger Babb and his distribution of Monika, the story of a bad girl as an exploitation film

! Images from the Playground - a 1/2 documentary by Stig Björkman featuring behind-the-scenes footage shot by Bergman, archival audio interviews with Bermgna, and new interviews with actresses Bibi Anderson and Harriet Anderson

! Trailer

Member Reviews

Easily my favorite Bergman (well, of the two I've seen. . . . ) by C20004656 - September 10, 2012
The New Yorker's Richard Brody describes "Summer with Monika" as being about "a warm-blooded woman who has too much life and sexual energy for her stick-in-the-mud man." Which is not quite accurate, but then, Richard Brody also has a borderline-creepy obsession with Lena Dunham's "Girls" and may not be able to think clearly when very young women are on the screen. Harriet Andersson wonderfully plays Monika as a shallow, selfish, unlikable girl whom the audience would like to strike in the face with an oar, and Lars Ekborg's endearing Harry could do so much better -- however, aside from the feeling of impending misery throughout, it's a gorgeous, frank, sexy film that makes you want to go to Sweden, and you've never wanted to go to Sweden. The usual great Criterion extras as well, including an interview with Andersson, down to earth and, cheeringly, unravaged by time.