Thursday, 1 March 2012

Summer With Monika [1953]

Summer with Monika, one of the lightest and most accessible films belonging to Ingmar Bergman’s vaunted oeuvre, was possibly the first film that got the Swedish master international attention (albeit for the wrong reasons). The film was sensationalized as a frank and (for its time) promiscuous depiction of premarital affair between two teenagers, but in essence this was a simple, unobtrusive and beautifully constructed tale of love and separation of two young adults trying to gain footholds on the world. The two protagonists in question were – Harry (Lars Ekborg), a decent, lonely and naïve working-class guy, and the titular Monika (Harriet Andersson), a sultry, shallow, fickle-natured and hedonistic girl who too belongs to the blue-colored background. The two have an unspectacular first meet and soon enough they are dating each other. Purportedly unhappy with her family, Monika persuades Harry to quit his job and run off with her – the idyllic summer that they spend hopping from one isolated spot to another on Harry’s motorboat occupied the major screentime for the film. However, unlike what most romantic films would have us believe, life rarely follows the “happily ever after” adage, and so is the case for them. Upon realizing that Monika is expecting a child the two marry, but their marriage collapses irrevocably soon after – while Harry strives for long-term security for the family, all Monika is interested in is living in the moment and taking on other lovers if the need be. This bittersweet love story, which lovingly juxtaposed dreams with reality, comprised of a lovely but sparsely used organ-based score.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genre: Drama/Romance
Language: Swedish
Country: Sweden


Sam Juliano said...

This is an unforgettable early Bergman feature that will soon be released on Criterion blu-ray. It's one of the most deft studies of dreams vs. reality, and as always the acting and cinematography are exquisite. It remains one of my favorites from this period.

Great work here!

Shubhajit said...

Absolutely. This often tends to get relegated to secondary status while discussing Bergman's oeuvre, but there's no denying its beauty - both for of the way its subject matter was dealt, and aspects like acting, photography, etc.