Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Summer with Monika




Based on the book by Per Anders Fogelstrom, Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika) is the story about two runaway teenagers who flee their working-class environments in Stockholm to spend the summer at a beach in hopes to escape from their reality. Written for the screen and directed by Ingmar Bergman, the film is an exploration into young love as well as the realities that is set upon by these two people. Starring Harriet Andersson and Lars Ekborg. Sommaren med Monika is a ravishing film from Ingmar Bergman.

The film is about two working-class teenagers from Stockholm who meet and fall in love as they become tired of the lives they live in. There, the two escape the city when the boy Harry (Lars Ekborg) takes his father’s boat as he and Monika (Harriet Andersson) go to the Stockholm archipelago for a summer that is idyllic and without rules. When the summer winds down, reality starts to come in as well as the different personalities of Harry and Monika once they return home with something that would change their lives. It’s a film that is about young love and the idea where there are no rules but it would later turn out that isn’t the case. Even as Harry becomes aware of what is happening where he starts to accept what is to happen though Monika is someone who is younger than Harry and wants to have fun. The conflict would eventually emerge in the third act once they return home and have to deal with the aspects of the real world where one of them makes a drastic decision.

Ingmar Bergman’s direction is very engaging for the way he explores young love as much of the first act is set in Stockholm where it’s very intimate in the setting. Even as there’s moments where it feels claustrophobic considering the constraints that both Harry and Monika live in as Harry has an ailing father while Monika is from a dysfunctional family. Their attraction to each other and desire to escape would allow Bergman to create ideas of how oppressive city life can be when the film’s tone changes a bit in the Stockholm archipelago as it feels loose and entrancing. Bergman would create not just some gorgeous compositions to play out this sense of freedom but also allow the film to do some things that are daring that includes a moment where Monika skinny dips as he isn’t afraid to show some nudity which was quite daring during the early 1950s.

The film’s tone would change in the second act where Bergman creates some suspense such as a sequence of Harry and Monika stealing food from a nearby country home where the moment would create some tension between the two. Particularly where they have to deal with the realities of low food and such that forces them to return to Stockholm as they also have to deal with something that changes them completely. A lot of the third act features some close-ups that play into not just where these characters are going but also some truths about them as there’s elements of melodrama that would occur. Overall, Bergman creates a very captivating film about young lovers who escape the real world only to return and deal with life as young adults.

Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white cinematography from the beauty of the archipelagos in the day and a few scenes at night to some of the more gorgeous lighting schemes for the city scenes at night. Editors Tage Holmberg and Gosta Lewin do amazing work with the editing as it‘s stylized with some fade-outs and dissolves to play up the sense of longing as well a few montages to showcase the scenes of the boat sailing through the city of Stockholm. Production designers P.A. Lundgren and Nils Svenwall do superb work with the set pieces from the work places that Harry and Monika worked at to the country home that Harry and Monika encounter.

The sound work of Sven Hansen is terrific for the atmosphere it creates in many of the scenes set in the beaches and forests along with some sound effects for some of the active moments such as a few fights that Harry is involved in. The film’s music by Erik Nordgren, with orchestration by Eskil Eckert-Haden, is wonderful as it features a mix of serene orchestral scores as well as brooding pieces while the soundtrack also features as a waltz theme by Filip Olsson and some jazz cuts from that period.

The film’s cast is brilliant as it features some notable small roles from Ake Fredell and Naemi Briese as Monika’s parents, Dagmar Ebbsen as Harry’s aunt, Ake Gronberg as a co-worker of Harry’s late in the film, John Harryson as a co-worker of Monika whom Harry dislikes, and Sigge Furst as Harry’s boss from the porcelain shop early in the film. Lars Ekborg is fantastic as Harry as a young man frustrated with his job as he falls for Monika as he later tries to deal with the reality of their situation as he becomes the one person who matures and tries to do what is right. Finally, there’s Harriet Andersson in a radiant performance as Monika as a 17-year old girl whose love for the nightlife and going to movies has her wanting to escape the world of her family as she is very adventurous while using her sex appeal to get what she wants. It’s definitely a performance that is really intoxicating to watch as she brings a lot of personality to an immature young woman who is still yearning to live out her youth to the fullest as Andersson is a major highlight of the film.

Sommaren med Monika is a sensational film from Ingmar Bergman that features a smoldering yet seductive performance from Harriet Andersson. The film is definitely one of Bergman’s great early triumphs as well as a very daring film during the early 1950s where it wasn’t afraid to entice and excite through sex. In the end, Sommaren med Monika is an extraordinary film from Ingmar Bergman.

Ingmar Bergman Films: (Crisis) - (It Rains on Our Love) - (A Ship to India) - (Music of Darkness) - (Port of Call) - (Prison) - (Thirst (1949 film)) - (To Joy) - (This Can’t Happen Here) - (Summer Interlude) - (Secrets of Women) - Sawdust and Tinsel - A Lesson in Love - Dreams (1955 film) - Smiles of a Summer Night - The Seventh Seal - (Mr. Sleeman is Coming) - Wild Strawberries - (The Venetian) - (Brink of Life) - (Rabies) - The Magician - The Virgin Spring - The Devil’s Eye - Through a Glass Darkly - Winter Light - The Silence - All These Women - Persona - (Simulantia-Daniel) - (Hour of the Wolf) - (Shame (1968 film)) - (The Rite) - (The Passion of Anna) - (The Touch) - Cries & Whispers - Scenes from a Marriage - (The Magic Flute) - (Face to Face) - (The Serpent’s Egg) - Autumn Sonata - From the Life of the Marionettes - Fanny & Alexander - (After the Rehearsal) - (Karin’s Face) - (The Blessed Ones) - (In the Presence of a Clown) - (The Image Makers) - Saraband

© thevoid99 2013

4 comments:

Ruth said...

I'm so ashamed I haven't seen any film by Igmar Bergman! This one sounds intriguing, I quite like the premise of young'uns falling in love 'on location.' It's quite relatable as I was drawn to someone in an English class once who I know would probably isn't going to work out. Sometimes the circumstances we're in makes us like/love something/someone we otherwise wouldn't, especially true when we're young and much more carefree!

Beautiful review Steven, I reddited :D http://www.reddit.com/r/moviecritic/comments/1mo61c/summer_with_monika_1953_one_of_ingmar_bergmans/

thevoid99 said...

This is one of early triumphs though I think The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries are the best places to start when it comes to Bergman.

Alex Withrow said...

God, I just love this movie. Andersson is so sexy she's on fire. A remarkable film.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex Withrow-Harriet Andersson was fucking sexy in that film. I knew I had to post that picture for the review. Hey, sex sells. Plus, it was definitely a turn on to watch those nude scenes. Thank you Bergman for showing nudity in the 1950s.