Videodrone Classics: The 'Summer's of Ingmar Bergman
'Summer Interlude' and 'Summer With Monika' Debut on Blu-ray and DVD
"Summer Interlude" (Criterion) and "Summer With Monika" (Criterion), the tenth and twelfth films (respectively) directed by Ingmar Bergman, make a fine match set showing off the two sides of Bergman developing in his early years as a filmmaker.
"Summer Interlude" (1951), the story of a summer romance between a sunny, confident young ballet student (Maj-Britt Nilsson) and a shy scholar (Birger Malmsten) on the lush vacation islands of the Stockholm archipelago, is a memory film. The older ballerina, now emotionally cocooned in regret and loss, is sent back to those free and easy days when she receives a handwritten diary, and she revisits the island, now a cold, foggy corpse of its summer lushness, to come to terms with her past.
Lovingly shot by Gunnar Fischer, Bergman's first great cinematographer collaborator, the film is steeped in metaphor: a philosophical rumination on love and loss staged as a story, with characters more like archetypes in a theatre piece. Summer is the charge of youth in the idealism of eternal vacation and the innocence of young love in all its dimensions.
"Summer with Monika" (1953), starring Bergman's first acknowledged muse Harriet Andersson as the impulsive, anxious, immature young Monika, is more about the complications, the rough edges, the unseen complications in a young couple after the bloom of sexual charge gives way to living in the real world.