Thursday, December 6, 2012

SUMMER WITH MONIKA (Swedish) (1953)

A mature and grounded tale of young love belongs to working class milieu of Stockholm. Two working class lovers becomes a rebel leaving their family and jobs to get in each other’s company in an idyllic summer on small boat and beaches of various destinations around the sea. The time they share is passionate, carefree and independent one but it was an escape from reality. The girl became pregnant and summer is ending. Soon they return to their conditioned social reality and passionate romance fades into oblivion facing hard reality. They married underage and with a child to rear the role of responsibility starts showing true colors. The man is playing his responsibility meddling with job, study and family responsibility but the woman is immature and expecting the early happy go lucky carefree time. She was unsatisfied with life and yearning for new excitement out of boring home life and untimely responsibility of mother. The temporary romantic escape soon shifts into biting reality and tragedy.

Bergman’s this film is surely one of the best of his earlier career and it represents the face of working class urban realism where romance is a temporary escape from their predestined social reality. Just like sparing time in films and dreaming fantasy of screen for few hours. The film is Bergman’s love letter to Harriet Anderson, his muse then and the film captures perhaps her most memorable, intimate and erotic screen presence in form of Monika. Bergman served her as the face of urban rebel model of 1950s who refuse to conform to societal and familial norms. She’s more driven by instincts and impulse rather than mundane social role and responsibility. She looks so captivating in many of frames. If ‘Summer Interlude’ is Bergman’s breakthrough in aesthetic style, ‘Summer with Monika’ is its full blooded effort with his cinematographer Gunnar Fischer.  What makes Bergman unique artist of all other contemporary is his elegant portrayal of women on screen exploring refined and sublime personas. Harriet Anderson represented here like a sensuous poetry yet her nudity is explored aesthetically. Even her fall of grace in later part evokes certain kind of ambiguity and poetic grace in that beautiful static close up. Ah and then there’s another close up which is heartbreaking one and this time it’s a man and a mirror of reality and an attempt to smile.

An absolute Bergman classic.


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