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Summer with Monika(1953)
In Stockholm, a girl and boy from working-class families run away from home to spend a secluded, romantic summer at the beach, far from parents and responsibilities. Inevitably, it is not long before the pair is forced to return to reality.
For more about Summer with Monika and the Summer with Monika Blu-ray release, see Summer with Monika Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Per Anders Fogelström
Starring: Harriet Andersson, Lars Ekborg, Dagmar Ebbesen, Åke Fridell, Naemi Briese, Åke Grönberg
» See full cast & crew
Summer with Monika Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 18, 2012
Ingmar Bergman's "Sommaren med Monika" a.k.a "Summer with Monika" (1953) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original theatrical trailer; short introduction to the film by director Ingmar Bergman; exclusive new interview with actress Harriet Andersson conducted by Peter Cowie; "Images From the Playground (2009), a documentary film directed by Stig Bjorkman and produced by the World Film Foundation; and a video interview with writer Eric Schaefer. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Laura Hubner, a 1958 review by filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, and a publicity piece from 1953 in which Ingmar Bergman interviews himself. In Swedish, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Summertime in Stockholm. 19-year old Harry (Lars Ekborg), who packs glass and porcelain in a small warehouse, meets 17-year old Monika (Harriet Andersson), who packs vegetables in another warehouse. They immediately fall in love. Because the two are constantly abused, Harry by his coworkers and Monika by her drunk father, they decide to leave the city and spend the summer on a remote island in the Stockholm archipelago.
In the beginning, the idea proves a resounding success – they make love without hiding and sleep for as long as they want. Monika even teaches Harry how to dance. However, eventually they get bored with each other and frustrated with their mushrooms-only meals. Monika also becomes pregnant.
As the nights get colder, Harry and Monika return home and marry. Harry vows to take care of Monika and immediately gets a new low-paying job – which quickly frustrates Monika because Harry can barely make enough to pay the rent and they can't afford the new coat she wants. Harry does his best to convince Monika that the hard times will end as soon as he gets his engineering degree, and then a better job, but Monika does not believe him.
Instead of bringing them closer, their new born daughter pushes them further apart. Monika often leaves Harry to take care of the baby while she tries to live as she once did. Eventually, when Harry is sent on a job away from Stockholm, she gets herself a lover.
The story the film tells is simple. It is about love, it is about dreams, it is about disappointment. In the beginning of the film Harry and Monika discover freedom and for a while live with the idea that their love is different, untouchable, incorruptible. They dream about growing old and vow never to conform to the world they have temporarily escaped.
But their marriage changes everything. It is the end of their rebellion and the beginning of the life they never wanted. The responsibilities and debts slowly chip away at their love. Eventually, they realize that when they had nothing but each other they had everything they needed. As parents, they are exactly like the people who harassed them when they first met. The realization that their lives have irreversibly changed corrupts their love.
Adapted from a novel by Per Anders Fogelström, Summer with Monika is arguably Ingmar Bergman's most straightforward film. The Swedish director wrote the title role in the film specifically for Andersson, with whom he consequently fell in love. After Summer with Monika, Anderson appeared in number of other films Bergman directed, including Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through a Glass Darkly, Cries and Whispers, and Fanny and Alexander.
Bergman and cinematographer Gunnar Fischer (Summer Interlude, The Magician) are a formidable team. The long panoramic shots from the island where Harry and Monika retreat are intoxicatingly beautiful. There is a certain sense of purity in them that changes the entire complexion of the film. When Monika runs naked on the shore, the viewer could literally feel the euphoria of being free for the first time.
For the U.S. market, Summer with Monika was renamed Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl, re-cut down to just over an hour, given a new soundtrack courtesy of Les Baxter, and promoted as an exploitation film by producer Howard Kroger Babb. But the film wasn't easy to distribute. In 1956, in the LA area, for example, many prints were confiscated, and a local judge went on to announce that "Monika appeals to potential sex murderers".
Summer with Monika Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ingmar Bergman's Summer with Monika arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative. Restoration and color grading were done using the following: Image Systems' Phoenix and Nucoda FilmMaster, Quantel's iQ, Foundry's NUKE, and Autodesk's Flame. Further restoration involved the manual removal of thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Project supervisor: Peter Bengtsson.
Colorist: Mats Holmberg/Chimney Pot, Stockholm.
Color grading consultant: Nils Melander.
Image restoration supervisor: Mats Forsberg/Marsmotel, Stockholm.
Audio restoration supervisor: Leif Westerlund/Cinepost Studios, Stockholm."
The high-definition transfer is wonderful. Clarity is fantastic while color balance is virtually flawless; the blacks are lush and well saturated but do not look boosted and the grays and whites look notably stable (notice how tight the image looks in screencapture #9). Detail is outstanding, with the panoramic vistas from the island looking particularly strong. Furthermore, there are no traces of problematic lab tinkering. Unsurprisingly, there is a layer of light and well resolved grain throughout the entire film and not even a whiff of edge-enhancement ruining it. The high-definition transfer is also free of banding and aliasing patterns. Since the old R2 Tartan DVD had some obvious stability issues, I specifically would like to point out that there is no edge flicker. Finally, there are no flecks, large damage marks and debris. All in all, this wonderful presentation of Summer with Monika is a prime example of why Criterion are one of the very best distributors releasing classic films on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Summer with Monika Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Swedish LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is excellent. The dialog is crisp, stable, and free of problematic background hiss. Though not too prominent, Erik Nordgren's soundtrack also boasts good depth (it does not sound 'thin'). Additionally, there are no high-frequency distortions or audio dropouts to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
Summer with Monika Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Summer with Monika Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Arguably Ingmar Bergman's most straightforward film, Summer with Monika tells a simple story about love, dreams, and disappointment. Amongst the few films directed by the legendary Swedish director that have already appeared on Blu-ray, in my opinion Summer with Monika looks most impressive in high-definition. Viewing it again was a special experience. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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