Thursday, February 13, 2014



Early Ingmar Bergman, in a light tone before the heaviness of his subjects (religion, meaning of life, death) turned his films dark and solemn. Not that this one is a comedy. Marie, a young ballerina who has been reminded that she is in the middle of her career, receives a package during a rehearsal for Swan Lake; it's the diary of a young man she had a summer fling with several years ago. She is thrown into a reverie remembering the events of that summer. While staying near the ocean with an uncle who keeps trying to press his attentions on her, Marie meets the handsome young Henrik on a ferry. They go fishing and swimming, pick and eat wild strawberries, and eventually make love. Their idyll is tainted not only by her uncle but also by Henrik's aunt, dressed in black and dying of cancer, though she predicts that she'll outlive Henrik. Near the end of the summer, just after he has jokingly told her that she should marry Superman, he dives into shallow water, hurts his back, and dies as a result of his injuries. In her grieving, she announces that she will hate God until she dies, but back in the present, her art proves to be a tool for transcendence. This seems very much a dry run for later Bergman films; it's shot beautifully and acted well enough, but it’s all fairly surface, which isn’t what we expect from Bergman. Maj-Britt Nilsson and Birger Malmsten are exactly right as the doomed lovers, and the tone is also right: like the look of the film, a mix of clouds and sunshine. It's difficult to know what to make of the uncle—he's not exactly a villain but he's not pleasant to be around, either. Probably not for the casual film fan, but a must for Bergman followers, and a nice respite for me from the crappy winter weather of recent days.  [DVD]

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