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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Summer Interlude (1951) d. Ingmar Bergman

Maj-Britt Nilsson plays Marie in Summer Interlude (1951) d. Ingmar Bergman

Movie Review
Summer Interlude (1951)
d. Ingmar Bergman
Criterion Collection #613

  Part of the point of this endeavor (watching all of the Criterion Collection titles) is to learn more about my own taste for films.  One of the early discoveries thus far is that I really like Ingmar Bergman.  The film text book I bought, itself from the 60s, derides Bergman claiming that his fans are typically people who view film as a form of literature, but if viewing film as a form of literature is wrong then baby I don't want to be right.

 I love the heroines of Bergman- dark, steeped in regret and repressed longing, I feel like I identify with them and their experiences.  Bergman's films are steeped in fatalism/existentialism/ Protestantism, gloomy and severe they represent a body of work that comes close to approximating the real emotional experience of many people who love and lose, people who are isolated from their surroundings, people who live in the past.  His culture is so far from what we call "contemporary pop culture" that he might as well be a 19th century novelist, and yet all of his films maintain a relevance simply by virtue of their emotional acuity.

 Summer Interlude is about a summer affair between two young people that ends with the death of the boy, Henrik.  Marie, the female half of the pair (played by a winning Maj-Britt Nilsson) is a ballerina who tells the story from the present in flashback forms.  The happiness of the past is contrasted with the gloominess of the present, where Marie is "always tired" and wonders what the point is of all of it.

  Bergman successfully counterpoints the beauty of the Nordic summer with the reality of a present where Marie is trapped inside the ballet theater for days on end, rehearsing for a big performance but realizing she is nearing the end of her professional career as a ballerina.  I agree with the Criterion Collection synopsis entirely:
Touching on many of the themes that would define the rest of his legendary career—isolation, performance, the inescapability of the past—Ingmar Bergman’s tenth film was a gentle drift toward true mastery.
  Everyone should watch Bergman movies, particularly those struggling with isolation and/or the inescapability of the past.  Don't we all do that?

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