Friday, May 04, 2018

Sommarlek / Summer Interlude (The Nitrate Picture Show)

Sommarlek / Summer Interlude. Birger Malmsten, Maj-Britt Nilsson.

Ingmar Bergman, Sweden 1951
Print source: KAVI, Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen instituutti
(National Audiovisual Institute), Helsinki
Running time: 96 minutes
Viewed at The Nitrate Picture Show (NPS), George Eastman Museum, Dryden Theatre, Rochester, 4 May 2018

NPS: "About the print

The Finnish Film Archive (Suomen elokuva-arkisto), now known as KAVI, acquired this nitrate print from the film’s Finnish distributor Adams Filmi Oy in 1986. It was screened in an archival setting at the Orion theater in Helsinki in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, and 2003. It displays traces of use (moderate scratching), but still looks striking. Shrinkage: 1%

About the film

“From Sweden comes a picture lovely in everything but its title, the Colony’s Illicit Interlude. This beautifully gentle remembrance of things’ past merits a worthier handle as well as your attention. The original title, Sommarlek, literally ‘Summer Play,’ is infinitely truer to the tone. . . . Skillfully told in two levels of time, the story also makes the point that of all the artists, the ballet dancer is the least rewarded for the most work.”
– Washington Post and Times Herald, December 25, 1954

“This beautifully realized recount . . . gives a subtle and sensitive presentation of a strange, youthful love affair, no more meriting the pornographic word “illicit” than it deserves to be labeled smut. For the most part, Director Ingmar Bergman simply traces in clean, poetic terms the dancer’s vivid recollections of a wonderful summer she spent in the home of an aunt and uncle by a beautiful Swedish lake and of the passionate discovery and fulfillment of love with the youth, who later died. It is an idyll that evolves in lovely glimpses of the two young people swimming at dawn, running along rocky ledges, pressing kisses beneath the trees and lying in blissful contentment under the white-clouded dome of the sky.”
– Bosley Crowther, New York Times, October 27, 1954

“Some of the action and nuances of dialogue are a bit daring by American movie standards, but the whole thing is played in such a frank and open-hearted manner that it never gives offense.”
– Otis L. Guernsey, New York Herald Tribune, October 27, 1954"

AA: In Ingmar Bergman's oeuvre Fängelse (The Prison) was his serious and ironic farewell to the 1940s. The melancholy beauty of Sommarlek was a harbinger of the future. One can see elements here of The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and Persona, and of course Sommaren med Monika and Bergman's other "summer films" of the 1950s. For the first time Bergman felt that he had full command of his own personal style and approach. The background was a love affair in Bergman's own youth. Also the account of the opera and ballet milieu was based on personal experience.

Maj-Britt Nilsson was Bergman's first great heroine, and in his account of the Nordic summer in the archipelago he created an original vision of the mystique of the white nights, the transience of happiness.

The dynamics of the film is based on the interplay of the past and the present and art and life, as well as life and death. The feeling is genuine and deeply felt. In this festival it is interesting to reflect Bergman in comparison with George Cukor (Holiday) and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes).

I sampled earlier this year the Bergman 100 DCP of Sommarlek. It is very well made, but it does not convey the magic of Gunnar Fischer's cinematography like our vintage nitrate print.

No comments: