Summer with Monika
Summer with Monika (Swedish: Sommaren med Monika) is a 1953 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman, based on Per Anders Fogelström's 1951 novel of the same title. It was controversial abroad at the time of its first release for its frank depiction of nudity and, along with the film One Summer of Happiness from the year before, directed by Arne Mattsson, it helped to create the reputation of Sweden as a sexually liberated country.
|Sommaren med Monika|
Original Swedish film poster
|Directed by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Produced by||Allan Ekelund|
Per Anders Fogelström (book)
The film made a star of its lead actress, Harriet Andersson. Bergman had been intimately involved with Andersson at the time and conceived the film as a vehicle for her. The two of them would continue to work together, even after their romantic relationship had ended, in films like Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through a Glass Darkly, and Cries and Whispers.
The film's story begins in the bleak working-class milieu of Stockholm. Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (Harriet Andersson) are both in dead end jobs when they meet. Harry is easygoing, while Monika is adventurous, but they fall in love. When Monika gets in trouble at home, Harry steals his father's boat, and he and Monika spend an idyllic summer in the Stockholm archipelago. When the end of the summer forces them to return home, it is clear that Monika is pregnant. Harry happily accepts responsibility and settles down with Monika and their child; he gets a real job and goes to night school to provide for his family. Monika, however, is unsatisfied with her role as homemaker. She yearns for excitement and adventure, a desire which finally leads her astray. Harry leaves town for work and comes home a day early to find his wife with another man. They get a divorce and Harry is left behind with custody of their daughter, June, to raise alone.
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Exploitation film presenter Kroger Babb purchased the US rights to the film in 1955. To increase excitement for the film, he edited it down to 62 minutes and emphasized the film's nudity. Renaming the film Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl, he provided a good deal of suggestive promotional material, including postcards featuring the nude Andersson.
"The first Bergman I ever saw was that one because there was talk in the neighborhood that there was a nude scene. This was unheard of in any American film, that level of advancement. It’s so funny to think of it that way. I saw it, and it was a very, very interesting film apart from the utterly benign nude moment. A short time after that, I just happened to see Sawdust and Tinsel. I had no idea it was done by Bergman — that is, the person who’d done Summer with Monika — and it was just a fabulous movie. I was riveted in my seat by it all. I thought to myself, 'Who is this guy?'”
- Eric Schaefer, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919–1959 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999; ISBN 0-8223-2374-5).
- "Summer with Monika (1953)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Kilday, Gregg (4 February 2011). "Woody Allen Pays Tribute to Ingmar Bergman: 'His Approach Was Poetic'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-10-10.