Written by: Johan Fundin on January 4th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: 1 October 1951 (Sweden), 26 October 1954 (USA)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Producer: Allan Ekelund
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman, Herbert Grevenius
Cinematography: Gunnar Fischer
Cast: Maj-Britt Nilsson, Birger Malmsten, Alf Kjellin, Annalisa Ericson, Georg Funkquist, Stig Olin, Mimi Pollak, Renee Björling, Gunnar Olsson
DVD release dates: 29 March 2004 (UK), 11 November 2005 (Sweden). (In the USA, available on VHS released by Homevision, 16 June 2000.)
Approximate running time: 92mins
Aspect ratio (Video format): 1:33:1 Original Academy Ratio, Black&White
Certificate: PG (UK), 15 (Sweden)
Sound: 1.0 Mono
DVD release: Tartan Video (UK), SF (Sweden)
Region coding: R0/PAL (UK), R2/PAL (Sweden)
Retail Price: £8.97 (UK)
”Bergman’s most beautiful film. I love Summer Interlude.” – Jean-Luc Godard
Widely regarded as Bergman’s first great film, Summer Interlude tells the story of Marie (masterfully played by Maj-Britt Nilsson) who is a talented ballerina student at an Opera house – in a kind of 1950s-style “Suzy Bannion at the dance academy” seen from the psychological point of view.
Take Argento’s Suspiria minus the gore – and add a multi-layered personality study instead, then you will get Summer Interlude, in the same claustrophobic setting defined by a dance academy, and metaphorically the two films are correlated through the classes of stunning ballerina ladies in this very confined space. Though Bergman’s film is more complex in terms of timelines.
At the end of the academic year, the attractive Marie gets acquainted with Henrik who is a shy secret admirer of her. Later they meet in the sunshine-drenched archipelago of east Stockholm, they fell in love and become very happy. Until the catastrophe strikes. Henrik dies in a diving accident and suddenly Marie’s life is turned up-side-down. She sinks into deep depression. Several years later, Marie is an established prime ballerina at the Opera. The day before a major premiere she receives a package containing the diary that Henrik wrote during the hot summer they spent together…
Gunnar Fischer is the most important cinematographer in the Bergman canon of movies along the late Sven Nykvist. Fischer here is delivering a continuous sequence of stunning imagery, on par with his work on The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Summer with Monika, Smiles of a Summer Night, or The Devil’s Eye. Fischer is to Summer Interlude what Nykvist is to Cries and Whispers.
While Argento’s 1977 horror show twenty-six years later allows for a spatial transfer of the female protagonist from the academy to a cityscape (Suzy’s trip to the urban center of Freiburg, shot at the BMW site at Munich, Germany), Bergman, on the other hand, in Summer Interlude, takes Marie to the physical isolation of a deserted beach where her voyage into the exploration of true love explodes into a series of images that hit hard in the guts of any viewer who has ever been in love him- or herself.
In his first great picture – at the age of only 33 – the prospective master director is staging the vis-à-vis set pieces in the typical Bergmanesque atmosphere of bleakness that would become his trademark for the next fifty years. This is the movie that the immensely influential Jean-Luc Godard counts as one of his favorite pictures of the 20th century.
The image quality for Summer Interlude despite not being restored looks really good with strong blacks and sharp image detail though out. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
This release comes with the films original Swedish language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio while serviceable does suffer from mild instances of distortion and other sound defects. English subtitles have been included.
Extras for this release consist of Star & Director Filmographies and trailers for Persona & Autumn Sonata.
Tartan’s Summer Interlude release while flawed and lacking in extras is still a welcome addition to any Bergman fans collection until a more definitive release comes along.
Note: This review is dedicated to Maj-Britt Nilsson (1924-2006).