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Summer with Monika (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]


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Frequently Bought Together

Summer with Monika (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Summer Interlude (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Smiles of a Summer Night (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)
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Product Details

  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: May 29 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007A9EGC2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,746 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

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Released in 1953, Monika, an early Ingmar Bergman-directed melodrama, did much to establish the reputation of Swedish cinema, and perhaps Swedish women in general, as leading the vanguard in sexual liberation. The film attracted the wrath of the censors and one scene of lovemaking had to be cut. While subsequent generations will look at the film and wonder whatever the fuss was about, it retains a vivid and frolicsome sensuality, before submitting to the inevitable Bergman bleakness.

The film tells the story of a young couple, Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (18-year-old Harriet Andersson, with whom Bergman would fall in love), stuck in lousy jobs in Stockholm. Harry is beset by parental responsibility--his mother died young and his father is ill--while Monika is fed up with her drunken, violent father. They escape in a motorboat to spend a blissful summer on an island in the archipelago. Once Monika gets pregnant and they're forced to steal food, however, the idyll concludes and they return to Stockholm, where the relationship disintegrates. Visually ravishing, Monika would have a deep impact on French New Wave cinema. --David Stubbs


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 11 2012
Format: DVD
The first half recalls Bergman's earlier 'Summer Interlude'. But the
second half goes further and explores the 'what if' of the summer
romance between teens; moving into parenthood, marriage, and
disillusionment.

The acting is excellent, and unlike 'Summer Interlude' these actors
look close to the naïve age they're playing.

The film's point of view sometimes felt a bit one sided to me with 'bad
girl' Monika, from a crude, poor family, less willing to extend herself
than her upper-class boyfriend Harry. Of course, along with being
selfish she is also the more complex and fascinating character,
especially as played by the young Harriett Andersson.

Some critics make the argument ' with merit ' that the film doesn't
judge Monika,the audience does. Indeed, it could be argued that the
film is meant to make us question our own judgment of a poor girl who
is brought up with dreams of marriage as a glamorous escape, and not
just a humdrum existence. It's not for nothing the heroine is obsessed
with Hollywood love stories.

Andersson's performance may be the first of the many hyper-real and
extremely complex characters in Bergman's body of work, transcending
'type' and moral judgment.

The film was beloved by the French New wave filmmakers, who saw in it's
complex attitude (and very brief nudity) a throwing off of the shackles
of conventional characters and storytelling.
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By A Customer on June 26 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This look at the drives and needs of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood has many facets. The most interesting is its examination of the forces that drive people together.
The need for independence, for affection, for acceptance drives Monika into the arms of Harry. He provides these needs and they run off together.
As the story progresses Monika discovers she has given up one cage for another, one of her own making. In finding this she does what she knows best - runs away.
The transformation of Monika from a fresh faced young teenager at the beginning of the film to a woman whose inner ugliness is beginning to shine through is one of the great character developments on film.
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By Edward on July 4 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is a beautiful film about youth and love and loss. The acting is great. Harriet Anderson as Monika is gorgeous. The Swedish title translates as "A Summer with Monika." No doubt the Puritan American censors had to put "bad girl" in the American version's original 1955 title to keep up their record of stupid hypocrisy. One of my favorite Bergman pictures.
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By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 13 2013
Format: Blu-ray
One of the things I love most about Blu-ray is that films from the 50s and earlier can be brought back to life. Summer with Monika is a Criterion release, so you know that it looks as good as it can. For a 60-year-old film, the results are most pleasing.

The story is about human relationships, and how our perspectives alter as we mature. Harry is 19 when he's approached by Monika in a cafe. She's very forward and asks him if he'll take her to the cinema. After he agrees, the two decide that they need to be together. The title suggests that the relationship might not last forever, but stop reading now if you want to avoid further spoilers.

Both have boring jobs, and Harry soon follows Monika's lead after she quits. She seeks refuge with him, claiming that her drunken father is abusive, and Harry does his best to provide for her. In order to have privacy, he takes her to his father's boat and they sleep there. This is the start of an adventure in the style of a road movie, but this one involves a boat. The two sail to secluded areas and live with a certain amount of freedom. The main problem is their lack of money, but they are not above stealing in order to survive. It's like an ancient cross between Something Wild, Pierrot le fou, and Grave of the Fireflies, but nobody's life is in danger.

Things follow their natural course, with Monika eventually revealing that she is pregnant. It's here that Harry realizes that his idyllic life will soon have to end, and that the couple will need to be more responsible if they are to raise a child, but Monika hates the thought of returning to her old life. When she accepts the inevitable, their lives change.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
The Story of Romeo and Juliet Told by Bergman March 27 2007
By Galina - Published on Amazon.com
What started as a story of idyllic summer of love and journey, shared between very young Harry and Monica, became an interesting study of relationship that had to survive the demands of real world after the journey was over.

I kept thinking while watching this film what would've happened to Romeo and Juliet (who were close by age to film's heroes Monica, 17 and Harry, 19) had they been given a chance to live happily ever after. Would they be able to love each other after the reality of marriage would fight with their eternal love, when the baby is crying all night long and there is no money to pay a rent, and young and tender Juliet has learned about power and pleasures of sex but her Romeo is always out working, trying to make enough money to support her and the child? Would Juliet get bored and angry with Romeo for leaving her home alone? Would she start looking for fun elsewhere? Would be Romeo left heartbroken and bitter or would the memories of that unforgettable summer with his Juliet - Monica still stay with him as the best time of his life?

Beautiful film with wonderful Harriet Andersson as a sultry teenager Monica, full of life, rebellious against her boring existence at home, ready for all pleasures of adult life but not ready for responsibilities of a wife and a mother. Will she learn? Will she remember the summer with Harry? Bergman, as usual, does not answer the questions. He never does. He tells the story - we are the ones who are left with unanswered questions.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Sommaren med Monika March 1 2006
By Patrik Lemberg - Published on Amazon.com
This 1953 film is available on region free Tartan DVD from amazon.co.uk as "Summer with Monika" (almost directly translated from the original title "Sommaren med Monika".) It's an OK edition, worth obtaining especially for Bergman fans. The film is also available on NTSC VHS as "Monika." Renaming the title of this film yet another time as "Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl" is just ridiculous. Even if the studio that will provide this DVD is going to be Criterion, I will certainly have to think twice whether or not I want "Bergman's Story of Monika the Bad Girl" on my bookshelf...who the hell is handing out these additional/optional movie titles over 50 years in retrospect, anyway...?
Aside from unaccredited roles in past Ingmar Bergman films, Harriet Andersson is introduced in a leading role alongside Lars Ekborg (both in their twenties playing 17 year old Monika and 19 year old Harry.) As often in Bergman's films the story has a deeper meaning than its basic plot, and has a stable shifting of multiple emotion. This is also one of few Bergman films to feature so many beautiful Swedish archipelago images. Among his better from the early era.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Superb portrait of a young woman who isn't who she appears to be Aug. 15 2012
By Turfseer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Right before the release of 'Sawdust and Tinsel', which marked the beginning of Ingmar Bergman's long string of profound films with metaphysical themes, he served up 'Summer with Monika', a film more in the tradition of the Italian neo-realists, about a young couple who spend a summer of abandon amongst the islands of the Swedish archipelago, north of Stockholm, before returning to the city and getting married.

The film's principals, Harry and Monika, are introduced when they meet at a bar. One is struck right away by Monika's liking for Harry--he really doesn't have to do anything and immediately scores a date with her at the local cinema. We soon discover that both young people are very needy. Monika comes from the more lower class background, residing in a tenement apartment with her mother and an alcoholic father, along with younger siblings who can't keep quiet. Harry lives in a bigger home but lost his mother when he was eight and hardly speaks with his father who suffers from health problems.

In the film's first act, Harry and Monika are at the point where they both want to run away as they both hate their jobs. Harry is a delivery person for a glass and porcelain factory and is constantly berated by his superiors as he's often late for work and shows little enthusiasm for the job. Monika works for a produce wholesaler and must endure the salacious comments and outright groping by crass co-workers and supervisors. It's understandable how Monika is so immediately attracted to the kindly Harry, as he doesn't treat her as a sex object like many of the men she knows from her side of the tracks.

Perhaps the only unsatisfying aspect of 'Summer with Monika', is the underdeveloped character of Lelle, one of Monika's neighbors who we can presume has either had a prior relationship with Monika or admired her from afar. Out of jealousy he socks Harry in the face out of the blue, after observing him escorting Monika home and saying goodbye. It's an awkward scene because we find out nothing about Lelle before, and wonder simply who this guy is.

The film's second act (where the principals commit themselves to an adventure outside their ordinary lives) occurs after Harry is fired from his job (and Monika quits hers); Harry ends up convincing Monika to take his father's motor boat up to the islands in the archipelago and 'live free' from the constraints of their drab lives back in the city. The cinematography, highlighting the natural wonders of this part of Sweden, is magnificent. The second act machinations include more revelations about Harry's upbringing as well as another awkward scene with Lelle fighting Harry after he attempts to torch their boat (has he been stalking the couple the whole time? Again, he's a character who always seems to be popping up out of the blue without a back story).

One of the great things about Bergman is that you can always count on him for his deeply nuanced female characters. 'Summer with Monika' is basically a brilliant character study about a very young woman who turns out to be quite different than what we're first led to believe. At first, Monika appears quite sympathetic, as she cradles Harry in her arms after he reveals how lonely he was as a child (due to the loss of his mother and distant father).

Even before Monika's sudden transformation, there are clues that she has quite a different temperament than Harry. When Harry is fired, he only brings himself to tip over one glass in the factory, instead of smashing many more glasses as he could have done. When Harry knocks Lelle down during the boating trip, Harry restrains Monika, who could have ended up killing him, by striking him with the oar.

Monika begins to sing a different tune when the intrepid couple find themselves subsisting on mushrooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like a savage animal, she breaks into a well-to-do home on one of the islands and steals a pot roast. The husband calls the police but Monika breaks free and returns to the boat, where Harry chastises her for committing an illegal (and hence immoral) act. Monika has no scruples, and believes that the 'ends justify the means'.

The third act, perhaps the strongest of the film, chronicles the dissolution of Harry and Monika's relationship. They end up marrying due to Monika's pregnancy. She turns out to be the wife from hell as she doesn't want to care for her child and would like to resume the life she had when she was single. Meanwhile, Harry takes steps toward maturity by finding a job, with co-workers who treat him with respect.

Things go from bad to worse, when Harry discovers that she's been sleeping with Lelle and also spent the rent money on an expensive suit. When he asks her why she went to bed with Lelle, she cynically claims that she loves him. Harry then slaps Monika who ends up leaving him. Bergman's portrait of Monika is sympathetic but he doesn't excuse her behavior. In effect, she goes back to the very men she was trying to escape from in the first place. The famous close-up of Monika suggests that she's as empty on the inside as that vacant stare we see on the outside.

On the other hand, when we see Harry close-up in the last scene, we're first treated to a montage of the young father's memories of his summer with Monika. His expression changes from pride in his newborn, to a look of sadness, as he realizes that he has a tough road ahead as a single parent. The brilliance of Bergman is that he never sugarcoats reality. Monika's actions are vile but her difficult upbringing is no excuse for her rejecting her responsibilities as a mother. Indeed, Bergman is saying, there are people like Monika in this world! Deal with it!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
INGMAR BERGMAN, OPUS 12 Nov. 24 2007
By Daniel S. - Published on Amazon.com
**** 1953. Co-written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Two teenagers spend the summer in the country after having left their job and their family. When they return to Stockholm, Monika is pregnant and Harry must now find a way to support his family. Two years after Summer Interlude (Sommarlek) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Great Britain ], Ingmar Bergman describes another figure of woman. But if the summer Marie spends with Henrik will leave a lasting souvenir in the youg woman's heart, Monika will soon forget the idyllic weeks spent with Harry and will not bear the prosaic return to the real world. A movie about innocence and responsibility that will leave you hating reality. Once more.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What Once Binds Also Cleaves June 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This look at the drives and needs of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood has many facets. The most interesting is its examination of the forces that drive people together.
The need for independence, for affection, for acceptance drives Monika into the arms of Harry. He provides these needs and they run off together.
As the story progresses Monika discovers she has given up one cage for another, one of her own making. In finding this she does what she knows best - runs away.
The transformation of Monika from a fresh faced young teenager at the beginning of the film to a woman whose inner ugliness is beginning to shine through is one of the great character developments on film.


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