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SUMMER INTERLUDE (SOMMARLEK) (ILLICIT INTERLUDE) (director/writer: Ingmar Bergman; screenwriter: Herbert Grevenius; cinematographer: Gunner Fischer; editor: Oscar Rosander; music: Erik Nordgren; cast: Maj-Britt Nilsson (Marie), Birger Malmsten (Henrik), Alf Kjellin (David Nyström), Annalisa Ericson (Kaj, ballet dancer), Georg Funkquist (Uncle Erland), Stig Olin (Ballet Master), Mimi Pollak (Mrs. Calwagen, Henrik’s aunt), Renée Björling (Aunt Elisabeth), Gunnar Olsson (Pastor); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Allan Ekelund; Home Vision Cinema; 1951-Sweden-in Swedish with English subtitles)
It plays out as Bergman’s Red Shoes, that’s gracefully done as a French romantic drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This ninth film of Ingmar Bergman (“Wild Strawberries”/”Dreams”/”Autumn Sonata“)is considered to be his first personal film and one of his early films he still admires. It’s cowritten with Herbert Grevenius and Bergman. It plays out as Bergman’s Red Shoes, that’s gracefully done as a French romantic drama.

Marie (Maj-Britt Nilsson) is a temperamental 28-year-old single prima ballerina in Stockholm, worried about aging and what she would do when her career is over. During a dress rehearsal of “Swan Lake,” Marie mysteriously receives a diary she kept as a teenager. It tells of her summer affair with her now-dead teenage lover Henrik (Birger Malmsten), in her hometown archipelago near Stockholm. The sensitive and jealous Henrik was an idler college student about to inherit a fortune from his dying aunt (Mimi Pollak), whom he was a ward to; while Marie was serious about studying ballet.

While Marie is reading the diary, the film slips into three long flashbacks of that one romantic summer the lovers spent together and how her first love Henrik died at summer’s end in a diving accident. After his death Marie became embittered and built a wall around herself and put all her efforts into her ballet career. She now ponders the mistakes in her life despite her highly successful career, and suddenly becomes more giving to her current pushy reporter suitor (Alf Kjellin).

It’s a minor Bergman, but his first mature one. It lacks depth, but is playful in spots, the music is elegant and the moody piece captures the snares of dwelling so much in the past. The scenes when the teens are in love are fresh, the idyllic summer of games is lyrically captured by the future great director and the scene where the dancer returns to her hometown island after reading the diary and confronting her ghoulish and lecherous elderly Uncle Erland (Georg Funkquist) are priceless.

To give it an authentic look, the cast was drawn from the Stockholm Royal ballet.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”