Thursday, August 02, 2007
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
The opening credits make it clear: this is 'A romantic comedy by Ingmar Bergman', with all that implies: it's a sunny farce with a third act on a country estate where the bourgeoisie flirt and fall in and out of love with each other - in between suicide attempts and monologues about the impossibility of happiness and love. So this movie is probably the root of more Woody Allen movies than any other.
Even though it has its dour patches, the movie as a whole is charming and warm and very removed from the Bergman that would bring us the likes of The Virgin Spring and Through a Glass Darkly just a few years later. It's also erotic as many Bergman films are (I must admit quite enjoying the contribution of Harriet Andersson as Petra, the maid) and it has some of that gorgeous Scandinavian light courtesy of cinematographer Gunnar Fischer, who also did The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.