Summer with Monika (1953)

summer with monika poster 1953 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice movie of young love


Movie Info

Movie Name: Summer with Monika

Studio:  Svensk Filmindustri

Genre(s): Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  February 9, 1953

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

summer with monika lars ekborg harriet andersson

Lovers meet

Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (Harriet Andersson) are two teens caught in jobs they hate and a living situation they dislike.  When Monika runs away from home, Harry joins her and takes to sea with Harry’s boat.  Jumping from small island to island, life seems perfect…but summer has to end and the fall eventually comes.

Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika) is a Swedish romantic drama.  Following Bergman’s Secrets of Women in 1952, the movie is an adaptation of the 1951 Per Anders Fogelström novel (Fogelström also helped Bergman adapt the screenplay).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #614) but also included it in the Bergman’s Cinema boxset.

summer with monika lars ekborg harriet andersson badlands

It’s a carefree life perfect?

Summer with Monika was a bit salacious upon its release.  The nudity in the film (brief shots of Harriet Andersson) led to some bans and marketing like Monika, The Story of a Bad Girl to attract viewers (with a shorter running time).  I can’t imagine people going to Monika expecting a tawdry film and getting a story of young love falling apart.

The story is a common one.  Two young people aren’t enjoying their lot in life and cast societal norms aside to flee to the wilderness where they can live free.  Of course freedom also has a cost and the idyllic life that appears at the start of the film begins to crumble.  Food supply and Monika’s pregnancy begin to shatter the dream life and eventually both Monika and Harry end up living lives like the homes they fled from.  Monika pushes Harry until he resembles her father, and Harry finds himself a single parent like his father.  It is tragic and sad, but it also feels very real.

Both actors are quite young.  Lars Ekborg plays the more uppity of the two and as a result it seems like he has a harder time relaxing the character when it is necessary.  Harriet Andersson continues to be great as the emotion driven Monika and has both passion and coldness as her character changes through the movie.

summer with monika pot roast harriet andersson

Nothing is more romantic than gnawing on a stolen pot roast in the wilderness

Like many of Bergman’s films, Bergman sops up the locations.  While Sweden is a “cold” country and the islands aren’t tropical, it still feels like almost a tropic escape for the characters.  As the story progresses and the summer begins to end, the weather and look of the film seems darker and less rosy…just like Monika and Harry’s future.

Summer with Monika might be a rather basic Bergman movie, but it does feel influential.  There seems to be direct ties between the movie and Terrence Malick’s Badlands (minus the crime aspect) and scenes like Monika and Harry dancing on the island were used in that film (and later Moonrise Kingdom which mimicked Badlands).  Summer with Monika is a nice story about fantasy vs. reality and the pain that inevitably comes from it.  Bergman followed Summer with Monika with Sawdust and Tinsel also released in 1953.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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