Sommaren med Monika
***/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Harriet Andersson, Lars Ekborg, Dagmar Ebbesen, Åke Fridell
screenplay by Per Anders Fogelström
directed by Ingmar Bergman
by Bryant Frazer In the annals of Early Bergman, Summer with Monika is The Big One--the international hit that established the striving Swede's cred as a major filmmaker. The irony is that it's among the slightest of his works. Its notoriety is mainly the result of a promotional campaign selling it as a sex film, using imagery that suggested a nudie pic rather than a melancholy (and cautionary) rumination on life, love, and gender relations. Of course, it wasn't just the trenchcoat brigade that turned out in force for a movie that was at one point evocatively retitled Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl(!). In fact, Monika was the one that made Woody Allen a lifelong Bergman fan. And it left a huge impression on Jean-Luc Godard, who, in 1958, wrote that Monika is "the most original film by the most original of directors," arguing that Bergman's loving photography of Harriet Andersson predated (and thus eclipsed) Fellini's widely lauded use of Guiletta Masina in a neo-realist mode in Nights of Cabiria, and that it surpassed in craft (mais oui!) Roger Vadim's employment of Bardot in And God Created Woman.