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Smiles of a Summer Night

shown  October 2002

in conjunction with Purbeck Film Festival

An unusual departure from the dark themes found in many of Bergman's films, this 1955 offering is a lighthearted romp of romantic confusion. Eight weekend visitors to a lush country estate in the late 19th century cavort through all sorts of amorous misadventures.

"Ingmar Bergman achieves one of the few classics of carnal comedy: a tragicomic chase and roundelay that raises boudoir farce to elegance and lyric poetry. This film is the culmination of Bergman's 'rose' style; as writer and director, he ties up his persistent, early battle-of-the-sexes themes in an intricate plot structure. And in this fin-de-siècle houseparty setting, with its soft light, its delicate, perfumed atmosphere, and its golden pavilion, the women are all beautiful and epigrams shine. The film becomes an elegy to transient love; a gust of wind, and the whole vision may drift away. As the hostess, the stage actress trying to win back the lawyer she loves, there is the great Eva Dahlbeck (in one inspired, suspended moment she sings 'Freut Euch des Lebens'). Ulla Jacobsson is the lawyer's virgin wife; Harriet Andersson, a blonde here but as opulent and sensuous as in her earlier roles, is the impudent, love-loving maid; Margit Carlqvist is the proud, unhappy countess. Gunnar Björnstrand is the lawyer, Björn Bjelvenstam is his son, Jarl Kulle is the strutting count, and Naima Wifstrand is the actress's aged mother, who is carried about for her game of croquet."

Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies


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