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Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 5: Summer with Monika
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Introduction by director Ingmar Bergman
  • New interview with actress Harriet Andersson, conducted by film critic Peter Cowie
  • New interview with film scholar Eric Schaefer about Kroger Babb and Babb's distribution of Monika: Story of a Bad Girl as an exploitation film
  • Images from the Playground, a half-hour documentary by Stig Björkman with behind-the-scenes footage shot by Bergman, archival audio interviews with Bergman, and new interviews with actresses Bibi Andersson and Harriet Andersson
  • Trailer

Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 5: Summer with Monika

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
1953 | 97 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $299.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 20, 2018
Review Date: July 28, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

In honor of Ingmar Bergman’s one hundredth birthday, the Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive collection of his films ever released on home video. One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of international art-house cinema, Bergman was a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. The struggles of faith and morality, the nature of dreams, and the agonies and ecstasies of human relationships—Bergman explored these subjects in films ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity belie their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family life.

Arranged as a film festival with opening and closing nights bookending double features and centerpieces, this selection spans six decades and thirty-nine films—including such celebrated classics as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander alongside previously unavailable works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life. Accompanied by a 248-page book with essays on each program, as well as by more than thirty hours of supplemental features, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema traces themes and images across Bergman’s career, blazing trails through the master’s unequaled body of work for longtime fans and newcomers alike.


PICTURE

The fifth disc in Criterion’s box set, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, contains only one film: Summer with Monika. The film is presented on this dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. The same 2K restoration (sourced from the 35mm original camera negative) used for Criterion’s previous individual edition has been used for this edition.

Watching the film again and then doing quick comparisons I’m pretty sure Criterion simply slapped the content found on their original disc onto here, changing out the menu. Because of that (and the fact I’m just feeling lazy) I will just copy the content from my original article to here:

Summer with Monika is being released alongside Bergman’s Summer Interlude and of the two Monika does the look the best, if only because it looks to have been sourced from better source materials. With Interlude Criterion had trouble tracking down a solid print and had to use multiple sources. Despite still managing to deliver a sharp looking image there was still some heavy damage during portions of the film. Summer with Monika presents very few blemishes, limited primarily to a few flecks, a few scratches, and some stains, but nothing distracting.

While I noticed some minor digital noise across the faces of the actors in a couple of brighter scenes the digital transfer all told looks pretty phenomenal. Film grain is rendered nicely, objects are sharp and clearly defined, and minor details like what is found in Monika’s various sweaters come through clearly. Contrast looks correct and black levels are also fairly inky and deep, but not overly so.

A nice presentation almost seven years ago and still looks nice now.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

From the original article:

The lossless PCM mono track sounds fine but is limited primarily by age. Voice dialogue sounds clean and natural, and music sounds fairly strong if a bit edgy in places, yet the track is generally flat and has some noticeable noise the background.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Everything on the disc has been carried over from the original one so I will just copy again:

The supplements start with what has now become pretty standard for most of Criterion’s releases (though not all,) a brief introduction by Ingmar Bergman. This piece was recorded by director Marie Nyreröd along with a series of other introductions back in 2004. These introductions, I believe, were used to introduce the films before they played on Swedish television. Here Bergman states that the film was actually the first one he watched in his brand new DVD player, and that it’s still a favourite of his. He talks about the production and recalls his fond memories around the time. Not overly insightful since it’s brief but it’s charming little piece.

Following this is an interview between Harriet Andersson and film scholar Peter Cowie recorded for Criterion in early 2012. The two talk about how Andersson came to catch Bergman’s eye and be cast as Monika and she also gets into how their romantic relationship came to be. And she of course speaks fondly of the director, who was the one was able to get her out of what she considered “tits and ass” roles and lead her down the path of excellent female roles in the films. It’s a fond, engaging interview, running about 25-minutes.

Next up Criterion includes a 30-minute documentary by Stig Björkman called Images From the Playground, made for the World Cinema Foundation. It’s first introduced by Martin Scorsese, who recalls first discovering Bergman and the joy of introducing the filmmaker to younger people. The documentary itself is made up of footage shot on the set of Bergman’s various films using a 9.5mm camera. Audio interviews with the director and actors Harriet Andersson and Bibi Andersson, plays over the footage. Bergman talks about why he made these recordings on set, the joy he felt in making his films, and working with his actors, while the two Anderssons talk about their roles and working with the director, with Bibi admitting she was jealous that she never got the same types of roles Harriet did. The footage is rather fun to view and at times can be a little jarring: it’s weird to see obviously jokey tones, playful cast members, and laughing on the sets of films like Winter Light and Through a Glass Darkly, as I could only imagine them to be some of the most solemn sets in the history of filmmaking. I’m usually not fond of these types of things but this turns out to be a fairly joyful and fun little piece.

Monika Exploited! is a 13-minute piece featuring Eric Schaefner talking about the original U.S. cut of the film. The distribution rights were bought by Kroger Babb (or so he thought) and he recut the film down to just over 60-minutes and dubbed it in English, delivering it as an exploitation film. As it turns out Svensk had sold the rights to Janus films and eventually and the distributor of that version found themselves in legal trouble. Unfortunately there’s actually not a lot here about that version of the film, and we only get a couple of clips, complete with a Jazz score. Instead the piece focuses more on the exploitation films of the period and Kroger Babb’s career, including his hit Mom and Dad. I’ve never seen the alternate version of Monika and it would have been great if it could have been included here, even if just as a curiosity, but I assume either there were issues with the rights or some other condition that was out of their hands.

The supplements then conclude with the film’s original Swedish theatrical trailer, which makes the film look a little scandalous. Disappointingly the American trailer is nowhere to be seen.

The 247-page book included with the set also features the same essay by Laura Hubner written for the original edition, and the book also includes a reprinting of Bergman interviewing himself before the release. The book does not feature the original review for the film written by Jean-Luc Godard.

A big thing still missing from here is the American version of the film. The Schaefner interview covers this well but getting the actual edit would have been a big bonus, even if it was just a curiosity. At the very least, though, I’m happy Criterion still saw fit carrying everything over.

6/10

CLOSING

Still a solid edition of the film, featuring a strong presentation and a decent smattering of features. Too bad they still didn’t see it worthwhile including the American edit.




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Purchase From:
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