Summer with Monika
(Sommaren med Monika)
Harriet Andersson, Lars Ekborg, John Harryson,
Critics touted Summer with Monika as “Bergman’s most erotic film” for its theme of a young man’s sexual awakening and scenes of nudity on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. But this summer interlude is surrounded by some of the bleakest commentary of Bergman’s early cinema, in a city captured in all its shadows and empty light by the expert cinematographer Gunnar Fischer. Monika (Harriet Andersson), a restless, sexually harassed vegetable seller, and her more bourgeois boyfriend Harry take off in his father’s boat for the islands. There she teaches him how to dance and how to make love, how to steal vegetables, and they dream of a family. But Borzage lovers turn into characters out of Pierrot le fou. Monika, now pregnant, becomes a denizen of the reeds. A shot of a spider web seems to announce Bergman deserting his young heroine, leaving her to founder in femme fatalism (eternal spider to man’s fly) and a life of dubious freedom.