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Smiles Of A Summer Night [1955] [DVD] [1995]

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Smiles Of A Summer Night [1955] [DVD] [1995] + The Seventh Seal (50th Anniversary Special Edition) [1957] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Margit Carlqvist, Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: Import, PAL
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Sep 2001
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005MKXC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,609 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Ingmar Bergman's romantic comedy of manners focuses on a group of couples, ex-couples and would-be couples during a midsummer weekend in 1900. During the course of the weekend a game of love ensues between the players as three couples meet, separate and exchange partners.


The film which established its Swedish writer/director on the stage of world cinema, 1956's Smiles of a Summer Night is what some people would consider a contradiction in terms--an Ingmar Bergman comedy. Set in the 19th century, Smiles features Bergman stalwart Gunner Bjornstrand as Fredrik, a lawyer yet to consummate his marriage to his young wife Anne. He has hankerings after a former mistress, the voluptuous actress Desiree, who is now mistress to the bellicose Count Malcolm, whose own wife attempts to seduce Fredrik in order to make Malcolm jealous. Fredrik's wife, meanwhile, hankers after her own stepson, an austere young man confused by his repressed sexual longings. This web of romantic intrigue is eventually disentangled at a weekend party held by Desiree's mother, a formidably acerbic, fairy godmother-style figure.

Smiles of a Summer Night is sparkling but mordant, stronger on absurdism than belly laughs and it is lent shade by the long shadows of existential angst. It conveys all of Bergman's core messages about human relationships but in a light, operatic bundle of cinematic joy.

On the DVD: Presented in the original academy ratio, the film is restored here to its original, silvery glory. There are extensive notes from Bergman's memoirs, in which he talks candidly about the near-suicidal depression he was in when he wrote this ironically light script, as well as additional notes from critic Derek Malcolm, who aptly compares the film to a Mozart opera and Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor on 28 Dec 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This was director Ingmar Bergman's break-through film, the winner of the 1956 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the first of his many internationally acclaimed films. The story is a time honored one, referrencing the same tradition of romantic complications found in Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Rostand's LA RONDE: every one is either in love with or married to the wrong person.
A famous actress with two very different lovers invites both, their wives, and the son of one lover to her mother's country estate in the hope of sorting out the romantic entanglements to her satisfaction--and the result is considerable charm and unexpectedly dry wit. All the performances are excellent, with Eva Dahlbeck's Desiree a standout, but the real star of this ensemble piece is the unexpectedly witty script. Never quite veering over into broad farce but never sinking into romantic sentimentality, it is a very precisely written tale, and both cast and director make the most of it.
In the face of Bergman's later work, SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT may seem rather slight, and indeed both psychology and cinematography is considerably less complex than one expects. Even so, it is very much a Bergman film: the visual style is distinct, and the themes of appearances vs. reality, the inability to correctly interpret another's behavior, and the failure to understand one's self are very much in evidence--only here to comic effect. It is in every way a charming film that Bergman fans will enjoy.
Incidently, SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT was successfully translated to the stage as the musical A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, the score of which includes the famous "Send In The Clowns." Fans of the original film will be interested to compare the two works.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Jan 2006
Format: DVD
Fredrick Egerman (Gunnar Bjornstrand) is a forty-something lawyer of precise calculation, a bit of a dandy among the mercantile. He has a young wife Anne (the very pretty Ulla Jacobsson) whom he married when she was sixteen, but somehow never got around to unintacting her virgo. He has a sometime mistress Desirée Armfeldt (the voluptuous Eva Dahlbeck) from whom he has recently been estranged. He has a son Henrik (Bjorn Bjelvenstam) full of angst and love's confusion who lusts after the saucy maid Petra (a blonde Harriet Andersson) while he studies theology and his father's wife.
The night for Fredrick and Anne (after a Platonic nap during which Fredrick inadvertently pronounces Desirée's name) begins with the theater; and who should be starring in the production but Desirée. Anne suddenly takes ill and they rush home. Fredrick now steals away to see Desirée. After a pratfall in some water he ends up in some night clothes that belong to Desirée's current lover, the militaristic Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle as a sprung-steel bantam) who, as it happens, arrives upon the scene much to the merriment of Desirée and to the embarrassment of Fredrick.
The culmination of love's labors and intrigues takes place at the chateau of Desirée's mother, Mrs. Armfeldt (Naima Wifstrand). The action includes a most amusing duel, some hanky-panky atop a haystack, musical beds, an attempted suicide, some Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (if I caught the label right), the amorous kiss of young lovers, the triumph of the fairer sex, and the very proper lawyer's final humiliation.
If you haven't seen Smiles of a Summer Night you are in for a rare treat: a comedy by Ingmar Bergman. And it is no ordinary comedy.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Prufrock on 17 Jan 2002
Format: DVD
I bought this as a whim some months ago and never got round to watching it until this month. It was worth the wait!
Ingmar Bergman always seems to conjure up images of gloomy, angst laiden movies that only Woody Allen and manic depressives would want to watch - but don't let reputation put you off. 'Smiles of a Summer Night' is delightfully funny and warmly humane. Bergman's script is full of sparkling humour and covers all the joy and pain of courtship, love and the constant, enjoyable battle between the sexes.
Women, Bergman seems to say, know much more than their male counterparts and understand their faults have to be accepted, compromises made for love. There are some beautiful lines of farce and wisdom that are delivered with a deftness of touch that seems lost from most comedies today. Pain is present also, as it should be, but always expressed with irony. The whole film is bitter sweet like the best dark chocolate, rich and tangy!
The DVD is very good - crisp picture and good sound. Watch out for the bed on wheels and the attempted suicide - young passion turned to absurdist farce effortlessly. I laughed out loud - and this is Bergman!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By technoguy VINE VOICE on 15 July 2009
Format: DVD
"Why is youth so terribly unmerciful and who has given it leave to be that way?"An uncomfortable question posed by Desiree's mother, nestles at the heart of this excellent cocktail of scenes, centred around love and the desire for it, and the mismatches and misunderstandings that ensue.This is a beautifully cast and written film,full of bon-mots and witticisms,cynical verve and youthful zest. This is one of the trio of masterly films in 1950s by Bergman-Smiles of a Summer's Night(`55),The Seventh Seal('56), and Wild Strawberries('57)-where Bergman established his international reputation, and complete creative freedom. From scene to scene, the film zips along as if in a Mozartian opera or grand waltz. Yet the cinematography shows every scene to be beautifully framed,as if they are pictures in a gallery.

The female characters, Desiree,her mother, Charlotte(the Count's wife),the maid Petra,seem to run proceedings as if they are ultimately pulling the strings of the male puppets, due to their innate wisdom about affairs of the heart. Egerman (Bornstadt),is a pompous lawyer, married to a too young wife ,Anne, still a virgin, 3 years after marriage. His son, a theology student, is secretly in love with his mother-in-law, Anne,and makes eyes at her.He also practises on Petra(Harriet Anderson) a perky,flirty,buxom maid, kissing her when he can. Egerman has lustful longings for his former mistress, Desiree, and meets up with her at the theatre, and later her home, which is
where she also sees her lover, the militaristic Count Malcolm. " Love is like a juggler,keeping aloft 3 spheres, heart,word and body",Desiree,the actress declares in a play. Egerman and the Count meet, Egerman dressed in the Count's gown and night clothes, due to falling comically in a puddle.
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