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Perfect, and accessible Bergman film!
on 31 July 2011
They've been showing a huge number of Bergman films on Film4 on British TV. So, rather than buy a load of his movies, I have been taping them so I can watch them at my leisure, as I suspect many people are. I first got into Bergman not that long ago, when I watched 'Wild Strawberries' which I enjoyed immensely and which I eventually bought off Amazon. Both 'Summer Interlude' and 'Wild Strawberries' could be said to be similar in that they are a little whimsical in their outlook and also involving lost love, or lost something, without being drenched in angst or misery, which neither of them are. Both films are also probably amongst Bergman's most accessible films, and easy to watch and enjoy.
There is a sense, in both 'Wild Strawberries' and certainly in 'Summer Interlude' of loss and lost happiness, and a yearning for nostalgic moments that will never come again. But, along with the sense of loss and even sadness, is a sense of something life-affirming and even of hope too. The film does not drown in sentimentality or even pity, and in its own way is fairly upbeat and even light-hearted.
This film is over 60 years old now, but it has a refreshing quality about it, and a freshness that doesn't, for my money, date it; in fact, it has a timeless quality. The story is one of a long past love, and a romance which has ended in tragedy. And the main character, Marie, is reflecting back on this summer love she had long ago, whilst in her present day career as a ballet dancer. As I said, the film isn't really maudlin or overly-sentimental, but manages to portray honestly the bitter-sweet feelings and memories Marie has.
Bergman was a cinematic genius, and yet to some, he can seem miserablist, and even pretentious. I don't find this at all, even though I don't like every film he made. He was trying, I think, to convey in his films feelings and emotions that all humans have, which can't fully be put into words or adequately understood or explained. And, sometimes, this might not translate very well in a film. I think that whatever Bergman did though, he tried very much to remain true to his muse, which means of course that Bergman has many millions of fans far beyond the shores of Sweden. In a strange way, I think the closest films to Bergman's are Japanese films; I can't fully explain why but I think some mid-50's Japanese films have similar sentiments and the same kind of feeling Bergman conveys.