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Criterion Collection: Smiles of a Summer Night [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import]

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Image/Sphe
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004NWPY3Y
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,109 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: DVD
This was Bergman's international breakthrough film, which is somewhat ironic given how different it is from most of his œuvre. Bergman is famous for making dark, brooding, philosophical films, but Smiles of a Summer Night is a romantic comedy, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, Bergman only made it because he needed to do a more commercial film to finance the projects he was really interested in. Despite being somewhat predictable (couples being serially unfaithful, concocting intricate plots to seduce the current object of their desire), the film is utterly charming with wonderful comedic performances from some of Bergman's favourite actors. This film is a perfect romantic comedy and, if nothing else, it is proof of Bergman's mastery of his art.
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