Smiles of a Summer Night

Smiles of a Summer Night (Ingmar Bergman, 1955)

The lives of bourgeois lovers in Sweden during a summer of the first half of the 20th Century are inspired to let themselves live their passion. Based on a Shakespeare play, Smiles of a Summer Night was later an inspiration for Woody Allen’s A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy.
Interestingly enough is the fact that it is one of the few comedies that Ingmar Bergman ever directed. In interviews he often said that he was not in his element while working with this genre. However, Smiles of a Summer Night might be his more accessible work and one of the most enjoyable.

With a cast of Bergman regulars of the sexy Harriet Andersson, the ever great Gunnar Bjornstrand, and a very small bit by the beautiful Bibi Andersson. The lightness of the story and the whole tone of its debonair approach to love is refreshing and brings a sexy angle to the costume piece and the beautiful actresses in Ulla Jacobsson, Margit Carlqvist, and Ella Dahlbeck.
Speaking of actors in a Bergman film, one must say that they are directed by the hand of a master. When the chameleonic Bjornstrand is the central character in a picture we are in for a treat. It is one of the most underrated actors that worked with him and he could do anything. Simply put a beard on the man and he is the elder lawyer Egerman that married a virgin but still having a passion for the hot tempered actress he frequented as a mistress years ago.

Smiles of a Summer Night might seem like an UFO in Bergman’s filmography but his treatment of bourgeoisie and their love affairs was already a subject that he was acquainted to. There’s the thin line between keeping the face and humiliation that the men suffer all along the film and we discover again strong women in Bergman’s film that have the control over the heart of their lovers. This kind of comedy can be compared to an Ernst Lubitsch classic that could have been shot in Sweden but still carrying the same sophistication and je ne sais quoi.

As the final film I had to watch from Ingmar Bergman to complete my quest of watching all of the 1000 Greatest films of all time by www.theyshootpictures.com, I must admit having had a lot of fun and I could easily recommend this entry in Bergman’s filmography and in any list. It is a great relief when someone compare this with his other austere and heavy dramas.


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