SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT, 1955
A small town at the turn of the century. Lawer Fredrik EGerman has an ingenue-wife, Anne, and a grown-up son, Henrik, from an earlier marriage. His wife is still untouched, and instead he meets his former mistress Desiree after her performance at the theatre. They leave the theatre together and EGerman falls in one of the puddles. Desiree takes him to her home and EGerman changes into a night-shirt, owned by count Malcolm, Desirees present lover. Suddenly the count comes for a visit and throws EGerman out.
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Ingmar Bergman, as a director, is synonymous with the word dark. In his most popular films, he leaves you with an unshakable sense of death conquers all (Seventh Seal) , and shows the some of the atrocities that humans are capable of (Virgin Spring). They are big, unapologetic, dark, pessimistic films. But in stark contrast, the lightness of his 1955 masterpiece "Smiles of a Summer Night", seems something that some bizzaro swedish Frank Capra directed.
This film's predecessor is clearly A Midsummer's Night Dream, and as one could figure, Jean Renoir's 1939 Rules of the Game. But strangely enough, Bergman admitted to watching the movie, after Smiles of A Summer Night was made, and he also admitted to not liking it. But that does not damper how much I love this film. It is essentially just a story of three couples and how one weekend retreat - and some curiously flavored wine- gets these couples reassessing their respective loves.
My love affair with Bergman first started with this film, he is very much like a magician with his use of award winning similies in the script that carry the visual imagery to amazing places. He just makes it look so easy. This film does a brilliant job at showing six people at three various stages of their romantic life, each one of them as being characterized by the eponymous title of the film; each one of the couples as a various "smile of the summer night".
My favorite moment in the film, is divided with two scenes, but both of which involve the hilarious depiction of Carl Magnus, played by Jarl Kulle. First off, whe Carl discovers his wife's infidelity, he states, "I can tolerate my wife's infidelity, but if anyone touches my mistress, I become a tiger." The best part about this is his character is such a ludicrous characterization with an Imperial title (Count), that you believe every word he says, regardless of how stupid he sounds. Secondly, the moment where Fredik has to walk home in pajamas, for the sole reason of how pathetic he looks, it's pretty much incredible.
This is yet another awe-inspiring movie, and as I previously mentioned, it comes from the king of dark-cerebral directors; Bergman. Please keep in mind that this is pure entertainment though, no serious complex issues to dwell on. The only thing you will be dwelling on is how you want every movie you watch, to make you feel the way that this film makes you feel. (Also, you feel that Woody Allen shouldn't have EVER tried with a Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy. Allen only wishes he could be as funny as this film is.)