Sommaren med Monika

Summer with Monika

Summer with Monika (orig. Sommaren med Monika) is a Swedish 1953 film directed by Ingmar Bergman. It sparked controversy abroad for its frank depiction of nudity, and along with the film One Summer of Happiness from the year before, directed by Arne Mattsson, it started the reputation of Sweden as a sexually liberated place. (While Sweden is relatively sexually liberal in many regards, much of the concept of "Swedish sin" is largely exaggerated and was perpetuated by the film industry, not least by the so-called "Schwedenfilme" produced in Germany.)

The film made a star of its lead actress, Harriet Andersson. Bergman had been intimately involved with Andersson at the time and conceived the film as a vehicle for her. The two of them would go on to make several other films together, even after their romantic relationship had ended, most notably Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), and Through a Glass Darkly (1961).

Exploitation film presenter Kroger Babb purchased the American rights to the film in 1956. To increase excitement for the film, he edited it down to sixty-two minutes and emphasized the film's nudity. Renaming the film Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl, he provided a good deal of suggestive promotional material, including postcards featuring the nude Andersson.


The film's story begins in the bleak working class milieu of Stockholm. Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (Harriet Andersson) are both in dead end jobs when they meet. Harry is easygoing, while Monika is adventurous, but they fall in love. When Monika gets in trouble at home, Harry steals his father's boat, and he and Monika spend an idyllic summer in the Stockholm archipelago. When the end of the summer forces them to return home, it is clear that Monika is pregnant. Harry does the right thing, accepting responsibility and settling down with Monika and their child. He gets a real job and studies to provide for his family. Monika, however, is unsatisfied with her role as homemaker. She yearns for excitement and adventure, a desire which finally leads her astray. Harry is left behind with the child.


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