"The Seventh Seal" and "The Summer with Monika"

Still glued to the TV.

I realized that I had seen the "Seventh Seal" on TV in the US when I was a teenager. I didn't understand the film then, but I really liked all the Medieval stuff. I hadn't realized it was Swedish.

It goes heavy on symbolism, and has some really good photography that turns out to have been good luck. The eerie light that shines down on the corpse robber just after he himself dies of the plague was Bergman seeing that the clouds were moving and not giving his usual "Thank you" as a cut order after the scene, but just letting precious film roll. Today something like this is done in post-production, but for the time it was quite a stroke of luck.

The famous Danse macabre in the next to last scene is actually done with grips and tourists, the web site says. They were packing up, the actors had already left for their hotel, when a strange light and a strange cloud appeared. Bergman had the camera put back up, rounded up 7 people, put costumes on them and had them dance on the top of the hill as silhouettes.

The Summer with Monika caused quite a stir when it was released, as Harriet Anderson actually disrobes and flashes a bit of breast and a lot of bare bottom at the camera. The story is rather corny - boy and girl, fed up at home, steal a boat with an endless supply of gas and load up a few supplies for an entire summer of bliss on the islands east of Stockholm, discovering the bodily pleasures in the process. There is an ugly scene when they decide they need food other than mushrooms and steal something from a house on a nearby island, and another one where some guy tries to set their boat on fire and he and Harry get into a fight. But other than that, it never rains and life is grand!

Anyway, they go back home, Monika is pregnant, Harry gets a good job, Monika gets bored and takes a lover, they quarrel, Harry slaps her, she leaves, Harry carries on with the baby, heroic single father. Feminist critics are divided over whether or not this is a good movie - some say it is great because Monika leaves - others hate the stereotypes shown here.

As one of the papers put it: Generations of Swedes have had to combat the stereotype of being Swedish that Bergman projected in his films. The women as sexy babes, disrobing in an instant (actually, Swedes are ashamed of being naked in public outside of a sauna and won't even change into a bathing suit at the beach without putting a towel around themselves and doing a silly dance to get into/out of the suit); men willing to do anything for their children (there are some, but not the majority); smokers, the lot of them (actually, it's the Danes that smoke like there is no tomorrow); gorgeous women marrying ugly men, good-looking guys with the plain Janes. And on and on and on.

And, of course, Bergman, that randy dog, also slept with this leading lady. Seems at one time he had 4 women more or less at the same time....

The next film is not until Saturday, I suppose I shall have to get some work done....

P.S. changed the spelling, Monika is spelled with a "k" in the original.

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