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Her defiant stare: dreams of another world in Summer with Monika

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This article explores the distinctiveness of the female role in Ingmar Bergman's Summer with Monika (1952). As in Bergman's 1940s films, it concerns a young couple, Harry and Monika, and their flight from society's restrictions. Their escape to the Swedish archipelago proves to be an illusory, but necessary, rite of passage, and Harry - like the male of the couple in the 1940s films - progresses from youthful illusion to compromise within conventional society. However, Summer with Monika's strong investment in the female protagonist who refuses to conform marks it out as strikingly unique. The film's alignment with Monika's point of view makes her more than simply a catalyst for Harry's personal development. But Monika's role is ambivalent and there remains an extensive interest in her both as a figure of identification and an erotic object, working through the face of the character to that of the star (Harriet Andersson), who comes to signify something ‘other’ than Hollywood. On a broader scale, this study cites Summer with Monika as a key film, at the dawn of an emerging trend of European films in the 1950s and 1960s placing importance on the female point of view.

Keywords: Ingmar Bergman; Summer with Monika; Swedish cinema; dream; gender; star

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seci.2.2.103/1

Affiliations: University of Winchester.

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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  • Studies in European Cinema provides an outlet for research into any aspect of European cinema and is unique in its interdisciplinary nature, celebrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage across the continent. The journal is distinctive in bringing together a range of European cinemas in one volume and in its positioning of the discussions within a range of contexts - the cultural, historical, textual, and many others.
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