Feature Film, 1955

Smiles of a Summer Night

Ingmar Bergman's international breakthrough took the form of this turn-of-the-century comedy about passion, jealousy and pride.

"The poor imagination of a spotty youth, the insolent dreams of an immature heart and a boundless contempt for artistic and human truth are the forces which have created this "comedy". I am ashamed to have seen it."
Olof Lagercrantz in Dagens Nyheter

About the film

Talking about the genesis of the film in Bergman on Bergman:

As for Smiles of a Summer Night, the situation was simply that I needed another success. Journey into Autumn [Dreams] had gone to hell and I had to attach myself again to SF. It was one of the most difficult periods in my life. For a couple of years I'd been producer at Malmö City Theater, the Harriet period was over, and I'd promised Carl-Anders Dymling that my next film wouldn't be a tragedy. He'd also intimated that if it was to be a serious piece, well then I hardly need bother my head about making a film that summer. I needed money, so I thought it wiser tom make a comedy.

Epilogue 

The shooting of Smiles of a Summer Night began on June 28, 1955, and ended on August 29 the same year.

Reminiscing in Bergman on Bergman:

'I remember how, afterwards, when they saw the film, head office told me it had all been a dreadful miscalculation. The film wasn't funny. It was stylised. It was too lame, and too long. They'd also tumbled to the fact that it was in period costume, and just then costume films weren't doing any box-office.'

In Cannes 1956, Smiles of a Summer Night was awarded Prix de l'Humour Poétique. Bergman himself did not know that the film was represented at the festival:

'I was sitting in the shithouse reading the papers. And then I read: Swedish film gets prize at Cannes, Swedish film causes sensation, or something of that sort. What the devil film can that be, I wondered. When I saw it was Smiles of a Summer Night I couldn't believe my eyes.'

In 1973, Smiles of a Summer Night was reworked into a Broadway musical called A Little Night Music, with lyrics by Hugh Wheeler and music by Stephen Sondheim. It premiered in New York in February 1973 and later played at a number of Swedish venues. In 1977, the musical was made into a film in Austria (!), directed by Harold Prince and starring Elizabeth Taylor as Desirée Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck's character). More meritorious is A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy from 1982, Woody Allen's rework of Smiles of a Summer Night.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima, Bergman on Bergman (New York: Da Capo P., 1993).

Images/video

Collaborators

  • Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Ulla Jacobsson
  • Björn Bjelfvenstam
  • Eva Dahlbeck
  • Naima Wifstrand
  • Jarl Kulle
  • Margit Carlqvist
  • Åke Fridell
  • Harriet Andersson
  • Jullan Kindahl
  • Gull Natorp
  • Gunnar Nielsen
  • Bibi Andersson
  • Birgitta Valberg
  • Gösta Prüzelius
  • Svea Holst
  • Mona Malm
  • Lena Söderblom
  • Josef Norman
  • Yngve Nordwall
  • Hans Strååt
  • Lisa Lundholm
  • Börje Mellvig
  • David Erikson
  • Arne Lindblad
  • Einar Söderbäck
  • Sten Gester
  • Mille Schmidt
  • John Melin
  • Ulf Johanson
  • Anders Wulff
  • Viveca Heister
  • Birgitta Hellerstedt
  • P.A. Lundgren, Art Director
  • Åke Nilsson, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Lennart Wallin, Boom Operator
  • Gunnar Fischer, Director of Photography
  • Gustav Roger, Unit Manager
  • Ove Kant, Unit Manager
  • Oscar Rosander, Film Editor
  • Max Goldstein, Costume Designer
  • Per-Olof Pettersson, Production Mixer
  • Frédéric Chopin, Music Composer
  • Franz Liszt, Music Composer
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Music Composer
  • Erik Nordgren, Music Composer
  • Robert Schumann, Music Composer
  • Eskil Eckert-Lundin, Orchestra Leader
  • Allan Ekelund, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Lennart Olsson, Assistant Director
  • Katinka Faragó, Script Supervisor
  • Louis Huch, Still Photographer
  • Ingmar Bergman, Screenplay