Summer with Monika

Sommaren med Monika
Sommaren-med-Monika (Summer with monika).jpg
Original Swedish film poster
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Allan Ekelund
Written by Ingmar Bergman
Per Anders Fogelström (book)
Starring Harriet Andersson
Lars Ekborg
Music by Erik Nordgren
Les Baxter
Cinematography Gunnar Fischer
Release date
  • 9 February 1953 (1953-02-09)
  • 1 September 1955 (1955-09-01)
Running time
96 min
Country Sweden
Language Swedish

Summer with Monika (Swedish: Sommaren med Monika) is a 1953 Swedish romance film directed by Ingmar Bergman, based on Per Anders Fogelström's 1951 novel of the same title. It was controversial abroad at the time of its first release for its frank depiction of nudity and, along with the film One Summer of Happiness from the year before, directed by Arne Mattsson, it helped to create the reputation of Sweden as a sexually liberated country.

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 continue to work together, even after their romantic relationship had ended, in films like Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through a Glass Darkly, and Cries and Whispers.


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 happily accepts responsibility and settles down with Monika and their child; he gets a real job and goes to night school 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 leaves town for work and comes home a day early to find his wife with another man. They get a divorce and Harry is left behind with custody of their daughter, June, to raise alone.



Earlier that year (1955), a high-profile article "Sin & Sweden" was written in Time magazine, about living conditions in a secularized Swedish society. The debate that followed, in the midst of the Cold War, was marked by conservative hostility to anything resembling even the slightest socialism. This and above all commercial interests contributed to the exploitation market's interest in the concept of Swedish sin.[1] [2]

Two small promotional flyers for the American presentation of the film.

Exploitation film presenter Kroger Babb purchased the US rights to the film in 1955. To increase excitement for the film, he edited it down to 62 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.[3]

The exploitation version of Bergman’s film successfully played rural drive-in theatres for years, unaffected by the fact that a year later it was re-contracted, this time with Janus Films, to let the uncut, subtitled version play at art-theaters as well, thus available to two different types of American audiences simultaneously. [4]


Summer with Monika has a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]


Summer with Monika was the first Bergman film seen by Woody Allen:[6]

"The first Bergman I ever saw was that one because there was talk in the neighborhood that there was a nude scene. This was unheard of in any American film, that level of advancement. It’s so funny to think of it that way. I saw it, and it was a very, very interesting film apart from the utterly benign nude moment. A short time after that, I just happened to see Sawdust and Tinsel. I had no idea it was done by Bergman – that is, the person who’d done Summer with Monika — and it was just a fabulous movie. I was riveted in my seat by it all. I thought to myself, 'Who is this guy?'”

See also


  1. ^ Brown, Joe David (25 April 1955). "Sin & Sweden". Time magazine. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  2. ^ Arnberg, Klara. "Synd på export". Historisk Tidskrift (in Swedish). 129:3-2009: 467–486.
  3. ^ Eric Schaefer, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919–1959 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999; ISBN 0-8223-2374-5).
  4. ^ a b Stevenson, Jack (2010). Scandinavian blue : the erotic cinema of Sweden and Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 16–19. ISBN 978-0-7864-4488-5. OCLC 449283851.
  5. ^ "Summer with Monika (1953)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  6. ^ Kilday, Gregg (4 February 2011). "Woody Allen Pays Tribute to Ingmar Bergman: 'His Approach Was Poetic'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 October 2013.

External links