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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Swedish Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Video introduction to the film by director Ingmar Bergman
  • New video conversation with historian Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner (producer, Fanny and Alexander)
  • Swedish theatrical trailer

Smiles of a Summer Night


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Ulla Jacobsson , Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Margit Carlqvist, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jarl Kulle , Åke Fridell, Bibi Andersson
1955 | 108 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #237
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 25, 2004
Review Date: July 13, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

After fifteen films of mostly local acclaim, the 1956 prize-winning comedy Smiles of a Summer Night at last ushered in an international audience for director Ingmar Bergman. Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, four women and four men attempt to juggle the laws of attraction amidst their daily bourgeois life. When a weekend in the country brings them all face to face, the women ally to force the men's hands in their matters of the heart, exposing their pretentions and insecurities along the way. Chock full of flirtatious propositions and sharp-witted wisdom delivered by such legends of the Swedish screen as Gunnar Björnstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Ulla Jacobsson, Smiles of a Summer Night is one of film history's great tragicomedies, a bittersweet view of the transience of human carnality.

Forum members rate this film 7.6/10

 

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PICTURE

Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night is presented on this dual-layer DVD in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The standard-definition presentation comes from a high-definition restoration, scanned from a print struck from the 35mm original camera negative. Because of the aspect ratio the image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Like a lot of the older DVD presentations from Criterion’s Bergman releases of the time this presentation manages to hold up surprisingly well. Outside of the usual limitations of the format (compression issues, jagged edges, and the like) the picture is sharp most of the time, with cleanly defined edges and a shocking ability to cleanly render some of the smaller details and patterns found throughout; even grain doesn’t look too bad. The image can be a bit dark (remedied with subsequent Blu-ray releases) but contrast is otherwise nice with decent grayscale and strong blacks.

Where the image falters is in the condition of the print. While it’s apparent restoration work has been done there are still a number of specs that rain through, along with tram lines, pulsing, and other fluctuations. These are still minor problems overall and never detract from the viewing, but they’re there.

Ultimately I would direct everyone to the newer Blu-ray options (either the individual Blu-ray or Criterion’s Bergman box set) but the image here still looks strong, even upscaled.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono presentation features some obvious background noise at times but overall it’s sharp and clear, with minimal distortion and no serious flaws like drops or pops. It sounds its age but it’s perfectly fine.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

A lower-tier title it only comes with a handful of supplements, starting with a 4-minute introduction by Ingmar Bergman, filmed by director Marie Nyeröd in 2003, filmed for television as introductions for airings of his films (and Criterion has been putting these on their Bergman releases since). He briefly talks about his surprise at the film’s success, which also showed at Cannes without his knowledge (he found out about it while sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper.) In turn the film’s success, after a series of flops, led to him receiving more freedom to make the films he wanted. Not overly insightful because of its short runtime but I enjoy getting whatever interview I can with the director.

The final feature is a 17-minute discussion between film scholar Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner. Not the overly insightful piece I had been hoping for but it has some value. The two talk about Bergman’s career up to that point (not great) and then how this film helped him break out of Sweden, his stature amongst cinephiles cemented after The Seventh Seal, which he was able to make because of the success of Smiles of a Summer Night. Donner talks a little about Bergman’s personal life at the time, as well as problems in his professional relationships, and the two also talk about Summer Night and the film’s cast. Not bad but as the disc’s meatier supplement it’s lacking. The disc also still comes with short bios for each participant.

A 2-minute theatrical trailer then closes the disc.

The included booklet then features a reprint of Pauline Kael’s review for the film, followed by an essay from John Simon, explaining how the film offered a defining moment for Bergman, who was dealing with a number of personal issues at the time (with Bergman even thinking that offing himself was a viable option).

Not loaded but the supplements provide a decent look into how the film launched Bergman onto the world stage.

3/10

CLOSING

Not a bad release in the end but I would easily direct everyone towards one of the Blu-ray options, which offer a far better audio/video presentation.


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