Summer Interlude

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

Summer Interlude

There are five or six films in the history of the cinema which one wants to review simply by saying, 'It is the most beautiful of films.' Because there can be no higher praise ... I love Summer Interlude.

-Jean Luc Godard, Cahiers du Cinéma, July 1958.

I was reading this article on Lana Del Rey yesterday (which you should absolutely go and read now). And then it hit me why I love Ingmar Bergman's film, Summer Interlude (1951). I often come to an appreciation of things in a roundabout way, and from strange sources. The author of the article on Del Ray, Lindsay Zoladz, expresses what I essentially dislike about her form of music and 'style': a lack of living, substance, meaning and vulnerability. It is, to borrow from her own album title, totally 'dead'.

I don't know about you, but I've been noticing this oh-so-cool 'ironic' slant being used in various art forms: music, literature, film, and so on. Something which is totally vacuous and vapid has a self-conscious 'ironic' tag attached to it, and suddenly we're supposed to appreciate it because the artist/musician is aware of their own meaninglessness. And when you add the extra descriptive word of 'postmodernist' irony, well then, it must be cool.

I just don't buy it, I need something else, something that tries to say something new or just anything at all, to appreciate a song, a style, a piece of work. I don't particularly like the bodily scrutiny which Del Ray has been subjected to as I think it's obviously sexist in tone. But I do agree with those critics who examine her music and find something missing. That missing element for me is primarily vulnerability.

What does this have to do with the film, Summer Interlude? Well, plenty actually. This is a film that is all about learning to be vulnerable. When I first saw it, I was seduced by its outward beauty. Its style and its clever thematic uses of the black and white aesthetic are things which I blogged about in my analysis of the film for Behind Ballet. But now I'm not so sure this is the most interesting thing about the film. I think Bergman's genius instead lies in his ability to skillfully merge this style with something profoundly human: the need to be raw, unprotected by a beautiful coolness, to be, as I said, vulnerable. Because that's what ultimately brings people together.

In Bergman's film of a cool ballerina whose perfect exterior is shattered by a tale of thwarted love, you'll find an affirmation of life as a precarious, but worthy state. In Del Ray's music, I find an affirmation of death as a cool exterior. And I will always favour a mature idealism over a twee cynicism.

24 comments:

nancy said...

"And I will always favour a mature idealism over a twee cynicism." You have said it perfectly here - I could not agree more.

your writing is beautiful, and so are these stills.

megan said...

the images in this post are so beautiful, hila. i keep looking at them over and over again. and that last line of the last paragraph is perfect.

Sally said...

Looks like the kind of film I would be completely, utterly absorbed by (and gladly so) on a lonely day.

Tana said...

I adore Bergman`s films. My love started with "Fanny och Alexander" and every his film has something catchy. Today i watched his 'Wild Strawberries'.

etre-soi said...

Well you said it all Hila :) Yesterday I was listening to the album and was disapointed, it sounds like an old album from the 90's with bad samplers and the lyrics like " take a walk on the wild side", " 1 for the money 2 for the show" or " "I will love you till the end of time...." it's already been done...oh well, I liked "born to die" and "video games" but seeing her sing live just made me think of a play doll a little bit robotic that doesn't really match what she had showed us on her videos or even her music... oh well ! It's empty !

Rambling Tart said...

I've never seen this film, but the images you chose are haunting and draw me in, wanting to know the story.

Nancy Baric *negfilm said...

I am happy that Bergman's Summer Interlude is being introduced/discussed here (as well as Gunnar Fischer's beautiful cinematography)...wonderful film! And perhaps this is an unfair comparison since Bergman was, in my opinion, a genius in the art world. Although some would probably beg to differ.
But I wonder sometimes re: vulnerability and emotions...I feel it is more of an individual response vs a collective one. I don't know how universal it is? I can think of a few examples, of contemporary artists, who in interviews constantly discuss their emotions and the emotion in their work...yet I as a viewer in some cases, only see a pre-text to an emotion, at best. I don't know. But food for thought...which is always a great thing!!! Merci!!

Kate said...

Wow, I previously could not put my finger on what annoyed me about her music (beyond how watching her sing making me so uncomfortable I can barely sit still) and you've totally hit the nail on the head, Hila.

Niina said...

This combination of topics is very interesting. You know I love Bergman´s films perhaps for the same reasons but also for the simple reason they´re made not so far from where I live.

I am fascinated with Del Rey´s "Video games" but it has led us theorize it a lot at home because I distinctly recognize something troubling there, nevetheless feel drawn to it somehow. The first time I heard the song I was certain a whole album of it would ruin everything. And it did. When the album became available in spotify I couldn´t listen it throughly. Huge disappointment I knew it would be. As you said it´s lacking and the cover is giving me the creeps.

I think I should trust more on my instincts because at the same I was listening to Video games I heard something that doesn´t go with my drift.

And Hila, keep on mixing with these topics! I like it alot.

MissJW said...

Great post, as always. Wonderful stills. The last line is the icing on the cake: "And I will always favour a mature idealism over a twee cynicism."

MadeleineSwellNY said...

Wonderful insight. Never seen "Summer Interlude" but I must watch it. I could certainly learn to be a little more vulnerable :)
No, but honestly I love what you wrote because it is so true.
-Madeleine

Ana said...

I've read another article about Lana del Rey. Her coolness is completely planned, studied and yes, I agree with you, she lacks vulnerability (among other things).

I have to see that Godard film. Already on the hunt! x

Ana said...

And yes yes yes... amazing stills :)

hungryandfrozen said...

Ohhh, the ballet scenes alone make me wonder how I've come this far without ever seeing this film, and also make me want to see it immediately.

Will read the article!

B said...

The idea of vulnerability is so true and appealing to me that I could literally take hold of your hands and dance with you, Hila. It is an underlying principal in my judgement of many things. Because vulnerability equates to authenticity and honesty. And that's two things art should always be.

Christine said...

Interesting post. Though unfortunately I'm unfamiliar with Del Ray's music. But I will definitely have to check out Summer Interlude this weekend.

Beatrice said...

I'm swedish and this is actually my all time favorite Bergman movie. Gunnar Fischer's cinematography is breathtaking, especially the scenes from the archipelago...the play of light is everywhere...ahh swedish summer I miss you.

Hila said...

Nancy: Thank you!

Megan: I keep scrolling up and down this post too, I love this film.

Sally: most certainly, although it's a bit melancholic.

Tana: Wild Strawberries is fantastic.

etre-soi/Sofia: yes, a robotic doll seems to summarise her - there is something disturbingly 'unfeeling' and robotic about her.

Rambling Tart: I think you'll like it.

Nancy: yes, maybe it is an unfair comparison :) Although I wasn't making this comparison to be deliberately unfair, more as a way to explain why I appreciate a particular aspect of the film. A lot of the time, I appreciate certain things after thinking about things that I respond to negatively.

Kate: Thanks! Everyone's talking about her live performance - I didn't see it, her videos were enough for me to get the gist of her. You're right, there is something uncomfortable about her.

Niina: yes, I know what you mean - I trust my instincts when it comes to these things too.

MissJW and Madeleine: thanks!

Ana: perhaps too studied and planned, and hence, a bit forced and uninvolving?

hungryandfrozen: yes, the ballet scenes are divine (and clever).

B: I totally agree.

Christine: I know you'll appreciate this film Christine.

Beatrice: oh I know, I know, everything about this film is just sublime.

Tracey said...

I love the images you've chosen here ... it looks and sounds like a wonderful film. I've never seen Summer Interlude, but I'll certainly be adding it to my list ... I love so many films from that era.

PS. I'm a bit over that cool irony angle ... it smacks of laziness and insincerity (even though I know that's partly the intention). I need substance most definitely.

odessa said...

Ah..such beautiful stills. Why have I not heard of this movie? Definitely adding it to my Netflix cue.

Now off to read that article about Lana del Ray. Haven't heard her music but I'm curious.

Hila said...

Tracey: I so agree Tracey, it really does smack of laziness, and an annoying brand of hipster 'cool'.

Odessa: I'm surprised this film is not well-known, and that it was so hard for me to track down a DVD copy of it. It's a classic, it deserves more recognition. I hope you enjoy it!

Maša said...

I like modernism and bergman is one of my favorite directors. possibly because i'm interested in human psychology and he could capture those existential moments so beautifully. i've got no idea who del ray is but "supposed to be" irony annoys me. I'm not able to make friends with hipsters or anyone who has a strong relationship with stuff (in a narcissist and consumerist way) but I'm a bit afraid I sometimes look like one. :)

Baroness E said...

I was going to say 'amen' to your last sentence, but i was beaten to it already (in different words) by your other reader. this just proves how right you are.

Hila said...

Masa: I'll never be cool enough to be a hipster :)

Baroness E: but your 'amen' is much appreciated!