“Let me mourn my youth alone.”
I have never had the feeling of being truly in love with someone. I do not want any sympathy or pity or comments. It is not something I ever went looking for. I think I am the only one not worried about my love life. My parents and even some other relatives are always trying to set me up with people. Even my ninety-eight year old great-grandmother has resorted to asking about my love life! There are times where I wonder what it would be like to be so deeply in love with someone and having that person be there for you all the time. I have had boyfriends before, only two, and they were both almost ten years ago (NOT AT THE SAME TIME!) but they were big babies and not very fun to be with. I watch so many romantic films especially from Hollywood’s Golden Age and a lot of my friends and cousins are engaged or married that I have started to become a little envious and even find myself wanting a boyfriend. I have NEVER been that type of person to want a boyfriend, just to put it out there.
As I have gotten older the more romantic/dramatic films I see that deal with love, especially young love make me wish I had a significant other. Since I am behind the times with the dating aspect of my life I feel like I am still in that bracket of young love. Or maybe it is because I refuse to accept that I am pushing thirty and still consider myself to be younger. Whatever it is whenever I see young couples in a film it makes me a little sad that I have not had a romance like that in my life. That could be all the garbage rom coms and dramas have instilled in me over the years talking though (does anyone truly realize the impact rom coms and dramas have had over people more specifically women when it comes to their ideal of love?) One film that made me feel that way is Ingmar Bergman’s Summer Interlude.
At an opera house there is a dress rehearsal for the ballet Swan Lake. The theater is a buzz with nervous energy and excitement for opening night the following day. A package arrives for the lead dancer Marie. A reporter named Nystrom says he knows Marie and will take it to her dressing room but one of the theater workers knows all the tricks the press use to get a scoop and will not let the young man in. The theater worker brings Marie the package in her dressing room. She does not look to happy to see the notebook within the package.
Marie does not come out of her dressing room. Everyone is talking about how there is something wrong with her. She does wind up coming down to rehearsals but she still seems on edge. During the rehearsals a light fuse breaks and everyone has to report back that night after the light is fixed.
Back in her dressing room sitting in front of her mirror Marie opens the notebook. It is a diary of a boy she knew years before. She does downstairs looking for David Nystrom the reporter who was looking for her. They meet outside. They are seeing each other. David took the night off so they could be together before the opening of the show. He is upset when he hears that Marie has to rehearse that night. He leaves in a huff to go off to work. Marie decides to go on a ferry. On the ferry she sees a priest she has not seen in years.
The ferry takes Marie to a small island. On the island Marie sees a woman walking down an empty, dreary road and follows her for a short time. Marie goes up to a small beach house and sits on the bed. She remembers back to a few years before. Marie narrates that at the summer she is remember was a time of happiness, sadness, and disappointment.
Maria did not have a good show and she is in a flurry of anger. She does not recognize a young man waiting for her after the show. The next day they meet on a boat and he tells her he likes her and has seen her show quite a bit. His name is Henrick and they both discover they are going to the same island for the summer. Sometime later Henrick and Marie see each other again. There is immediate chemistry between them. He winds up confessing that he is afraid to die and be alone and she tells him that she is there for him.
That same week Marie’s aunt and uncle come to their house on the island. Erland and his wife Elizabeth are not really Marie’s aunt and uncle they are friends of the family. Erland lusts after the beautiful Marie. He tells her that one day he hopes they can be together. Henrick had been lurking in the bushes and overhears what Erland tells Marie. When Marie goes to Henrick later on she sees he is mad at her and when she hears why she starts laughing at him.
Henrick and Marie become inseparable that summer. They truly, desperately love each other. Erland notices this and becomes jealous but that does not bother either Marie or Henrick.
In the present, Marie goes up to Erland’s house. She did not realize he would be home and is surprised to see him. He asks her about the package she received. He confesses he had the diary for all those years after he had taken it out of Henrick’s hospital room. Marie is disgusted with him and cannot believe she ever let him touch her.
After some more reminiscing, it revealed that three days before their summer together ended, Marie and Henrick were near the lake talking about their future. Henrick jumped into the lake. She screams when she sees he did not land in the water right. He comes out of the lake barely hanging on for life. At the hospital Henrick dies. Marie feels like her life is over now that the love of her life is no longer with her. For months after that Marie walks around as if she were a zombie. Erland tells her that she needs to build walls around her to make the pain go away and he can help her.
Back in the present, after rehearsal Marie stays in her dressing room in her costume as if she did not know how to proceed with her life. The stage manager comes in and tells her that there are times in life when people see themselves clearly like they never have before and that this is her moment of clarity. David finally manages to make it to the dressing room. He sees Marie and the stage manager sitting together and gets a bit jealous. He is upset that she is not fully committed to their relationship. She tries to explain that he will never understand what is going on with her. She accidentally calls him Henrick. At that moment she decides to give David Henrick’s diary so he can understand her better.
Marie, in a voice over, says that she feels like crying but she cannot do so and that for the first time in a long time she feels happy.
Ingmar Bergman made a beautiful film. Through his direction you feel all the love between Henrick and Marie, you feel Marie’s anguish and sadness and need for someone to understand her, you feel every emotion pouring out of the characters, you even feel the sun warming your skin on the lake. Bergman’s direction puts you right in the film. The most beautiful scene to me was when Marie walks out of the theater after Henrik dies. Her facial expression is devastating. Bergman keeps the camera on Marie long enough for you to feel terrible for her and eventually feel almost uncomfortable as he lets the camera linger on her face for long. I loved every moment of that scene because of the direction and all the emotions and heartache you feel. This is one time where I feel that a film being shot in black and white really enhanced the film all around. It made the whole thing more beautiful.
Summer Interlude was a great film. If there was ever a film that made me truly genuinely envious of never experiencing young love or just the feeling of being loved by another person it is Summer Interlude. The film is absolutely worth seeing. It is one of very few films I can say is complete perfection.