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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Video introduction to the film by director Ingmar Bergman
  • Video conversation between Bergman scholar Peter Cowie and writer JŲrn Donner, executive producer of Fanny and Alexander
  • Original theatrical trailer

Smiles of a Summer Night

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

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

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #237
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 3, 2011
Review Date: May 3, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

After fifteen films that received mostly local acclaim, the 1955 comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) at last ushered in an international audience for Ingmar Bergman. In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women of different classes attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men's hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Chock-full of flirtatious propositions and sharp witticisms delivered by such Swedish screen legends as Gunnar BjŲrnstrand and Harriet Andersson, Smiles of a Summer Night is one of cinema's great erotic comedies.

Forum members rate this film 6.7/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Smiles of a Summer Night makes its Blu-ray debut from Criterion, presented in a new 1080p/24hz transfer in its original aspect ratio of about 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc.

First off itís obviously not the same transfer used for the DVD edition Criterion released back in 2004. That one, while good, presented far more instances of damage in the source than what we get here, the new presentation removing nearly all blemishes, at least the more noticeable ones like hairs and larger scratches. This transfer also looks a little bit brighter, though I canít help feeling it may have been a little over done and in reality should probably fall somewhere between what we get here and the DVDís darker presentation. But the gray levels are perfect and shadows are adequately presented.

The image is also quite a bit sharper with more prominent finer details, and the filmís grain structure is intact. The bit rate is very high, staying above 35mbps throughout most of the film, though considering the film is just about the only item on this disc it should be too big a surprise Criterion has maxed it out in this area.

In all we get a lovely new presentation of the film thatís not simply an HD presentation of the old transfer.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed 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 lossless PCM mono track offers a slight improvement as well, delivering a cleaner track overall. The previous DVD still presented some discernable background noise that can still be noticeable here in places but not to the same level. Dialogue is clean and the music can sound a little rough but overall itís a perfectly adequate mono presentation.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion has ported everything over from the original DVD, not adding anything. This unfortunately means that now for a higher premium price (MSRP of $39.95 for this new Blu-ray, compared to the $29.95 of the original DVD) we still only get barely 20-minutes worth of material.

First is a 4-minute introduction by Ingmar Bergman, filmed by director Marie NyerŲd in 2003 (I believe a series of these were shot for his films as introductions for a television program.) He briefly talks about his surprise at the filmís 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 filmís 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 JŲrn Donner. Not the overly insightful piece I had been hoping for but it has some value. The two talk about Bergmanís 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 Bergmanís personal life at the time, as well as problems in his professional relationships, and the two also talk about Summer Night and the filmís cast. Not bad but as the discís meatier supplement itís lacking. The disc also still comes with short bios for each participant.

A 2-minute theatrical trailer then closes the disc.

The booklet is pretty much the same as the DVDís, yet again presenting a nice essay by John Simon about Bergmanís career up to this point and the film itself, followed by Pauline Kaelís review of the film. Everything looks the same at a quick glance but the presentation order is different: Kaelís review now appears after Simonís essay.

Not a surprise that the supplements are so scant here considering I figured Criterion was simply just porting everything over from the DVD, but the fact the disc is being released at a premium price (with recycled supplements) makes them all the more unsatisfying.

3/10

CLOSING

It looks great and the boost in picture quality is well worth the upgrade but I would say only if you can find the disc on sale, preferably during a 50% off sale. Iím happy to see Criterion is showing interest in digging through some of their more minor DVD releases (and Iím referring to the actual release, not the film itself) to put out on Blu-ray but the high price is still a little absurd, and makes it hard to fully recommend currently.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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