It’s easy to think of Ingmar Bergman as a poet of doom, preoccupied with the weightiest of philosophical questions, but there was a time when he just made frank explorations of sex. (Astonishingly, that time was in the early 1950s.)
Here, moony young man Harry (Lars Ekborg) becomes enamored with nubile Monika (Harriet Andersson) and spends an idyllic summer with her on a remote island. But the summer ends with the chill of hard reality. Monika is pregnant, and though Harry is happy to become a father, the free-spirited Monika isn’t ready to be tied down. A tragic separation is inevitable.
Andersson, with whom Bergman was involved off-camera, became an international star, thanks in no small part to the film’s brief nudity, which helped Swedish film gain a reputation abroad for licentiousness. The film made Bergman’s name, too, though there’s little else in his canon like its innocent exploration of sexuality followed by youthful disillusionment.