Ingmar Bergman’s Summer With Monika, released in 1953, was the Swedish director’s first international hit. European cinema to the repressed North American viewer was a landscape of unfettered sexual liberties committed to celluloid, and this film fit the bill. In it, two young lovers, Monika and Harry, escape their dull home lives in Stockholm and spend the summer living on a boat in the Swedish archipelago, splashing about in tattered clothes or without clothes at all and living off the land and their love. The movie is like a simple love poem with a melancholic end. When Monika becomes pregnant their Edenic summer must end. Summer turns into fall, bucolic bliss turns into domesticity, youthful negligence turns into adult responsibilities, love turns into restlessness.
Monika flits about the seaside with a youthful carelessness, fresh and free in the open air. When she’s wearing clothes (which is most of the time despite the salacious marketing of the film), it’s as if she might as well not be wearing any anyway. When we speak of a certain air of effortlessness in dressing, Monika is the person we speak of. Little hot pants and a cardigan thrown on for practicality’s sake, for decency’s sake, a thoughtless act that is forgotten moments later as she’s whipping up coffee, sunning on the boat or smoking on the lap of her love. Clothing herself is merely a small chore but the look is ideal. The kind of lacking in self- awareness that is so girlish and summery translates flawlessly. But really, who can be bothered to care about clothes when there’s a warm breeze and a beautiful boy waiting on you.