Plot: What’s it about?
At the estate of a prosperous count, the servants have an annual celebration they call Midsummer’s Eve Festival, a time of fun, games, and sometimes even romance. The count is not present for this year’s event, but his daughter Miss Julie (Anita Bjork) is and she decides to partake in the festivities. While she enjoys the festival, she strikes up a connection with Jean (Ulf Palme), one of the estate’s servants. Jean has hidden his feelings for Julie for years, but he has another concern, as his fiancee Kristen (Marta Dorff) also happens to work at the estate. As time passes and the love triangle continues, who will wind up on the outside and what will the repercussions be?
As based on August Strindberg’s famous play of the same name, Miss Julie is a look at the trials & tribulations of love, though with a wider scope than the source material. The play is confined to a single location, which would be troublesome for a cinematic version, so here the story takes place within the entire estate. This broader scale helps remove the “filmed play” feel and that is a positive here, giving the movie its own legs to stand on. If you’re after a faithful adaptation however, this Miss Julie might not be the ideal choice, in addition to the larger scale, some other liberties were also taken. Even so, the soul of the play is intact and Alf Sjoberg’s approach to the material is fresh and keeps your attention. The flashbacks expect you keep up for yourself, but it all works and Miss Julie is a more than solid picture. Criterion has pushed out an impressive disc to boot, so if you’re after some artful movie entertainment, Miss Julie is recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Miss Julie is presented in full frame, as intended. I knew this would look good, but it is even better than expected, some terrific work here indeed. I wouldn’t say this is a pristine, reference level treatment, but it is the best I’ve ever seen the flick look on home video, so I am most pleased. The print looks very clean, with minimal debris and other problems, so the image is allowed to shine and that it does. The black & white looks great and shows more sharpness than expected, which is always good news. Another great looking transfer from Criterion, who know how to handle these wonderful pictures.
Audio: How does it sound?
There just isn’t much to discuss here, as the included Swedish mono option is good, but won’t turn any heads, of course. This is a dialogue driven movie and that means mono is more than adequate, no real problems seem to surface here. I heard no hiss or distortion of any kind, which is good news with a flick of this age, to be sure. No errors in terms of dialogue either, which is crucial and all, since this is a movie dominated by dialogue, to be sure. Not much else to report to be honest, although optional English subtitles were included, should you need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The most substantial extra is an hour long television documentary about Miss Julie, the play, not the movie. The piece lets us inside a recent production of the material, while exploring the play and its writer. I found this to be a solid overall piece, with good information, but not stuff specific to this filmed version, of course. Peter Cowie is up next with a half hour video essay, which proves to be terrific, as one would expect from Cowie. His insight is broad, as he discusses the movie, the play, the cast & crew, and the film’s director in depth. As Cowie talks, footage and stills are presented, so the presentation is professional and polished. This disc also includes an interview with the director, and the film’s theatrical trailer.