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Robert Fuller (Tore)

Sieghardt Rupp (Aslak Broderson)

Ruth Maria Kubitschek  (Karin)

Carl Lange  (Arne Arndahl)

Anita Höfer  (Selmy)

Liane Hielscher (Astrid)

Marianne Hoffmann (Christine)

Edith Hancke (Mrs. Nilsson)

Release Date: October 19, 1967

Director: Paul May

Screenplay: Rolf Olsen and Kurt Nachmann

Camera: Hans Matula

Editor: Arnd Heyne

Music: Claudius Alzner

Run time: 85 minutes


(Midsummer Night)

The deceptively idyllic Mittsommernacht is a cozy fit into the popular Heimatfilm (“homeland”) genre produced in post-war Germany, Switzerland and Austria from the 1940s to 1970s. Beautifully shot and fondly showcasing the unspoiled panoramas of Styria in southeastern Austria, the film was one of Bavarian Director Paul May’s last feature films. He continued as a notable television director until his death in 1976.

Robert Fuller plays the agile, desirable and über-heroic lead in the picture on the strength of his phenomenal popularity in Germany as Jess Harper in the series Am Fuß der blauen Berge (Laramie).

A mysterious stranger awakens on a lush green Norwegian hillside, gathers his belongings and rifle and treks across the rolling landscape. After ducking another traveler, a one-armed man, the Stranger comes upon an empty cabin and makes himself at home. He has narrowly missed meeting Arne, the volatile patriarch of a family of two daughters and the dubious owner of a saw mill.

Meanwhile at the saw mill, headstrong elder daughter Astrid escapes an attempted assault by the lecherous hired hand Eric, who quits and rides off. Astrid finds no sympathy from her housekeeper, Karin, who chastises Astrid for having a superiority complex and not putting out. Sweet younger daughter Christine tries to intervene.

At the farm and fueled by alcohol, enraged Arne decides to take his guns to town to save the honour of his daughter – against the wishes of housekeeper Karin who clearly does other things for Arne besides the cleaning.

Eric is at the Inn, drinking and commiserating with other barflies about the crazy family at the sawmill.

In the nearby general store, Mysterious Stranger is buying food and rifle cartridges.

Arne storms in threatening to kill Eric, but Mysterious Stranger stuns the townspeople by stopping Arne with a show of superior strength. Christine, who has driven her father to town, gazes at the man with admiration. And then he disappears.

After a night of drunken revelry, Arne comes home in a wind-storm to find wolves have killed a calf. He heads to the hills and is attacked by the wolves.

Mysterious Stranger, who has been leisurely cooking in Arne’s cabin, hears the howling and rushes out to save Arne. Back in the cabin, they recognize one another from the Inn and Arne convinces the stranger to come work at his farm.

All seems peaceful at Svytelma farm where Tore (whose name was discovered by the gossipy Greek Chorus of townspeople) has worked for three months and has not run away. Astrid reads her forbidden books, Christine lays in bed dreaming of  Tore, and Karin is…beguiled. She sneaks naked into his bed one night, begs him to father a child with her and pretend the child is Arne’s. Her half-baked plan falls apart when Tore brusquely declares his love for another. Astrid, who has been eavesdropping, confronts dejected Karin, innocent Christine meanders into the hall, Tore enters the fray and shatters all the sexual tension by telling them he has stayed too long.

The next day, Tore begins trekking through the mountains. He is once again waylaid by catastrophe plus feats of heroism - he must rescue a baby in a runaway carriage about to careen over a waterfall. Doe-eyed Christine is there to welcome wet Tore, and the oddly stoic baby, back to shore.

Things are unravelling at the saw mill. Karin and Astrid argue about telling Arne of the failed seduction. In the nick of time, Astrid’s apron comes undone and she gets caught in the saw! Sadistic Karin saves Astrid from a head-splitting when she hears lovestruck Christine gushing about more Tore heroism.

At the Mittsommernacht festival, traditionally attired Tore has a wreath of flowers to place on one of the many girls who want him. To Astrid’s sorrow, he chooses Christine. They cheerily jump through fire together and romance blooms, until a villainous shadow from Tore’s past, Aslak, shows up threatening to expose him as a murderer unless Tore pays him off.

Tore doesn’t know the extortionist is actually in cahoots with Karin and agrees to meet him in the hunting cabin. But first he must confess his fugitive past to Arne who is more affronted somebody slept with his daughter.

Arne backhands him and Tore bolts when he hears Astrid has gone to the cabin alone.

Just as Aslak is attempting to rape Astrid, Tore charges through the door and a raucous fistfight ensues. Beaten Aslak is revealed as the murderous coward. So he runs away.

Tore goes after him, and Arne, who has met breathless Astrid coming down the mountain, goes after Tore. A chase through the rugged terrain ends at a wooden suspension bridge where Tore and Aslak fight on the cliff. No match for Tore’s fury, Aslak escapes, very briefly -  to the rickety bridge. Which immediately breaks and hurtles him screaming to his dastardly end.

At the farm, Arne’s failed “housekeeper” Karin snipes at Astrid to do her own cleaning.

Christine and Tore run into each other’s arms and kiss passionately in the mist of the waterfall.

The End

Review by Belinda New

In Belgium, the film was released under the title Passion d'une nuit d'été [The Passion of a Summer Night]. In Turkey, Mittsommernacht was released as Kristin: Oduncunun Kizi [Kristin The Woodcutter’s Daughter].