This love drama, closely following the stage play by August Strindberg, portrays the affair that unfolds between the lady of the manor and her valet.
Julie, who wavers between effusiveness and melancholia, is mesmerized by Jean’s powerful and brutal masculinity. Although she often irritates Jean with her moody ways and domineering manner, he can feel the feminine weakness beneath her mask of condescending arrogance. At first, Julie is the stronger of the two, but then she is moved by his declaration of love and his confession that, even as a boy, he used to dream of her as an unattainable princess. Beneath the beguiling enchantment of the northern summer night, Julie surrenders to his passionate pleas. Jean’s bride, Christine, jealously observes their love play but maintains silence out of respect for her “mistress”.
Julie treats with contempt her own engagement to marry, because she has always found her groom – an important figure in society – boring. Following a heady Midsummer Eve, however, she starts having bitter doubts about Jean’s integrity, about his promises to make off with her to Italy and start a new life with her there. But just as Julie becomes aware of her lapse, she also finds the power to renounce Jean. She willingly accepts death to protect her father from disappointment, and, in sacrificing her life, shakes Jean to the point where he purges himself of his egomania and his uncontrolled emotions.
Translated from: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 1951, Programm,