On Midsummer's Eve, an illicit love blooms and then quickly withers on the vine between young lady of privilege Miss Julie (Björk) and Jean (Palme), a servant in her father's mansion. Jean has been attracted to Miss Julie since childhood, but strict class conventions have always prevented him from acting on his desires. Now as they impulsively step over the line, life becomes a lot more complicated, as Jean is already engaged, and Miss Julie's domineering father is on his way home. Via flashbacks, we get a flavor of past conditions which have contributed to the tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
Ingmar Bergman may be the king of Swedish cinema, but he borrowed much of his shimmering visual style from mentor Alf Sjöberg, whose elegant, innovative adaptation of August Strindberg's caustic play ranks among his most accomplished works. Björk, playing the high-born woman taught to hate men by her proto-feminist mother, is splendid opposite Palme's coarse, misanthropic valet. And Sjöberg's deep-focus imagery and unusual narrative approach, folding past and present into the same frame, bring an otherworldly vibe to all the gloomy reminiscences.