“Recently I’ve had the weirdest dreams — as if I must tell myself something I won’t listen to when I’m awake.”
An elderly professor (Victor Sjostrom) travelling to an awards ceremony reflects upon the joys and pains of his past, attempting to understand why he is seen by many as cold and unforgiving.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Character Arc
- Elderly People
- Flashback Films
- Ingmar Bergman Films
- Max von Sydow Films
- Road Trip
- Scandinavian Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately labels this enduring “journey of self-knowledge” by master writer/director Ingmar Bergman as “cinematic storytelling at its best” — a beloved film which “defies criticism” given how great its “impact [has] been on ‘art’-film lovers, film students, and filmmakers.” He notes that watching it is akin to being “with Scrooge on a look at Christmas Past“, as the film’s protagonist (Victor Sjostrom, giving a “captivating performance” as “cold” professor Isak Borg) slowly “begins to display traces of humanity and compassion”. Indeed, it’s impossible not to be moved by Borg’s haunting process of self-discovery, as he’s forced (through insistent dreams and visions) to acknowledge aspects of his personality that have caused him unspoken grief over the years.
Wild Strawberries is, in essence, an elaborate “flashback film”, yet with a strategic thematic twist, given that Borg is privy to life-altering scenes he could never have seen in real life. Indeed, Bergman daringly plays with the viewer’s notion of cinematic continuity and integrity in a way that audiences at the time found either frustrating or thrilling (Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, for instance, referred to the film as “so thoroughly mystifying that we wonder whether Mr. Bergman himself knew what he was trying to say”.) Peary, however, argues in retrospect that “rather than being as intimidating as later Bergman films, [Wild Strawberries] is simple enough on the surface for viewers to have the energy to dig for the inner meanings and complexities” — and it’s certainly the best film to introduce to budding film fanatics interested in exploring Bergman’s esteemed oeuvre.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Victor Sjostrom as Isak Borg
- Ingrid Thulin as Marianne (Borg’s daughter-in-law)
- The opening nightmare sequence
- Gunnar Fischer’s cinematography
Yes, as an undisputed foreign classic by a master director.
- Foreign Gem
- Important Director
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)