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Wild Strawberries Pros: - Fantastic Acting - Amazing Directing - Phenomenal Screenplay - Outstanding Cinematography - Magnificent Editing - Brilliant Pacing - Intriguing Storytelling - Visually Stunning - Great Sound Design - Terrific Musical Score Cons: - None Overall Grade: A+ (10/10)
A roadtrip movie about a successful man looking back on a life of regrets. Older audience members might be able to relate, younger audience members could learn from it, and the middle-aged might be terrified to see how fast life speeds past.
A poetic blend of romping through a day in the life of an old man and his striking dreams, this is Ingmar Bergman at a place where character, ideology and humor are more prominent than a unique plot.
A moving tribute to the aging among us.
Ingmar Bergman directed Wild Strawberries (1957) with a tender affection for the plight of the elderly. He allows for reminiscing on the past with old memories brought about by Bergman's surreal dream sequences. I marvel at Bergman's creative visual aesthetic. He constantly keeps you entertained and questioning what you are watching with each new scene.
Bergman displays his masterful craftsmanship as a director with clever dream sequences brought to life by clever editing and wondrous cinematography. The edit to the car wreck is so sudden it appears before the audience as the actual crash happens before the characters. The fades to the childhood house of old is so beautiful as Bergman depicts pastoral scenes of serenity of happiness next to uncertainty and adolescence. I adored the hard cuts to Isak's face as he discovers his son hates him, his wife cheated on him, and his first love left him. Bergman holds no punches and goes for the most emotionally poignant moments in Wild Strawberries.
The gorgeous Swedish setting is matched by the beauty of how Bergman uses the camera lens. From slowly panning down a building hallway or following Isak down a deserted street, Bergman finds the most intriguing perspective for each shot. I particularly loved Isak watching his wife's infidelity behind a wooden pillar and the scene towards the end by the lake. They are picturesque in their quiet serenity, but convey a much deeper emotion alongside their striking visual nature.
Furthermore, Ingmar Bergman proves his lovely pen work as Wild Strawberries' writer. His contemplation on happiness, love, marriage, death and many more themes made Wild Strawberries his most profound cinematic experience yet. Bergman brings a thoughtfulness and truthfulness to his words. His themes are universal as are the multiple perspectives of generations he wrote into Wild Strawberries. We see people of all ages experiencing life as Isak is remembering it.
Speaking of Isak Borg, his character is so movingly portrayed by legendary director Victor Sjostrom. His demonstration of age's wisdom and care is astonishing. Sjostrom brings a humanity and empathy to his role as Isak. You really come to care about this old man and his retrospective. Sjostrom's final role is admirable as it is he who made Bergman's Wild Strawberries shine with emotional depth during Isak's character study.
I must mention the dual role of the adorable and lovely Bibi Andersson. She plays Isak's former flame Sara as well as the lively hitchhiker Sara. She is so sweet and endearing and adds such youthful life and excitement to Wild Strawberries. She is a phenomenal actress displaying the deep regret of the past Sara's indiscretions to the young Sara's uncertainty in choosing a love. Her sweet goodbye to Isak is unforgettable as is her bright smile. Bibi Andersson could play it all!
Similarly, the stunning actress Ingrid Thulin plays Marianne Borg. Her convincing depiction of a miserable wife hoping for a child and happiness is quite touching. I found myself liking Thulin more and more as Wild Strawberries continued. Her speeches to Isak about her husband not liking him and not desiring a child are captivating to say the least. Thulin was a remarkable actress!
Lastly, there are to neat cameo roles that I have to touch upon as Max von Sydow plays an engaging gas attendant for a scene. Sydow shows his acting prowess as you remember him even though he's just a cameo in a short scene, but he manages to convey his character's respect and love to Isak. You even learn how great a doctor Isak is in this scene. It's a nice uplifting sequence, if brief. On the other hand, Gunnar Bjornstrand plays Isak's horrid son Evald Borg. His stern rejection of parenthood is shocking as is his hesitation towards his father and his wife. He gives a great supporting role in Wild Strawberries.
In all, Wild Strawberries is the most moving film I have seen in a long time. It captures the fears of aging and dying, while showing sincere empathy for a life well lived. Watch Wild Strawberries!
Wild Strawberries isn’t exactly my style of film. It’s an examination of a character as he interacts with random people on a road trip, and starts to reflect on his life. I thought there were moments full of emotion, and I appreciated the shifting relationship with his daughter-in-law. However the strange kids he meets did nothing for me, and the bickering couple were even worse. I realize that the intent was to use people in the present to get him reflecting on his past, but I was more interested in just watching his flashbacks. The whole film was paced slowly and had many quiet contemplative moments, just as you might expect from Ingmar Bergman. That style of film has never clicked with me unless I’m very deeply connected with the characters. Since Dr. Borg starts the film as a stoic man, it was tough for me to find that deep connection. I wasn’t completely put off by Wild Strawberries, and I could see what it was trying to do. While it isn’t my kind of thing, at least I could see why others love it.
Having seen Wild Strawberries many times before, I decided to watch the new blu-ray version with film critic Peter Cowie's audio commentary turned on. I don't know that it offered many more insights or facts beyond what I already knew - and it may have impacted on my appreciation of the film this time (too distracting). That said, Wild Strawberries is still undoubtedly a masterpiece from film titan Ingmar Bergman. His regular troupe of actors is here: Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Naima Wifstrand - but the lead role goes to Victor Sjöström, then 79-years-old and a fabled film director and star actor in his own right (known most famously for The Phantom Carriage, 1921, He Who Gets Slapped, 1924, and The Wind, 1928). Sjöström plays Isak Borg (note the initials), a retired professor of medicine who will travel from Stockholm to Lund over the course of the film (a 14 hour car journey) in order to receive an honorary degree. The journey becomes a psychic exploration of Borg's past and principally his relationships with women; it seems that his has been a lonely existence, possibly due to his own cold selfish nature, which may in turn be a result of his relations with his parents (an autobiographical note from Bergman himself). This subtext is told primarily through dream sequences that offer some glimpses of reality as it may have been and some nightmarish eruptions of anxiety filled with symbolism (clocks with no hands) and a foreboding sense of imminent death. We see fond reveries of his first crush, Sara (Bibi Andersson), in the wild strawberry patch - and then we later see her in a frightening scene where she holds a mirror up to Borg to show him his flaws (surely not something that really happened). Sara is also mirrored by her modern day doppelganger, a modern young Sara who Borg and his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) pick up hitchhiking with two male travelling companions on their way to Italy. While Marianne gives Borg a piece of her mind (informing him how his own son hates him for the way he has been treated), the new young Sara gives Borg a chance to amend his ways, soften his personality, and reflect on his own behaviour. Marianne and her estranged husband (Borg's son; Gunnar Björnstrand) have fought over whether to have children (he thinks that it is cruel to bring anyone into this terrible world - an existential truism for Bergman, perhaps) but by the end of the film, they will reconcile and Borg's own anxieties will have calmed. Yet overall, the film seems ambivalent toward life and relationships - Bergman sees them as affording both great torment and the opportunity for beautiful communion. Each generation passes along its successes and failures to the next one - yet there is still hope that one can escape this determinism, if perhaps only on our deathbeds! A rich and provocative film that would reward closer study.
Heart-breaking reflection on death, and one man's empty existence saved only by memories. A profound masterwork.
Inquiring and peaceful.
Extraordinary film making. I have to say the ending is a bit of a cop out. It's optimism betrays the substance of the film. The only other quibble l have is it implies psychopathy is heritable. But it is a truly remarkable film.