Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957, Sweden)

             Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 masterpiece, arrived at a point of tremendous creative output for the Swedish auteur. Released in the same year as Bergman’s other masterpiece, The Seventh Seal, the film was another title which launched Bergman on the international stage. Its plot and themes have influenced filmmakers as varied as Woody Allen and Satyajit Ray. Additionally, Stanley Kubrick once cited Wild Strawberries as his second favorite film of all time. The film is rightly cited as one of the best to examine the twilight years of life, and it is anchored by an incredibly nuanced performance from Victor Sjostrom – the Swedish silent idol and filmmaker.

            The film takes the plot of a road movie. The grouchy and old professor Isak Borg (sharing the same initials as the film’s director) sets out on a ride to receive an award in Lund. He is accompanied by his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), who – unbeknownst to him – is considering separating from her husband Evald (Gunnar Bjornstrand) because he does not want to have children with her. Along the way, the couple encounters hitchhikers who symbolize various fragments of Borg’s past. A youthful trio led by Bibi Andersson, leads Borg into reveries about his youthful romances. A bickering and spiteful couple likewise reminds Borg of his own failed marriage, his reflections of which culminate in a powerful sequence in which he re-witnesses his wife’s infidelity.

            The film’s consistent transition from dreams to reality, and the fusing of characters from the past and present, would prove immensely influential on other filmmakers, and had a large part in changing the language and exploring the symbolic boundaries of cinema. Likewise, the film’s opening dream sequence, in which Borg encounters his dead body in a coffin, is perhaps one of the best dream sequences ever in cinema.

 

10/10

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