Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) – Review
Released in the same year as The Seventh Seal (1957), Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries stars Victor Sjöström as Dr Isak Borg and Bibi Andersson in two roles, as Sara, the hitchhiker and as Sara, the doctor’s childhood sweetheart.
The film is a hauntingly beautiful meditation on life and death and follows a lonely and elderly professor on a car journey to accept an honorary degree. Along the way he is forced to come to terms with his own mortality, and begins to reflect on his life, his regrets, and his childhood memories.
Accompanied by his daughter-in-law (Ingrid Thulin), the trip is transformed into a journey in and out of the man’s past as the boundary between reality and dream blurs.
The viewer slowly comes to realize that the doctor is in fact two people in one body. Although he has been a good doctor and an invaluable asset to many in the community, to those closest to him he has been little more than a cold rationalist and a pedant.
Bergman gives us the man and at the same time, because he is stripped down to his soul, we retain sympathy for him. Low key and understated as the action is, the emotional impact of this story is enormous.
At the beginning of the film we are introduced to a man who has isolated himself emotionally from his closest family and friends, and within the 90 minutes it takes to get to the end of the film we see him come through a renaissance of redemption.
In its revelation of human character, desire, and chagrin, Wild Strawberries is a powerful and masterful film.