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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

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.

Wild StrawberriesThe 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.

7 Responses to “Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) – Review”

  1. Dryer Parts says:

    I love old movies. I think the best way to see them is alone or with a girlfriend. Black and white images are so romantic.

  2. klp says:

    In the movie Wild Strawberries, a poem is recited while the characters are eating lunch. It begins, Where is the friend I seek at break of day?
    Do you know the author and title of the poem?

    jb says:
    Where is the friend I seek at break of day?
    When night falls I still have not found Him.
    My burning heat shows me His traces
    I see His traces whenever flowers bloom
    His love is mingled with every air.”
    *
    Sorry, klp, I can’t answer your question. All I know about it is that it is supposed to be an old Swedish poem. But I don’t know the author. Any Swedes in the house?

  3. Dino D says:

    Interesting , I always enjoy movies where the main character is complex and has several layers. This movie has that you first see him as an arrogant and aloof person
    but as you get to know him you will see other aspects of his persona.

    And you see him grow and evolve throughout the story and that’s another good quality that I like as well.

    jb says: Thanks for the comment, Dino. It’s some time since I saw this film, but it it still returns to me from time to time. Victor Sjöström as Dr Borg was wonderful.

  4. DAVID REID says:

    On the subject of the poem in Wild Strawberries, the words cited above are not from a poem but a Swedish psalm written 1818 by Johan Olaf Wallin. Not sure if the translation above is entirely correct.

    The way into this film often neglected by critics is in the Swedish title “Smultronstället”, wild strawberry place. in Sweden this a very special place, it can be as simple as a cafe but a place where wild strawberries can be found is often a source of fond memories and happiness. A place often kept close to the heart and kept secret.

    jb says: Thanks for this, David. A subtle clue is always welcome.

  5. Mike says:

    The review is compelling me to see the film. Now I am look out of getting a copy for me. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Simon says:

    Recently I got a chance to watch this movie and had a great time watching it. Cherishing memories!

  7. Motel in Lexington says:

    Reminiscing the glory old days. Each time I watched classics like this it is like riding on a time machine. It brings back not just the feeling but the air and the smell as well.