Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället)
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Written by Ingmar Bergman
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#334 of 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die
I have loved this every time I have seen it. And every time I see it, it seems like a different movie.
Isaac Borg (Viktor Sjöström) is a 78-year-old widower. He lives alone with his equally aged housekeeper Miss Agda. This particular day he is to receive an honorary doctorate celebrating his 50 years as a respected physician. He decides to take his time and drive to Lund from Stockholm in his ancient limousine. His daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) asks to accompany him. She wants to see his son Evald (Gunnar Bjoörnstrand), whom she left several days previously. Isaac and Marianne do not enjoy a warm relationship.
We see the day in flashback as Isaac is writing in a journal. Despite the honor he is to receive, his life seems to him to have been wasted and not really lived. He spends much of the day having disturbing dreams and fantasies and learning hard truths. His sadness is lightened by three young hitchhikers who join him en route. With Bibi Andersson in a dual role as one of the hitchhikers and Isaac’s lost love Sara.
Somehow this has always struck me as a cold, sad movie. On this viewing, however, it seemed positively redemptive. Age may have something to do with it. Now learning something about oneself and the possibility of even small changes seems hugely significant.
I probably don’t need to gush on and on about the beauty of this masterpiece. I’ve always preferred The Seventh Seal but now I am not so sure. Sjöström is completely fantastic in it. I love his occasional childlike wistfulness. My highest recommendation.
Wild Strawberries was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen.
Three reasons to watch – Criterion Collection