Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wild Strawberries 1958

Isaak Borg is a 78 year ex-professor, driving along a seaside ringed by slopes dense with conifers. Accompanying him are his estranged daughter in law and three boisterous teenagers, who have hitched a hike. He is a successful man, and his destination is a nearby university, where he is to receive an honorary doctorate today, his professional crowning moment. Early this morning, he had a strange dream, foreboding his death, though he seems  in good health (clip below). His journey is a journey through his own past: an unhappy marriage. a bitter father son relation, losing his youthful love (in a double role by Bibi Andersson, who is also one of the three teenagers in his car) and a rewarding career. He also picks up a couple whose car has crashed into theirs in the process of a physical fight. They make no attempt to hide or suppress their mutual hatred, and have to be asked to leave. We have a picture of the hellish depth to which a relationship can descend, mirroring his own with his long deceased wife.  He visits some of the places marking events of his life and meets his 90+ mother, in this journey of dreams and reverie. This is in effect a biography of the aged professor, what was and what could not be, and his present anxieties about death. His present is of idyllic comfort, as we see him passing his days, writing in his book populated study, tended by his efficient housekeeper of 40 years standing.
This was the first Bergman film I saw, and perhaps the best. It is a picture of a bitter sweet journey of life, as the camera drinks in the sea, the hills and the human form. Bergman is a master in portraying human expressions, the fleeting variations of mood and emotion. Ebert once remarked he was a master in his studies of human faces. This is cinema of the finest vintage. Bergman is no mean literary talent either, and the script sparkles and dances.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was also my first experience with Ingmar Bergman film. I wholeheartedly recommend Woody Allen's "Another Woman"(1988), which was influenced a lot by this great film.