Reviews for Wild Strawberries ( 1957 ) 720p

A Contrarian View

By: fred3f
As I look at all the 10 star reviews that others have given this film I wonder if I am being foolhardy in daring to say something to the contrary. I am and have been for many years a Bergman fan. I eagerly saw most of his films as they were released. I love nearly all of them - this one being an exception. Certainly the film is worth seeing - any Bergman film is. But this one is often cited as his best, and there I would strongly disagree. It is about an academic and although professor Borg has to face some of his demons, he comes out on top in then end. I understand why this film is so popular. Academics see themselves in professor Borg and academics have a lot of influence on what is considered art and what isn't. Borg ends up looking good at the end of the film, and academics, although they have their faults like anyone else, like to think that they are worthy of the respect that their position commands. In many, many cases they are - and this is not a diatribe against academics. I just think that Bergman let this character off too easily, particularly when you compare the way he treats his other characters in movies like "The Hour of the Wolf", "The Silence", "Shame" and so on. He plumbs the depths of the soul and takes no prisoners. "Wild Strawberries" starts out that way, when the professor flashes back to the key points in his life where he turned away from love, life and reality in favor of academic honor. But ultimately Bergman backs down. The professor, having seen the errors of a lifetime in a few short hours, is shown to be wiser and a better man now as he receives his honorary award. Bergman does not do this in his other films. For me this gives a certain falsity to "Wild Strawberries" that I don't see in "Persona" for example. Well, everyone will probably disagree with me, - this is such an acclaimed film - but sometimes it is valuable to hear a contrarian opinion even when you don't agree with it.

A magnificent film

By: apmahd
In "Smultronstallet", the elderly professor Isak Borg, on his way to receive an honorary degree, uses the journey to discover and understand himself and the effect he has had on others. The action converts past and present, reality and fantasy, the present harshly and starkly lit, the earlier memories more relaxed and lyrical as if, for an old man, the past - that other country - was better than the time and place he inhabits now. Each new character, each reminiscence as it springs up in the mind of professor reveals something new about him - his failings, his shortcomings, the reasons why, in his apparently successful and honored old age, he is alone and lonely. This is, admittedly, an uneven film, verbally over explicit, but it is packed with vivid imagery - an early dream sequence, both mysterious and yet significant; a disenchanted couple squabbling fiercely in a car; the sad beauty of Marianne, unhappy daughter-in-law; the words, memories and gestures of professor's mother; the distancing effect produced by the device of having the professor visiting his own past unseen by those who shared it with him; the meeting with Akerman. It is a sombre, striking work, uncompromising in its examination of the protagonist and Victor Sjostrom, in his last screen role, is splendid. For me, this film is the proof for to believe Ingmar Bergman the best best European director of the last century.

The only reality

By: Vincentiu
A gorgeous movie about memory and hope. A trip and a form of catharsis. It is not a story of an old man who discovers images of his past, about a marital crisis or some teenagers. It is not a confession. It is a mirror. The same crisis is the "gift" of everybody. The same silence, fear and desire are the refuge of a man, a woman, a n American or Irakian. At a moment, at a single moment, you discover your past like only reality. Like your real skin, your only voice, your essential eye. It is not strange. We are the fruits of some experiences. Some books, some people, a family, a child or a wife are the Ganymedes of our hours, our evolution, our death. Our freedom, our gestures, our smile are the trees of their presence. Isak Borg is the image of a age. Our age who grow-up in the noise of every day. The isolation is only way to be yourself. The way to Lund, the relation with Agda, the empty attitude, the projection in Evald, the words are the symbols of a clock who is seed of our conscience. Childhood is only reality of our life.

Stunning Bergman Masterpiece -- Maybe His Best?

By: evanston_dad
"Wild Strawberries" profoundly moved me. The theme -- an old man coming up fast on death and wondering if his life has had any meaning -- is an old one for Bergman, and one which he explored ad nauseum throughout the subsequent decades. But here Bergman approaches the question with an uncharacteristic optimism and sense of hope. For once, he seems to come close to finding some peace with the unknowns of life that obviously preoccupied him as an artist, and the movie he gives us is sad but immensely warm; resigned but calm and reflective.

An unequivocal masterpiece, and only one of a handful of Bergman films ("Persona" and "Cries and Whispers" being two others) that don't drive me over the edge when I watch them now.

Grade: A+

One of the most beautiful films

By: jameskinsman
Ostensibly simple on first analysis, Wild Strawberries, alongside the work of Bresson, Dreyers Le Passion De Jeanne D'Arc and Murnau's Sunrise, is one of those very special, transcendent assets of cinema able to inspire us in a deep and spiritual way. Bergman's achievement to tell a heartfelt story with a very human message juxtaposed with image after image of stunning beauty is something so rare and so very remarkable. I wont go into a deep analysis of this beautiful masterpiece, as many other users on here have done so. All I will do is simply describe one of the films most lyrically sublime scenes.

Near the end of the film, as Isak Borg lies in bed, his son asks him how his heart is (meaning his physical health). Being a doctor of considerable talent and having a tradition of being practical and sensible in his work, you would expect him to tell his son of his failing health. However after his subsequent journey, both physical and spiritual, his attentions are now turned toward his emotional and spiritual well being, a part of himself he has neglected for many years. He simply replies that his heart is fine, and that he is happy and content. In this single moment, we understand that Isak has reached a moment of catharsis, but it also tells us something about every one of us. We strive constantly for physical wealth and materialistic products of our lives and jobs, but we must remember the simple but extremely rewarding pleasures that determine the happiest of individuals.

exceptionally well made

By: MartinHafer
Although I'm not the biggest Ingmar Bergman fan, I have really enjoyed some of his movies--especially the one that are not so pessimistic. Although the underlying theme of this movie is aging and impending death, the movie is NOT all pessimism. If it had been, it would have lost my interest early on. Instead, I really enjoyed the film--particularly the fine acting by Victor Sj?str?m as Professor Borg.

The professor is well-respected for his work as a doctor. However, despite his success in his career, he is a failure in his personal relationships. His emotional baggage over the years has prevented him from allowing himself to be close to those he truly loves. This theme mirrors one of the subplots of Through a Glass Darkly, where a father is being destroyed inside by his daughter's mental illness but he CANNOT allow himself to show his anguish--choosing instead to hide in his room with his tears. It is interesting that the same man playing Borg's son (Gunnar Bj?rnstrand) plays the father only a few years later in Through a Glass Darkly.

Fortunately, unlike Through a Glass Darkly, there IS evidence that the professor is willing to change his persona, as he begins to open up more through the course of the movie. This appears to be assisted through extensive soul searching and dreams the professor has concerning his past and his own mortality--along with experiences he has during a long drive down the coast of Sweden. Because of this, even his extremely strained relationship with his son appears to hold some hope of improvement by the film's end. This hope for change lifts this movie above some Bergman films that only wallow in hopelessness.

FYI--The Criterion version of this DVD is nice due to its running commentary as well as the accompanying documentary. Get this version if you have the chance.

Also FYI--After watching many Bergman films and reading about his life, I detect quite a bit of autobiography in this film and his own stuggles with intimacy.

One of Master's Most Optimistic, Profound, And Warmest Films.

By: G_a_l_i_n_a
I first saw "Wild Strawberries" many years ago at one of the special screenings in the small theater in Moscow. It was the first Bergman's film I ever saw. This picture is amazing in its emotional impact and in my opinion is one of Bergman's most optimistic, profound, and warm films.

"Wild Strawberries" provides sincere, intelligent, and emotional contemplations of life's disappointment, regrets, and losses. The main character, seventy-eight-year-old Professor Isak Borg is forced to see his life in a true and painful light, but he also would learn that there is hope.

Sparkling cinematography by Gunnar Fisher and superb acting of Bergman's regulars ? Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Anderson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Max von Sydow and especially, the great silent film director, Victor Sjostrom as Professor Borg add to many delights of "Wild Strawberries" which also include Bergman's writing/directing with his famous mixing of conscious and unconscious, dreams and reality, the past and the present in the same scene.

A cold start to a warm ending.

By: wcook3
Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman is an interesting film in the mere fact that it is difficult to predict the conclusion before film's end. Bergman's use of light and dark scenes to create a sense of the character and atmosphere is wonderfully achieved in this outstanding film of the late 1950s.

The opening scene of the movie provides the viewer an excellent synopsis of Dr. Isak Borg's life and family. The scene acquaints the viewer with his son, mother, house keeper, deceased wife and the doctor himself.

The first dream by Dr. Borg is dark and puzzling due mainly to its unclear meaning and uncanny nature. The street is deserted and clear. Dr. Borg approaches a clock and looks, but it is without hands. He looks at his pocket watch and it is also without hands. The black and white scene is subdued and calm, but draws the viewer in all the while guessing what's next. The scene is without music and progresses with the sound of a heart beat that quickens with each step taken as he walks along the desolate boulevard. When Dr. Borg approaches a man, the man turns and lacks a face. Shortly after, a cart-drawn casket passes and knocks its wheel off after colliding with a lamp post. The casket falls, opens, and a hand hangs exposed. Dr. Borg approaches the casket preparing to look inside when the hand reaches and clutches his hand. Surprised and frightened, he struggles to free the grip and soon recognizes that the face of the man in the casket is his own.

The movie was filled with Dr. Borg's puzzling dreams and remembrances of his early life, but much of the charm and warmth that is contained throughout the movie is owed to the secondary characters. Dr. Borg's daughter-in-law, Marianne is a delight to watch because she can smile like an angle and can be bluntly frank, all at the same time. Her stunning classic looks and assured mannerism helps the movie in a great way. Agda has lived with the doctor as his housekeeper for forty years. She and Dr. Borg hysterically argues as if man and wife. She knows the doctor well and understands him like the other people in his life do not. Sara, the young girl who wakes the doctor as he lay near the wild strawberries is a joy to watch. She shows the doctor new ways to look at the world by not taking anything too seriously. She takes in all that life has to offer and brings out the joy. Her slight touch to the doctor's face while they drove is one of the warmest scenes in the film and defines her loving character. There are many warm moments in the film, and many moments of darkness. The beginning of the film was dark, puzzling, and melancholy, and the end of the film was warm, bright and full of life and tenderness. The movie brought to mind, Charles Dickens' Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol. Although Professor Borg was not nearly as cold and unpleasant as Mr. Scrooge, he did however isolate and distance himself from his wife, friends, and family. His cruelty was hidden by his charm, but affected people quite similar to Mr. Scrooge's nasty mannerisms. On several occasions, in dreams and reality, Dr. Borg had to endure scrutiny from family members about his coldness. While driving to Lund, Marianne charmingly reminded him of his lack of warmth, love, and understanding and how she only knows him as a father-in-law. Marianne also lets on to Dr. Borg that his own son hates him; words that rang in the doctor's head. The doctor's dreams pointed out to him how he isolated the important parts of life and the people who cared for him. During one of Dr. Borg's dreams, he was taken by a teacher to see his dead wife. She was in a grassy field where she was making love to another man. Afterwards, she sat there talking to the man about her husband not caring, not giving her the attention she needed and how he would dismiss the entire event as his fault, but she says he does not mean any of it, because "he is cold as ice." Dr. Borg also became puzzled by a pocket watch that once belonged to his father. His mother showed him the watch and had wanted to give it to her grandson. The watch was missing the hands, just as the one in his dream. Throughout the movie, Dr. Borg let more and more of his old ways die and by the end of the day he was beginning to live and be happy. The crabby old coot that emerged at the beginning of the movie, softened and begin to see how happy he could be if he allowed himself. The Drive with the good people that Dr. Borg was fortunate to have accompany him, allowed him to experience the love and joy of others.

When film was an art form

By: DeeNine-2
In this symbolic tale of an old man's journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance, Ingmar Bergman explores in part his own past, and in doing so rewards us all with a tale of redemption and love.

Victor Sjostrom, then 80 years old, stars as Professor Isak Borg whose self-indulgent cynicism has left him isolated from others. Sjostrom, whose work goes back to the very beginning of the Swedish cinema in the silent film era, both as an actor and as a director, gives a brilliant and compelling performance. All the action of the film takes place in a single day with flashbacks and dream sequences to Borg's past as Borg wakes and goes on a journey to receive a "Jubilee Doctor" degree from the University of Lund. Bergman wrote that the idea for the film came upon him when he asked the question, "What if I could suddenly walk into my childhood?" He then imagined a film "about suddenly opening a door, emerging in reality, then turning a corner and entering another period of one's existence, and all the time the past is going on, alive."

Bibi Andersson plays both the Sara from Borg's childhood, the cousin he was to marry, and the hitchhiker Sara who with her two companions befriends him with warmth and affection. The key scene is when the ancient Borg in dreamscape comes upon the Sara of his childhood out gathering wild strawberries. Borg looks on (unnoticed of course) as his brother, the young Sigfrid, ravishes her with a kiss which she returns passionately; and, as the wild strawberries fall from her bowl onto her apron, staining it red, Borg experiences the pain of infidelity and heartbreak once again. Note that in English we speak of losing one's "cherry"; here the strawberries symbolize emotionally much the same thing for Sara. Later on in the film as the redemption comes, the present day Sara calls out to Borg that it is he that she really loves, always and forever. Borg waves her away from the balcony, yet we are greatly moved by her love, and we know how touched he is.

The two young men accompanying Sara can be seen as reincarnations of the serious and careful Isak Borg and the more carefree and daring Sigfrid. It is as though his life has returned to him as a theater in which the characters resemble those of his past; yet we are not clear in realizing whether the resemblance properly belongs in the old man's mind or is a synchronicity of time returned.

Memorable is Ingrid Thulin who plays Mariana, the wife of Borg's son who accompanies him on the auto trip to Lund. She begins with frank bitterness toward the old man but ends with love for him; and again we are emotionally moved at the transformation. What Bergman does so very well in this film is to make us experience forgiveness and the transformation of the human spirit from the negative emotions of jealousy and a cold indifference that is close to hate, to the redemption that comes with love and a renewal of the human spirit. In quiet agreement with this, but with the edge of realism fully intact, is the scene near the end when Borg asks his long time housekeeper and cook if they might not call one another by their first names. She responses that even at her age, a woman has her reputation to consider. Such a gentle comeuppance meshes well with, and serves as a foil for, all that has gone on before on this magical day in an old man's life.

See this for Bergman who was just then realizing his genius (The Seventh Seal was produced immediately before this film) and for Sjostrom who had the rare opportunity to return to film as an actor in a leading role many decades past him prime, and made the most of it with a flawless performance, his last major performance as he was to die three years later.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

A cathartic viewing experience

By: jonr-3
I'd seen "Wild Strawberries" as a college freshman when it was first released, and knew right away I'd be a Bergman fan from then on.

I watched it again just last night, January 2004, at age 63, and needless to say got a whole different perspective on the film. Where the surrealist touches, moody photography, and incredibly smooth direction had made the big hit with me as a near boy, as an aging man I found myself--I hesitate to say painfully, but...well, closely--identifying with old Isak Borg in his strange pilgrimage, both interior and exterior, the day he receives his honorary degree at the cathedral in Lund.

In the last twenty minutes or so of the movie, I found tears running down my face, not from any thrilling sentimental browbeating (I doubt if Mr. Bergman shot five seconds' worth of sentimentality in his whole long career!) but simply from the cumulative emotional impact of this simple, powerful story and its probing revelation of human character, desire, and chagrin.

By the time the film ended, I felt wrung out, disoriented, happy and deeply sad at the same time: it's the experience the Greeks wanted their tragedies to convey to the spectator; they spoke of "katharsis." I experienced it firsthand when I had the great good fortune to see a production (in English) of "Medea." I walked away in tears and scarcely able to think straight for an hour or so.

The same thing happened with "Wild Strawberries." This is one of the handful of films I unhesitatingly rate a "ten."

A side note: I watched the Criterion Collection DVD. Before the film itself, I watched the hour-long interview conducted in 1998 by Jorn Donner included on the disc. It was remarkable to see how the film Bergman shot ca. 1957 contains many elements that were to be present in his later life--like a foreshadowing of his own old age.

First Bergman

By: SanTropez_Couch
During the first scene of "Wild Strawberries," I didn't think I'd be able to get through it -- the Swedish was so alien to me it sounded almost comical; it seemed as if every word ended with an "eer" sound. But quickly the beautiful black and white photography caught my eye and I was drawn into Isak Borg's story, or rather, his self-examination.

The progression of the film is fantastic. Early in the film, Isak has an apparition within a dream and the small events leading up to it, within the dream, are quite brilliant. Throughout the rest of the film there are dreams and recollections; newly discovered secrets of the past that Isak sees for the first time. As he says in the film, "Dreams, as if I must tell myself something I won't listen to when I'm awake."

How Bergman shows us the characters is terrific. It's a like a relaxed puzzle that doesn't emphasize any sort of urgency to figure things out. The story unfolds beautifully as we get a deeper sense of Isak, who I assume is an alter ago of Ingmar Bergman at that stage of his life (he was thirty-nine when the film was released).

It pains me to know that the majority of people my age would rather watch an Adam Sandler movie or "The Rock" than something like this. Hey, I liked "Big Daddy" and I love Nicolas Cage, but "Wild Strawberries" is one of the few films I've seen that could possibly change the way I live my life. I'm always interested in listening to what aged people have to say about their own life because, well, it can only give me tips about my own, and that's what this film does in a way.

There is one sequence in the film that is frightening and "arty," and I don't completely grasp what it means beyond Isak's deterioration and his realization of how people actually feel towards him (he's told earlier in the film as well, but he seems to accept this "verdict" more readily), but it doesn't take away from the film; rather, it's an interesting addition to an otherwise satisfying experience. In fact, it's probably the most vital part of the movie -- Isak may not like it, bbut once he gets past it, he has the option to develop.

I don't know if the film is a masterpiece -- it's my introduction to Bergman, so once I see "Cries and Whispers," "Fanny and Alexander," "Persona" and "The Seventh Seal" (if I can get through it, this time) I'll come back to this film with a new perspective, or at least see it as a part of Bergman's whole. I do think this is a great film of its type. It's the kind of film that may require viewings every five or so years, as a sort of reminder.

Pauline Kael once said that she didn't think much of Bergman because she'd done her share of soul-wrestling and it wasn't that difficult. The film isn't as challenging as I was expecting it to be, in fact, it's a walk in the park. It's pleasant and rich and beautiful, and the title seems perfect after you've seen the film. It's all about wild strawberries.

****

One of the very, very best

By: ian_harris
Quite simply one of the very, very best movies I have ever seen. Saw it recently for the second time, some 15 to 20 years after seeing it for the first time. First time round I was the age and stage of the traveling youngsters and saw the world through their eyes. This time I could identify more with the son and daughter-in-law characters with just as much conviction. The subtlety and sophistication of this movie defy description. It simply has to be seen to be believed. If you've never seen it, don't just sit there, go see the movie.

Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES Stunning on DVD

By: blue-7
Ingmar Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, on the Criterion DVD version, is nothing short of stunning. Picture, sound and English Subtitles have never been as fine as seen here. Having viewed this 1957 film during its first U.S. release in 1959, when I was 21 years-old, it was quite involving to return to it 43 years later. Like the Professor of the story, I too often reflect upon choice made along lifes path and wonder what might have been if different choices had been made. Victor Sjostron as Proffesor Isak Borg gives the performance of a life-time! What a magnificent face this man had! Bergman films can be quite dark and depressing, but his THE SEVENTH SEAL and WILD STRAWBERRIES are marvelous, thought-provoking dramas that lift the spirit. BEWARE: There are two other DVD releases, one from Asia and one from Brazil -- but neither of these have been cleaned up like the Criterion version. The sound for instance -- I have seen the dream sequence at the beginning of the film when the Professor walks through empty streets, sees handless clocks, a carriage carrying a casket with his body -- a scene with almost complete silence,BUT prints on 16mm, VHS and even Laser Disc all contain a great deal of surface noise. In the Criterion version, the silence is almost complete. And the picture is perfection -- blacks & whites that sparkle and no film blemishes or dirt-- a picture that is a wonder to behold. Peter Cowie's Commentary is outstanding and very worth while. The 90 Documentary from Swedish Television, INGMAR BERGMAN ON LIFE AND WORK is quite fascinating. Bergman, then in his early 80's, is very articulate and thoughtful in his discussion. Over the years Bergman has come to the conclusion that when we die we are no more -- and he has stated that conclusion gives him great peace. BUT his conversation in this documentary puts a wrinkle in his conclusion. He speaks of his final marriage to a woman for over 20 years and of her passing. He can not believe that SHE does not exist anymore. He often has the feeling that she is near him and that she still influences decisions he makes. He can accept not being for himself but not for her. Bergman is getting closer to the truth then he realizes. . . death is not the end -- but only the beginning. When he finally passes from this early life and finds that he still "is" -- I wonder if he'll wish he could change the focus of his later film work. Be that as it may -- WILD STRAWBERRIES and THE SEVENTH SEAL are two of the finest films of the last century -- in my humble opinion.

An almost mythical-style film

By: Agent10
I watched this film for a class, and virtually everyone groaned over the development. I was the only one with an open mind, and I was thankful for such a condition of spirit. While this film was at times slow, the morphing of different worlds created quite an experience, one which was spiritual and eerie. The dream sequences were amazing, examining the doctor's state of mind through the use of imagery and allegorical conventions. A good film for anyone to experience, and you get to Max von Sydow as a young man.

Bergman knows how to make you think.

By: iam-1
Bergman has been seen by many as being a depressing film makes, who speaks above the heads of most people. Thank God someone does! In this piece of genius, we are asked to consider who God is; what makes a life worthwhile; and whether human nature alters through the generations, or is it just the costumes that change? As usual, the answers are to be provided by the audience. We must chose for ourselves what we think is 'right' or 'just'. Bergman uses the usual pattern for him - a man is on a journey (life) and meets people who are going along the same road (friends and family), and they all head toward the end of their trip (death). They stop in for obligatory visits with relatives and for food (as we all do), receive an honourary degree (fame & success?), and then send the children off to a party held in our honour that we do not attend (funeral). What happens along the way is important, but we always end up in the same place - the end. Wonderful editing techniques, good story, good images, fantastic acting, and more ideas and questions to ponder than one film can hold - or so you thought. It's only after the film ends that these ponderings come to you. During the film, you simply watch a man travel from his home to another city, but this is far from what the film is about. See this film once, think about the questions it poses, then rewind and see it again. You will be rewarded for doing so.
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