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.
After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.
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April 2, 2019