Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman (1957) is a richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery. It is filled with a man’s fear of death, regrets, nostalgia and the relationship between man, woman and family with a touch of religion. He centered his work on two great themes — the relationship between the sexes and the relationship between mankind and God. (Mervyn Rothstein, Ingmar Bergman)
“What makes the film great is its nearness to each of us.” -Derek Malcolm, Ingmar Bergman: Wild Strawberries
In this film the main character, Dr. Isak Borg, is “the distinguished professor emeritus who lives alone with his housekeeper, who can only come to terms with his egocentricity by traveling back in time to his earliest youth, finding there the seeds of his failure as husband, lover, and father.” (Peter Cowie, Wild Strawberries)
Wild Strawberries addresses the problems of adults, bringing a part of harsh reality into the film. Evald, Isak’s son, and his wife argues about having children. Evald refuses to have any children, partly due to the cold and harsh treatment from his father, however he doesn’t realize how similar he is to his father due to his stubbornness which they both share.
The just and vivid portrayal of different generations, from childhood to old age, via all the stages in between, is one of the most beautifully wrought aspects of Wild Strawberries. (Mark Le Fanu, Where is the friend I seek) The stark contrast between the 3 generations shows the growth of man in life. From the three loud, cheery teens and the sarcastic middle-aged couple who passionately loathe each other, to the ageing professor who is isolated from his loved ones.
Ingmar Bergman’s films are famous for their psychic violence; it is a commonplace to say that they are peopled by characters who are neurotic. However, Wild Strawberries, taken as a whole, is not at all a neurotic movie. Its final cadences, on the contrary, communicate a wonderful, warm sanity, and Thulin’s beauty—often in reaction shots, where she is not saying anything but merely listening serenely and responsively—is a not negligible part of this humanism. (Mark Le Fanu, Where is the friend I seek)
Bergman’s trademark style is evident in the film. He made use of many close-up shots of faces to capture emotions. Especially in the last scene, where Isak recalls his last childhood memory. The memory is finally a happy one. Seeing his family once again, he is at peace with himself. “Sjostrom’s face shone”, said the director. “It emanated light – a reflection of a different reality, hitherto absent. His whole appearance was soft and gentle, his glance joyful and tender. It was like a miracle”. (Derek Malcolm, Ingmar bergman: Wild Strawberries)
Wild Strawberries does not have many soundtracks. However the few soundtracks are successful in creating the various mood of the film. Bergman included sounds like the crashing of a lamp, the squealing of an axle and the sound of heart beats, leaving deep impressions in viewers in certain scenes such as in the dreams of Isak.
Bergman has always been aware of the importance of the soundtrack, seeking a little extra sound that will give a scene an added dimension. (Peter Cowie, Wild Strawberries)
The key scene in this film, is the eerie nightmare sequence that starts at the beginning of the film. It gives viewers a glimpse into the mind of an old man. He is afraid of death, and is haunted by it. The fear is amplified when at one scene, the silence was so great, that Isak could hear his own heartbeat. This scene also represented Bergman’s own fear of death.
“When I look at my brother,” he told Liv Ullmann “it seems it was only yesterday we were running barefoot in the garden, and I feel a fear inside me.” In the spring of 1957, immediately after directing a television version of Hjalmar Bergman’s Mr.Sleeman is Coming, Ingmar Bergman settled down to write the screenplay for Wild Strawberries—a film dealing with that “fear.” (Peter Cowie, Wild Strawberries)
Wild Strawberries remains Bergman’s most successful film in terms of the number of awards it has received, and it firmly established Bergman’s reputation as a filmmaker on the international stage. (Jan Holmberg, Wild Strawberries) Bergman broke upon the international film scene in the mid-1950s with four films that became symbols of his career, one of them being Wild Strawberries. (Mervyn Rothstein, Ingmar Bergman)
His films influenced many other filmmakers, including Woody Allen, who once called Ingmar “probably the greatest film artist.
About the Author: Karen is a student who requires more direction as well as sleep.
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