In this elegiac, good-natured, optimistic and occasionally really funny film, Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström), a retired professor of medicine, drives with his daughter Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) to Lund University where he is to receive an honorary degree. They pick up various young passengers along the way who prompt memories of his life. Bergman uses dream sequences to illustrate Izak’s state of mind, and a visit to his elderly mother takes us to the wild strawberry memories of his childhood. With fluid cinematography by Bergman regular, Gunnar Fischer, we flit between dream and reality sequences. According to Wikipedia, Stanley Kubrick listed the film as his second favourite of all time; and Philip French (theguardian.com) made it one of his eight desert island movies.
Dir: Ingmar Bergman 92mins Sweden 1964
To celebrate last year’s centenary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman, we present this screening of Wild Strawberries – which we have previously shown in November 2000.
Scripted and directed by the renowned Swedish auteur (The Seventh Seal (1957), Fanny and Alexander (1982), Persona (1966)), this emotionally humane drama chronicles a day in the life of Professor Isak Borg, played by veteran actor and silent director Victor Sjöström (The Phantom Carriage (1921), He Who Gets Slapped (1924)), on a 10 hour drive with his daughter-in-law to receive an honorary degree.
Alongside the scripts for Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) and Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), Wild Strawberries was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 1960 Academy Awards but lost out to Michael Gordon’s Pillow Talk. It did better on the international festival circuit, gaining the Pasinetti Award at the 1958 Venice Film Festival and the Golden Bear Best Film Award, plus the FIPRESCI Prize for Sjöström, at the 1958 Berlin Film Festival. At the time of writing, the film is ranked at 157 in IMDb’s Top 250, between Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (1954) and the Buster Keaton silent The General (1926).
Acknowledgements: IMDb.com, New York Times, SilentLondon.co.uk ; 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
“Arguably the warmest of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces […] blessed with a radiant, yet courageously un-ingratiating performance from Victor Sjöström – himself Sweden’s greatest filmmaker before Bergman – this remarkable, much-imitated film […] has an emotional honesty entirely in keeping with the voyage undergone by its protagonist” Geoff Andrew, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
“A masterpiece – even better than I had remembered it from forty years ago!” ABCD member, Comment from previous screening.
Victor Sjöström – Dr Eberhard Isak Borg
Bibi Andersson – Sara
Ingrid Thulin – Marianne Borg
Gunnar Björnstrand – Dr Evald Borg
Max von Sydow – Henrik Åkerman
Director – Ingmar Bergman
Producer – Allan Ekelund (uncredited)
Screenplay – Ingmar Bergman
Cinematography – Gunnar Fischer
Music – Erik Nordgren, Göte Lovén (uncredited)
- Wistful, wonderful. Definitely better than the Antonioni!
- Compelling, moving and timeless – quite excellent, not at all dated
- Perfection – and JC filling up your tank, too!
- An excellent plot
- With plenty of themes open to interpretation, the film had much to say about life and death. It would be worth seeing a few times to fully appreciate all its ideas
- Glad I saw that! A thought provoking film
- I hadn’t expected a sentimental film! I enjoyed the Freudian dream sequences – no one does them now!
- How many intimations of mortality can you cram into a road movie? The opening scenes were well worthy of Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte
- Beautifully shot – what can I say?
- Some touching scenes, recent and past but I never unravelled the plot
- Felt very much of its time
- Still dark!