Wild Strawberries (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Along with classics like "Ikiru", "Tokyo Story", and "Umberto D", the 1957 Swedish masterpiece "Wild Strawberries" is one of the greatest films about old age ever made. With Ingmar Bergman's lyrical and sensitive direction and Gunnar Fischer's fairly expressionistic black-and-white cinematography, the film tells the tale of an old man who reminisces about his past that is filled with loss, regrets, and loneliness. The film is in several respects similar to Federico Fellini's 1963 film "8 1/2". Both films open with a nightmare sequence, and mix dreams, flashbacks, and reality throughout the narrative. Both are about a lonely and disillusioned intellectual who embarks on a journey of self-examination. Both men in the films are haunted by the past and tormented by the present, and have to deal with unsettling issues about their lives, their work, and their beliefs. And both ultimately manage to reach some sort of emotional closure.
Criterion's Region-A Blu-ray release of "Wild Strawberries" looks stunningly beautiful, making Fischer's gorgeous deep-focus cinematography irresistible to look at. A new 2K transfer was made for this Blu-ray, yielding a nearly pristine picture, in its original 4:3 screen aspect ratio. The 2002 Criterion DVD edition (all-region NTSC) still holds its own, but the eleven-year-old print pales in comparison to the Blu-ray, especially in the presentation of high contrast and deep blacks, which the Blu-ray format is inherently a superior medium for presenting such elements.
Swedish dialogs in the film are supported by optional English subtitles, which look to be identical on both the Blu-ray and DVD. The DVD's subtitles are white letters with black borders.Read more ›
Bergman introduces three young people into the drama to introduce life's most important question - that of the existence of God. The old man gives them a ride. One of the young men is thinking about becoming a parson; the other argues that God doesn't exist. The old man offers no opinion to the debate. He is silent, but it is a loud silence. It's a silence that reveals an amazing dimension of loss - the loss of year upon year of not coming to terms with this all-important question.
In one of the final scenes, Bergman masterfully closes in tight on the aged face of Professor Isak Borg (played by Victor Sjostrom). In that shot, we can see the whole universe in his eyes and all of its cares in the bags beneath them. Only Bergman could have directed that scene - only him. It makes Smultronstallet one of the most important films ever made. That one scene, better than any other that I know, captures `loss' on celluloid for all future generations to witness and have to deal with. If you see it, you may find yourself having to look away.
The imagery in Smultronstallet is unparalleled, except by Bergman's own Det Sjunde inseglrt (The Seventh Seal, 1957). Look for the handless watch, the corpse wagon, the sparseness of the first scene, the car windows turning to black - ominous signs are everywhere. Notice the clues that point to Bergman's existential philosophy (the twins write a song for a deaf man - as futile as Sisyphus' labor!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really a special movie. I hadn't seen it in decades! A real pleasure to watch a movie the evokes thought rather than hammers a message into the viewer.Published 3 months ago by Matt Purvis
Wild Strawberries is a pensive film, and has a rustic charm to it, but is never overly sentimental. The film is bittersweet, but is not the bitter melancholy of other films such as... Read morePublished 9 months ago by rbrogan3
This is not a review of the film, but rather a complaint against Criterion for always using hard to read white subtitles that are sometimes impossible to read against white... Read morePublished 11 months ago by shamdy
Awesome movie. I'm not a fan of old movies but this movie is totally relatable to things that happen in life. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Melonie Summers
From the terrifying opening, to the nightmares of an old man approaching death, there is a surreal power to this movie. Read morePublished 15 months ago by James Kenney
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