Since one of my enduring hobbies is watching movies, I decided one day to list my 100 favourite movies in order on the IMD. One question I kept being asked in response to my list was how do you not have any ‘Ingmar Bergman’ movies in your list. I am embarrassed to admit, I had not heard of the much adored Swedish director and soon enough I procured a copy of ‘the Seventh Seal’ and things changed pretty quickly from that moment on. The second movie I watched of Bergman just a few days after my Bergman debut was ‘Wild Strawberries’. It, like its predecessor, ‘The Seventh Seal’ left an indelible mark on my psyche. After seeing ‘Wild Strawberries’ for the second time last night, I still have images and thoughts of this movie experience whirling and lapping in the recesses of my mind. This movie along with the Seventh Seal are in my humble opinion the greatest artistic achievements in cinema history and the very least I can do is somehow extrapolate a word or two about them. I need to, so I can move onward with my day.
Warning: Spolier Alert from this moment on!
As IMD describes about ‘Wild Strawberries’ – ‘After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor (Isak) is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence. ‘
I noticed that despite being tainted as a ‘cold’ and ‘frigid’ man, Isak becomes more lucid and ‘likeable’ as his day unfolds and his dream states intensify. This is a big day in his professional life because he will receive an honorary degree, so he has good right to be ‘a sweet little old man’ proud of his professional accomplishments, but this about to take a backseat as his daughter in law speaks frankly to him, recalling what he said to her and his son about their needing help. This scene is pivotal to what lay ahead on Isak’s journey to the ceremony.
We perhaps are seeing the best of Isak this day due to the culminations of the dreams, the candidness of his daughter in law and the youthful exuberance of the adolescents – one who reminds him of his first ‘true love’. It is principally this profound realization that life is much more than professional achievement and that he should of perhaps been more attune with his legacy concerning his family and friends.
Like in ‘The Seventh Seal’ it is the wild strawberries of life which evokes sentiment and longing in this man, who at last questions what it really is to be human, something he seems to have avoided doing his whole life. This movie is a truly exceptional viewing experience containing so many layers, interpretations and symbolism which no synopsis or abstracts can do it justice.
Probably the only reviews I have seen which come close to providing worthy synopses are ‘The Breaking Down Bergman series”.
The creator of this series, David told me on IMD:
“My friend Sonia is a relatively new cinemagoer (at least to the degree she is now…which is several movies a week), and so we decided to embark on a “project.” At first, the plan was simply for us to watch all of the films of a director who had died, observing their growth — or lack thereof — throughout their career.
It was initially intended to just be for ourselves, but after the first movie Sonia pulled out her laptop and started to take notes. From there we had about five films of notes and nothing to do with them. Sonia suggested that we write short essays on each movie, but I didn’t see the point. I figured they’d only be plagiarized, at best, or ignored, at worst. So instead we decided to make some YouTube videos, which theoretically are more interesting and will interest a wider group of people.
A little bit of our early explanation and intentions can be found in our first video:
The series has certainly grown beyond our initial intentions, from meeting the Demon Theater folks to interviewing Liv Ullmann, so I have to say this journey has been quite unpredictable and pretty exciting for us.”
Below are episodes 1 and 2 of the magnificent Breaking Down Bergman series about Wild Strawberries:
- Akira Kurosawa to Ingmar Bergman: “A Human Is Not Really Capable of Creating Really Good Works Until He Reaches 80” (openculture.com)
- Ingmar Bergman Names The Eleven Films He Liked Above All Others (1994) (openculture.com)