Saturday, January 21, 2012

318. Smultronstallet/Wild Strawberries (1957)

Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Written By:
Ingmar Bergman
Main Cast: Victor Sjostrom, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Jullan Kindahl
Click here to view the trailer


This is probably the most disappointed I've been since I've started this journey. In short, I didn't much care for "Wild Strawberries", but the disappointment really kicks in when I realize Ingmar Bergman is now 0-3...and I had such high hopes for him.

The film centers around Isak Borg (Sjostrom), a 76-year-old, retired physician. The film is also narrated by Isak and as the picture begins he is preparing himself to go to Lund, to accept an honorary award. At last minute, Isak's daughter-in-law Marianne (Thulin) asks if she can accompany him and he accepts. Isak and Marianne then pack into an automobile and begin the long drive to Lund University. At first, their car ride doesn't go to well, as Isak brings up some serious issues and Marianne basically tells Isak that she doesn't like him very much and never has. During the entire time, Isak is entranced in deep reflection about his own past life and the mistakes and missteps he made. On a detour of their route, Isak and Marianne stop off at the home where Isak spent his summer's as a boy. There Isak reflects on his youth and remembers his cousin Sara (Andersson), a girl whom he was in love with. When he snaps back to reality, he meets a present day girl named Sara, who is joined by two boys and needs a ride to Italy. Isak agrees to take them as far as Lund. Later, Isak makes a second detour, at his elderly mother's house and again does some reflecting. Eventually, the group pile back into the car and continue their trip to Lund. During most of the ride, Isak sleeps and dreams bizarre things that give him insight into his own character.

It's not that "Wild Strawberries" was terrible, it's just that in the big picture it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be. I REALLY wanted to like this picture. I've heard Woody Allen talk about this film many times, citing it as one of his personal favorites and even upon reading a brief synopsis of the plot, it sounded like something that I could really take to. You know, I think there's just far too much pressure on the wannabe film buff to like certain movies, "Wild Strawberries" being a glaring example. Throughout this entire picture I just kept thinking, in the back of my head - almost subconsciously - that I NEEDED to like this film. In the end, I didn't. But why?

My main problem with "Wild Strawberries" is the execution. On the surface, the film is actually quite a good idea. It's a very simple structure of a man going through a day where he's starting to examine his own character, the way he's lived his life and the key moments that shaped him in his current, 76-year-old, state. My connection to this film was really severed when Bergman started incorporating flashbacks. I was really with it, especially when Isak and Marianne started their car ride and the great back and forth dialogue between the two, the quiet, very real responses from Sjostrom. Then they take the detour and we get a flashback to Isak's childhood, as he reflects on a memory that he wasn't even a part of (so how could he reflect on it?), involving his cousin Sara. Had Bergman, in some way, been able to get across the idea that Isak was going through a period of self examination, without the use of flashbacks, I think I would have taken to the film a lot better. Even the dream sequences weren't terrible, but again, I'd have rather heard, through the narration possibly, of Isak's memories.

Also, the film just wasn't that poignant to me. There's never any great realization from Isak, at least that I saw. We hear about Isak's faults through the narration and flashbacks, but we never see the man that Marianne speaks of, the cold, callous man that she tells him he can be. All we ever really see is an elderly, timid gentlemen and therefore in the end, when Isak has his little talk with Evald, it's really of no importance. I don't know - all I DO KNOW is that I just didn't take to the film and I was really looking forward to it. It's just not a film that served it's purpose on me, as well as it obviously has on others.

RATING: 5.5/10 Like I said, not terrible, but nothing I'd bother writing home about. There are still seven Bergman films remaining, but honestly, I'm starting to lose hope that a truly great one is going to come along. Next up: "Through a Glass Darkly".


January 21, 2012 6:47pm


  1. Well I know you were really looking forward to watching the "Bergman" films, sorry to see you have been disappointed thus far!

  2. May I echo Red75's comment.
    This one I really like. Perhaps it's an age thing.. as we get older and grumpier ourselves, we sympathise more with older characters?


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