Wild Strawberries (1957)

“If I have been feeling worried or sad during the day, I have a habit of recalling scenes from childhood to calm me. So it was this evening.”

‘Wild Strawberries’, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1957, feels like a film ahead of its time – for example: I struggled to place a date on it when writing this sentence. Bergman is clearly working through issues with his own father in his narrative of an elderly academic and his daughter-in-law on a road trip through Sweden. As they travel and encounter different generations of people, the man has Proustian dreams of the past, and anxiety nightmares that shape his conversations with his co-travellers. It’s actually quite a light movie, full of eccentric characters and farcical situations, but all undercut with a deep mediation on aging and the differences between the generations. Highlights are the genuinely unsettling opening dream sequence and the way Bergman balances the romantic depiction of the Swedish landscape with his traditional focus on the landscapes of the human face. The central performance, the casting of veteran director Victor Sjöström itself a part of the theme of generations, is magnificent as the character drifts between the conscious and oneiric planes.

Would I recommend it: Yes, it’s brilliant, especially as part of a general glut of Bergman movies. It makes more sense to me in the context of ‘The Seventh Seal’ and ‘Persona’.

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