Wild Strawberries (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means "The wild strawberry patch" but idiomatically signifies an underrated gem of a place, often with personal or sentimental value. The cast includes Victor Sjöström in his final screen performance as an old man recalling his past, as well as Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, and Gunnar Björnstrand. Max von Sydow also appears in a small role. Bergman wrote the screenplay while hospitalized. Exploring philosophical themes such as introspection and human existence, Wild Strawberries is often considered to be one of Bergman's greatest and most moving films.

Plot

Grouchy, stubborn, and egotistical Professor Isak Borg is a widowed 78-year-old physician who specialized in bacteriology. Before specializing he served as general practitioner in rural Sweden. He sets out on a long car ride from Stockholm to Lund to be awarded the degree of Doctor Jubilaris 50 years after he received his doctorate from Lund University. He is accompanied by his pregnant daughter-in-law Marianne who does not much like her father-in-law and is planning to separate from her husband, Evald, Isak's only son, who does not want her to have the baby, their first.

During the trip, Isak is forced by nightmares, daydreams, old age, and impending death to reevaluate his life. He meets a series of hitchhikers, each of whom sets off dreams or reveries into Borg's troubled past. The first group consists of two young men and their companion, a woman named Sara who is adored by both men. Sara is a double for the love of Isak's youth. The first group remains with him throughout his journey. Next Isak and Marianne pick up an embittered middle-aged couple, the Almans, whose vehicle has nearly collided with theirs. The pair exchanges such terrible vitriol and venom that Marianne stops the car and demands that they leave. The couple reminds Isak of his own unhappy marriage. In a dream sequence, Isak is asked by Sten Alman, now the examiner, to read “foreign” letters on the blackboard. He cannot. So, Alman reads it for him: "A doctor's first duty is to ask forgiveness," from which he concludes, "You are guilty of guilt."

He reminisces about his childhood at the seaside and his sweetheart Sara, with whom he remembered gathering strawberries, but who instead married his brother. He is confronted by his loneliness and aloofness, recognizing these traits in both his ancient mother (whom they stop to visit) and in his middle-aged physician son, and he gradually begins to accept himself, his past, his present, and his approaching death. In one dream, he is quizzed by a very judgmental medical professor; he is also praised by a small-town merchant who remembers him.

Borg finally arrives at his destination and is promoted to Doctor Jubilaris, but this proves to be an empty ritual. That night, he bids a loving goodbye to his young friends, to whom the once bitter old man whispers in response to a playful declaration of the young girl's love, "I'll remember." As he goes to his bed in his son's home, he is overcome by a sense of peace, and dreams of a family picnic by a lake. Closure and affirmation of life have finally come, and Borg's face radiates joy.

Cast

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Wild Strawberries (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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