When I was told that we were celebrating the 100th Birthday of Ingmar Bergman, I was a little embarrassed by the sheer lack of Bergman films I have watched. I’ve always intended to get around to watching more of the auteur’s filmography, but for some reason life has always gotten in the way.
There are no more excuses now. I have vowed to watch as many films as I can and detail my progress, and yes I know you must be shaking your head as you read this especially when I sheepishly admit that I graduated in Film… But hopefully I can redeem myself with my challenge to watch 10 films and keep a diary about my reactions.
Where do I begin on my journey? Do I start from the very beginning with 1944’s Hets (Torment)? I did consider this, but there was one film on the list that immediately captured my attention. And that was 1957’s Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries). I have seen clips and certain scenes from the film, but have never sat down and watched it in one sitting.
I was glad that I chose Wild Strawberries as my first film, as it blew me away in such a profound way. I simply can’t quite express the effect it has had on me. The film so perfectly conveys its themes of self-examination, remorse, regret, and the contemplation of one’s own mortality.
The film left me sobbing at the end, which wasn’t the response I was expecting to have. But I was well and truly moved by this masterpiece (yes, it is a film that should be on everyone’s must-see list). I was left wondering whether the character of Isak Borg will awake from his sleep, and whether he had managed to reach some sort of peace now? Wild Strawberries is so poetic and thought-provoking, which is something that is becoming increasingly rare in films nowadays. It was a refreshing change to see such themes like mortality being addressed. The film’s narrative is simple and straightforward, but it is a powerful character study. Deconstructing what it is that makes us human, and how we are all haunted by our past.
Wild Strawberries is a symbolic tale of an old man’s journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance. And interestingly we can see Ingmar Bergman exploring in part his own past, even using his own dreams as inspiration. The film’s power lies in how personal it feels, but yet universal and easy to connect to despite the viewer being of a different age and generation. Simply put, I think this is a superb film and a great introduction to the filmmaker’s work. Do seek it out if you haven’t already, I believe it is a film that we can all relate to and you will be moved by it. I’m so glad that I have begun this journey into Bergman’s work, and I can’t wait to discover more wonders.