#334 Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) (1957)

A striking, unsentimental portrait of aging, Wild Strawberries is the story of a day in Isak Berg’s life where a number of events, encounters, and dreams prompts him to examine the various events that have made him who he is and what knowledge of life he has gleaned from his experiences. Bergman’s film is immaculate, not for what it lacks, but for the weight of the emotional awareness that registers in even the smallest of moments that Berg encounters with Marianne, Sara, Evald, a bickering couple after a car accident, and even his housekeeper. “The inner and external details progressively throw more light upon the man…(with an) emotional honesty entirely in keeping with the voyage undergone by its protagonist” and is a masterpiece in everything it says using only the bare minimum of what it needs to exist (Andrew).

I enjoyed this film mainly for its subtlety. Everything Berman accomplishes is beautifully rendered in the smallest of details, and the fact that his honesty and striking knowledge of life is presented using only the thinnest of dialogue, quietest of shots, and most carefully arranged situations to comprise the plot, it is a wonder that the film even felt like it could be as successful as it is on paper. Still, it is perfect, from the performances to the cinematography. Perhaps my favorite shot was when he was brought flowers by the young lovers in the car, and the camera moves in for a close-up while the lighting, theatrical as it is in all of Bergman’s films, dims to a central spot on Isak’s face. When I first started watching the film, I thought the dream sequences and metaphors lazy, but as the film progressed and the importance of the past in this story came to the center of it, I let my guard down and came to appreciate how it was executed. This film was excellent for its sheer simplicity.

I watched Wild Strawberries on Criterion DVD (#139).



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