Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1957)

Smultronstället_poster_goldposter_com_7Directed by: Ingmar Bergman. Ohhh, Bergman. Good old Bergman! The many, many, many films of Bergman that I am familiar with, in fine detail, ohhhh Bergman. Of all of those many films with which I’m intimately familiar, of all his whole varied and interesting filmography, I believe that this one is the most striking to my sensibilities at the present moment. Seriously though, I really loved this one, and I loved this old guy, Victor Sjöström, who carried the whole thing. The pacing was really great, giving enough time to build the central relationship between him and his daughter-in-law (Ingrid Thulin) on their road trip, but leaving room for a bunch of other relationships, different character types, and a shit ton of dreams and flashbacks, so that by the end of the movie you really feel like you’ve lived a little bit of life, rather than just sat around for 2 hours. Maybe it’s cheesy to say but this is one of those movies that make you feel like you’ve actually invested your time, actually enriched your life by spending 2 hours watching a movie. And it would be dismissive to call it a “feel-good” movie, because so much of what the film is about is centered on a feeling of palpable unease, a mixture of warm nostalgia, pride, shame, and dread for the dark uncertainty of death that can only be conveyed through some Scandinavian language. Those dream sequences, especially the first one, were of the sort that, like Maya Deren, sneak down into your brain and talk to something in your subconscious you didn’t know was there, partly terrifying, partly reassuring. And maybe that’s what this film is to me—it presents an opportunity for something really sweet, almost a Diving Bell and the Butterfly type feeling, but it never gets that far because there’s so much unease; not despair, not quite angst, just unease, perhaps something like Kierkegaard’s “fear” (but I shouldn’t go there because I know so little of it). This is a wholesome, positive, not-quite-sentimental look at a life lived, but in an unmistakably godless universe. Definitely a re-watcher, to put it lightly.

2 responses to “Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1957)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2015 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Autumn Sonata (Sweden/West Germany, 1978) | Offhand Reviews·

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