Diverse people/cultures constitute this world and such diversity is reflected via the cinematic experience. Film emanates the entire infrastructure of a people’s culture (gender, age, creed, race, personal impressions, ideas, emotions, prejudices and religious/political/ economic/educational institutions, etc.).
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At the height of the 20th century, many countries witnessed a rise in cinematic prominence and Sweden was no exception. Gustaf Molander, Alf Sjöberg, Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller and most recently Lasse Hallström as well as Lukas Moodysson brought prominence and popularity to Swedish film. Among this distinguished cadre of Swedish filmmakers is the accomplished and prolific Ingmar Bergman.
A repertoire comprised of over sixty documentaries and films (television and cinema) as well as one hundred and seventy theatrical plays, Bergman’s work featured a typical element of Swedish film – slow pacing and austere landscapes. His distinctive style/attribute and contribution, however, was exploration of human emotions and its vast landscape with death, illness, betrayal, and insanity as the focus.
Bergman’s 1957 film, Wild Strawberries, is superbly characteristic his style. Wild Strawberries was written and directed by Bergman and has an acclaimed cast of Swedish actors, among them Max von Sydow. Deemed a classic and one of Bergman’s best films, thought-provoking themes such self acceptance and discovery as well as human existence constitute the thematic core of the film.
Bergman wrote the screenplay while hospitalized and such experience served as an impetus. Wild Strawberries is character and plot driven in that the two intertwined bring the fundamental themes to the surface and explain them. The film chronicles the emotional voyage of an elderly physician named Eberhard Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström).
This emotional journey filled with self introspection/re-evaluation is introduced at the onset of the film with Borg’s opening statement – “In our relations with other people, we mainly discuss and evaluate their character and behaviour. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly all so-called relations (Wild Strawberries).
At seventy years old, Borg appears to have come to a point in which evaluation of his behaviour and character is of primary concern rather than others. The journey unfolds as he travels to receive an honorary degree/award at Lund University. Such accolade, however, has no value and does not bring him happiness for he comments prior to his trip “Honorary Doctor! They might as well appoint me Honorary Idiot (Wild Strawberries).”
During the 400 mile sojourn from Stockholm to Lund, in which he is accompanied by his daughter-in law – Mariaane (Ingrid Thulin), Borg seventy eight years old, undergoes a life assessment or revaluation process.
The various people he meets along the way force him to confront various personas about himself (aloofness, loneliness, etc.), his past and relationships (mother, son, etc.) that contributed to his behaviour. Self examination also comes in the form of nightmares and daydreams throughout the film. At the conclusion, Borg comes to terms with himself (past, present, self acceptance) and immanent death which in the beginning he greatly feared.
Smultronstället is the original Swedish title for the film and translated literally means wild strawberry patch. Idiomatically the title refers to something underrated or devalued yet possesses sentimental or personal value. Self awareness, value, acceptance, and even love appear to be the sentimental and personal emotions at the core of Bergman’s focus/message and for this reason Ingmar Bergman Wild Strawberries’ impact will remain indelible.
Wild Strawberries (1957). Web.