- The Seventh Seal arrived at Cannes in the spring of 1957- and then just a few short months later Wild Strawberries was released in Ingmar Bergman’s native Sweden just before the close of the year. Wild Strawberries would be a big part of the festival circuit in 1958.
- In Wild Strawberries, Professor Isak Borg (played by the greatest Swedish director of all-time until Bergman came along, Victor Sjöström) travels via car instead of plane- a last minute change by Borg- to receive an honorary degree. The trip is not only physical of course- but spiritual and existential. During the voyage Borg examines his own past and his relationships -most notably with his daughter in law (Ingrid Thulin as Marianne- her first archiveable film) and son (Gunnar Björnstrand as Dr. Evald Borg).
- Voiceover narration is not an overly common Bergman trait- but it used here (from Sjöström). The use of flashbacks is indeed a Bergman staple- as is the use of summer as a symbol for nostalgia and youth. The film’s title is about a memory- first love.
New to Bergman’s style in Wild Strawberries is the bold surrealism sequence. There is the watch with the eyes, the driverless carriage, a man with no face, a coffin- this is Jean Cocteau stuff- the safety nets are off for Bergman here in his eighteenth (18th) film. Bergman is not yet forty years old.
- Like say Dickens in “A Christmas Carol” or It’s a Wonderful Life– Bergman plays Sjöström as an adult in these flashbacks.
At the 19-minute mark Bibi Andersson is foreground left- framed by the railings on the staircase. Gunnel Lindblom is background right. Andersson plays a crucial role- a dual role- one character is Sara- the professor’s love interest from his youth- the other a hitchhiker.
- Bergman’s pen is sharp- the two hitchhiker suiters of Bibi’s character debate religion at lunch.
The strongest cinematic painting in the film is at the 54-minute mark with the birds dancing across the passenger side windshield. During the shot Sjöström’s face holds the reflection from the glass as Bergman uses a dissolve edit—gob smackingly beautiful.
- This is the final film appearance of Victor Sjöström. Bergman has used him before- in 1950’s To Joy and again Bergman uses shrewd casting. Sjöström plays an authoritative genius yet again (professor here, conductor inTo Joy). Sjöström’s work here is masterly. There is no sign of acting (and I mean that in the best possible way). His is an aged man, a cold man- fearful of a life unlived- far too safe and pious.
Bergman and cinematographer Gunnar Fischer (also worked on The Seventh Seal) capture a great shot water reflection at the 65-minute mark.
- It is 72-minutes before Björnstrand shows up. This role needs a strong presence and Björnstrand is pitch perfect. He is stern and angry. He is throwing hammers like his squire in The Seventh Seal. Bergmanisms- “It is absurd to bring children into this world…. This life sickens me.”
- The film ends on a dream back to the summer cottage- heaven- a harp, fishing, and picnic by the water.
- A Must-See film