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Wild Strawberries (1957)

Smultronstället (original title)
Unrated | | Drama, Romance | 22 June 1959 (USA)
After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.

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Top Rated Movies #141 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Dr. Evald Borg
Jullan Kindahl ...
Agda
Folke Sundquist ...
Anders
Björn Bjelfvenstam ...
Naima Wifstrand ...
Mrs. Borg, Isak's Mother
Gunnel Broström ...
Mrs. Alman
Gertrud Fridh ...
Karin Borg, Isak's wife
Sif Ruud ...
Aunt Olga
Gunnar Sjöberg ...
Sten Alman / The Examiner
...
Henrik Åkerman
Åke Fridell ...
Karin's lover
Yngve Nordwall ...
Uncle Aron
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Storyline

With the exception of his elderly housekeeper Miss Agda who he treats almost like a surrogate platonic wife, widowed seventy-eight year old Dr. Isak Borg, a former medical doctor and professor, has retreated from any human contact, partly his own want but partly the decision of others who do not want to spend time with him because of his cold demeanor. He is traveling from his home in Stockholm to Lund to accept an honorary degree. Instead of flying as was the original plan, he decides to take the day long drive instead. Along for the ride is his daughter-in-law Marianne, who had been staying with him for the month but has now decided to go home. The many stops and encounters along the way make him reminisce about various parts of his life. Those stops which make him reminisce directly are at his childhood summer home, at the home of his equally emotionally cold mother, and at a gas station where the attendants praise him as a man for his work. But the lives of other people they ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

22 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Wild Strawberries  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ingmar Bergman has described in the interview how he came up with the idea while driving from Stockholm to Dalarna, stopping in Uppsala where he had been born and raised, and driving by outside his grandmother's old house, when he suddenly began to think about how it would be if he could open the door and inside it would be just as it had been during his childhood. "So it struck me - what if you could make a film about this; that you just walk up in a realistic way and open a door, and then you walk into your childhood, and then you open another door and come back to reality, and then you make a turn around a street corner and arrive in some other period of your existence, and everything goes on, lives. That was actually the idea behind Wild Strawberries (1957)" See more »

Goofs

The front license plate on the VW disappears when untying the rope. See more »

Quotes

Professor Isak Borg: What is the punishment?
Sten Alman: The punishment? Well, I guess it'll be the usual.
Professor Isak Borg: The usual?
Sten Alman: Yes. The punishment is loneliness.
Professor Isak Borg: Is there no way out?
Sten Alman: Don't ask me. I don't know anything about these things.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Night Court: Bringing Down Baby (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

JA; MAA HAN LEVA!
(uncredited)
Traditional
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
When film was an art form
21 June 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In this symbolic tale of an old man's journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance, Ingmar Bergman explores in part his own past, and in doing so rewards us all with a tale of redemption and love.

Victor Sjostrom, then 80 years old, stars as Professor Isak Borg whose self-indulgent cynicism has left him isolated from others. Sjostrom, whose work goes back to the very beginning of the Swedish cinema in the silent film era, both as an actor and as a director, gives a brilliant and compelling performance. All the action of the film takes place in a single day with flashbacks and dream sequences to Borg's past as Borg wakes and goes on a journey to receive a "Jubilee Doctor" degree from the University of Lund. Bergman wrote that the idea for the film came upon him when he asked the question, "What if I could suddenly walk into my childhood?" He then imagined a film "about suddenly opening a door, emerging in reality, then turning a corner and entering another period of one's existence, and all the time the past is going on, alive."

Bibi Andersson plays both the Sara from Borg's childhood, the cousin he was to marry, and the hitchhiker Sara who with her two companions befriends him with warmth and affection. The key scene is when the ancient Borg in dreamscape comes upon the Sara of his childhood out gathering wild strawberries. Borg looks on (unnoticed of course) as his brother, the young Sigfrid, ravishes her with a kiss which she returns passionately; and, as the wild strawberries fall from her bowl onto her apron, staining it red, Borg experiences the pain of infidelity and heartbreak once again. Note that in English we speak of losing one's "cherry"; here the strawberries symbolize emotionally much the same thing for Sara. Later on in the film as the redemption comes, the present day Sara calls out to Borg that it is he that she really loves, always and forever. Borg waves her away from the balcony, yet we are greatly moved by her love, and we know how touched he is.

The two young men accompanying Sara can be seen as reincarnations of the serious and careful Isak Borg and the more carefree and daring Sigfrid. It is as though his life has returned to him as a theater in which the characters resemble those of his past; yet we are not clear in realizing whether the resemblance properly belongs in the old man's mind or is a synchronicity of time returned.

Memorable is Ingrid Thulin who plays Mariana, the wife of Borg's son who accompanies him on the auto trip to Lund. She begins with frank bitterness toward the old man but ends with love for him; and again we are emotionally moved at the transformation. What Bergman does so very well in this film is to make us experience forgiveness and the transformation of the human spirit from the negative emotions of jealousy and a cold indifference that is close to hate, to the redemption that comes with love and a renewal of the human spirit. In quiet agreement with this, but with the edge of realism fully intact, is the scene near the end when Borg asks his long time housekeeper and cook if they might not call one another by their first names. She responses that even at her age, a woman has her reputation to consider. Such a gentle comeuppance meshes well with, and serves as a foil for, all that has gone on before on this magical day in an old man's life.

See this for Bergman who was just then realizing his genius (The Seventh Seal was produced immediately before this film) and for Sjostrom who had the rare opportunity to return to film as an actor in a leading role many decades past him prime, and made the most of it with a flawless performance, his last major performance as he was to die three years later.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


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