Wild Strawberries is such a conundrum of a film for someone like myself to talk about. There’s so much that happens within the course of Wild Strawberries‘s relatively short running time of 91 minutes which overwhelms the human emotion. The first moment in which I saw Wild Strawberries left me questioning the course of my life together with what I believed in, and I had not revisited it ever since because the concoction of my own expressions left me in a state, almost depressed yet I learned something more. This is something I highly admire Ingmar Bergman for, as no matter what he chooses to tackle, I always find there’s something worthy of being engrossed in. This is how I define a life-changing film, for it still managed to leave me in as much awe as it did on my first viewing.
It’s hard for myself to pinpoint where I found such a deep and resounding connection with Victor Sjöström’s portrayal of professor Isak Borg and his own struggles in regards to his past, and a feeling to which he is lacking of significance, but I knew there was something where I found myself sympathizing in a manner so strong it was soon unbelievable what I was witnessing on the screen. Even at such a young age, the feeling of insignificance is something that always has gotten to me. It gets to me in such a manner, I’ve even considered suicide then and there, and I’ve been afraid of letting myself out more because I just recognize myself as a soul who is so isolated from what’s out there and as I witness other people satisfied with what their life is already providing, I’m still trying to find that sort of happiness somewhere – it made Wild Strawberries a most affecting experience.
There’s obviously no coincidence to the fact that Victor Sjöström’s Isak Borg has the same initials as Ingmar Bergman, because it can certainly be felt that Wild Strawberries is indeed one of the director’s most personal works. The original Swedish title,Smulronstället, means “the wild strawberry patch,” signifying something of sentimental value, idiomatically speaking. In every life, there’s always a small object that still resonates with us for such a reason, which adds a new level of effectiveness to the sentimentality being addressed in Wild Strawberries. This is a film which is about the quest to find said object once more, for maybe it might be a key to the happiness which one is seeking out of their own life.
What really hits myself is the thoughtfulness to such a piece, as Ingmar Bergman was always one to allow his protagonists’ ideologies flow around, and not in the manner he would preach about them, but in a manner that we can always come closer to what we are viewing. Whether it be from how Bergman carefully scripted every word from his own experience (he was hospitalized while he was writing the screenplay) or his tenderness to sentimentality, it’s always clear that within Bergman’s films there is some sort of a metaphor coming by in regards to the values we are to find within life. Wild Strawberries may indeed be a film about Ingmar Bergman’s predicaments about what may come afterwards his hospitalization, for as he travels through memories, they disrupt supposed peacefulness because we are not appreciative enough of them. Looking at it from that angle, suddenly it was clear Wild Strawberries was even more heartbreaking an effort than I would have imagined.
Memories are our own ways to keep in touch with what we are valuing within life. If we fail to appreciate them enough, it will soon hit us that we may never be truly happy with how we are living. For how intelligently Ingmar Bergman goes around the hopefulness that we might not have noticed, suddenly a more heartbreaking result comes by. Our supposed source of true happiness becomes a realm of our deepest sadnesses, because of failure to appreciate memories that carry a significant sentimental value. It is Bergman at his most life-affirming, for he raises how happiness still exists, but whether “true” or “false” happiness exists is the real question at hand. The memories form all of our own lives, and as more come in, what happens after it has all gone away?
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Janus Films.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Allan Ekelund
Starring Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand
Release Year: 1957
Running Time: 91 minutes