#133: Wild Strawberries (1957)

When and how did I watch this?

May 21st and 22nd, 2016, on Hulu Plus.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Ingrid Bergman has two other entries on this list so far: Persona and Fanny and Alexander. While both are unique and powerful in their own right, I thought Persona was convoluted and unclear, in contrast to the spectacular latter film. I had mixed feelings approaching this film.

What do I know about it now?

This story of an old man, soon to receive high honors for his profession while reflecting upon his past (occasionally in the form of unsettling dreams), gripped me from the start.  Bergman effectively establishes symbols and themes early on and keeps them going throughout the film.  I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the elderly doctor and the real and imagined presence of youth, which has both escaped him and returns honor to him. As in the other films, tense sequences and dramatic dialogue pervade the film. Bergman has a particular way of using close shots and shadowing to drum up tension.

What are some themes in the film?

Death, loyalty, love, honor, marriage

Did this affect me personally?

The opening sequence is unforgettable, along with the final farewell of the three young folks. The film can move you to tears as effectively as create anxiety.

Why is this ranked #133?

I poked around the IMDb message boards and discovered that Bergman was sort of a “hipster” director for college folks in the sixties, and rightfully so: he introduces complicated themes and uses cryptic dialogue in all three films I’ve seen.  This one is certainly the best of the three, and voters agree. It also seems to be the clearest and most relevant to the viewer.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She didn’t watch too much of this one.

Would I watch it again?

Yes.  Once again, it’s possible I overlooked stuff.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

One might find this film somewhat depressing, but nonetheless poignant.  Watch at your own risk.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

I think it does. While it got carried away in a couple of the dream scenes, I think the story is tight and avoids blending in with other films with the use of unusual cinematography and careful dialogue delivery.

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