remains of a half-torn ticket

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Smultronstället aka Wild Strawberries(1957)

Movie: Smultronstället
Genre: Drama
Language: Swedish
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10 (Top 250: #130 )
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings:
8.8/10 (Tomatometer 94%)
91 mins

Ever someone tried to articulate the existential dilemma, and the quest to the unknown, from a lens perspective, Bergman it was! After watching the intense last scene of 'The seventh seal', it was inescapable to leave out on a more contemporary Bergman interpretation and hence 'The wild strawberries' had to happen.

The best thing about reviewing such movie is that one is not afraid of spilling out parts of plot that could spoil the movie for those who haven't seen them. So here is the regular dose of the plot: The movie revolves around an old Professor Isak Borg, a successful scholar who has insulated himself from all relationships and the human threads around. He decides to get isolated from them all and live with a housekeeper at a far away place. And when he has to travel to receive an honorary award after 50 years of medical practice, shaken by a demented dream he decided to take the road way where he introspects, looks into his past, his sulking and hitchhikes some interesting lads.

It would be an understatement to say that this is a wonderful piece of art. Said over and over again by a lot people, Wild Strawberries is an amazing display of the existential confusions and the traumatic fistfights that shakes the inner self of a person. How many times it happens that suddenly the philosophical part in you suddenly gets going and the flurry of questions make you feel devoid of reason for existence. Though based for an old professor who has seen it all, a lot of us will find some connection with the wild strawberries theme of dissociation and dispassion.

Traditionally, I read about a movie after watching it, what people feel about it, and specially if a movie is consider to be an out-of-the-world creation, it's always great to see different perspectives of people around it. A movie like wild strawberries creates only a dual-opinion set, there won't be a lot of people who will feel just 'ok' about it. Either you find firm lovers or apparently sleepers who are unable to stay up with the timely and intentional speed of the movie.

The initial 10 minutes of the movie launch a wonderful beginning, specially the dreadful dream sequence, something you would expect in a Bergman scene. Bergman conveniently uses death as a strong portraying tool (not as extravagantly as he did in The seventh seal where death is the protagonist itself) and switches swiftly between the two paradigms.

Talking about the characters now:

Victor Sjöström: The 'director' plays Dr. Isak Borg, the protagonist. Certainly a 10 on 10 performance. A straight face to life, never played so beautifully ever. His last movie as an actor and to sign off in a manner like this, commendable!

Ingrid Thulin: Plays a charming lady, smiling but upset about the hereditary loneliness of his husband and the rigid avoidance of her father in law. Pretty amazing work.

Bibi Andersson: Another Bergman regular, who is seen in dual role, both named Sara. Chirpy and tense. Bergman does have these bipolar characters in his movies, something peculiar about his movies.

A movie with graet performances and a very deserving classic tag, but while I continue to read about it more and more, it makes the feeling even stronger that this movie has an autobiographical essence of Bergman, this is certainly a strong reason to think on this story line and making something so deep and engulfing.