Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Wild Strawberries (1957)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Wild Strawberries (1957, Swe.) (aka Smultronstället)

In Ingmar Bergman's allegorical, deeply-emotional road film:

  • the main character: Isak Borg (legendary silent film actor and Scandinavian director Victor Sjostrom), a 78 year-old widowed, wealthy, retired medical professor and doctor, who in the opening pre-credits lines - while sitting at his desk - described his lonely life (in voice-over): "In all our relations with other people, we mainly discuss and evaluate their character and behavior. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly all so-called relations. This has made my old age rather lonely. My life has been full of hard work and I am grateful. It began as toil for bread and butter and ended in a love for science. I have a son, also a doctor, who lives in Lund. He has been married for many years. They have no children. My old mother is still alive and is very active, despite her age. My wife Karin has been dead for many years"
  • Isak's opening, expressionistic dream sequence (also in voice-over) on a deserted city street ("In the early hours of June 1st, I had a weird and very unpleasant dream. I dreamt that during my morning walk, I lost my way among empty streets with ruined houses") where he looked up at a clock without hands (his own pocketwatch was also without hands), encountered a faceless figure who collapsed on the pavement with blood streaming out, and saw a driverless hearse pulled by horses with a coffin inside holding his own corpse
  • the lonely, melancholic professor's reassessment of his heartless, constrained and cold life while on a one-day, 300-mile car trip from Stockholm to his former university in Lund to receive an honorary degree in the Cathedral, while traveling with his pregnant daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), unhappily married and estranged to his physician son Evald (Gunnar Björnstrand); during the trip, he told her about his own unhappiness: "I was an unwanted child in a hellish marriage"
  • the sequences of his revisiting (both in his flashbacked imagination and literally) many of the landmarks of his past (his summer home where a patch of wild strawberries grew) that brought up long-lost memories and was a sentimental reminder of his onetime, long-departed sweetheart cousin Sara (Bibi Andersson) (through a young hitchhiker also named Sara), who married Isak's irresponsible, good-for-nothing brother Sigfrid (Per Sjöstrand); and at a gas station, the husband-wife owners Henrik and Eva Åkerman (Max von Sydow and Ann-Marie Wiman) recalled Isak's generosity to them years earlier
  • enroute, they stopped at the home of Isak's elderly mother (Naima Wifstrand) who showed Isak a box of mementos, including old toys and a pocket watch with no hands (the same one seen in his opening dream sequence); after the visit, Marianne reacted to Isak's mother with fears for her own pregnancy and later life: "I thought: That's his mother. An old woman, cold as ice, more forbidding than death. And this is her son, and there are light years between them. He himself says he's a living corpse. And Evald is growing just as lonely, cold and dead. And I thought of the baby inside me. All along the line, there's nothing but cold and death and loneliness. It must end somewhere"
  • after the ceremony awarding Isak a degree, the satisfying, well-deserved and peaceful conclusion when he appeared to come closer to his daughter-in-law and her husband Evald - he cancelled Evald's long-standing enormous debt, and helped to bring them together and reconcile their marriage; his dreams would no longer torment him


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