Friday, March 05, 2010

"Wild Strawberries" (Language - Swedish) (1957) - Movie Classics

Into the steps and finally to the doors of Ingmar Bergman’s classics, I watched “Wild Strawberries”, a tale so sweet and so compassionate that it pushes you to tears and then brings back to calm jubilation. Having been well reserved into the films of Bergman’s, I think there will be flurries of his films to be reviewed by me. After Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman is the director with a film making me completely comfortable of how much I will be enjoying this one and many of his. I feel like a man finding a rare treasure and knowing that there exists many more like this. This cannot be more wonderful for a tough week to end in a beautiful Friday evening.

Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström) is a lonely old man. The film begins with what might be called the greatest sentence about a laziness of a man not ready to be social or can also be called as an adamant man adherent to his principles. The line goes like this, “In our relations with other people, we mainly discuss and evaluate their character and behavior. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly so-called relations.” An artistic epitaph for a lone and sad man. But I infer a man respecting principles over relationship. A poetry on a conflict and that is how the rest of the film unfolds to its viewers.

Bergman makes death more deadlier than we would think and than leaps us with some icy cold people to make death a better option. These people in the terms of socially interaction are not the violent or dangerous beings but their nature kills the surroundings. The definition of an unconditional love is almost non-existent when we meet them. Fortunately it is all palatable in Bergman’s presentation but the profoundness strikes as the scene is finished.

Isak has led a successful career as a medical professional and now he is being honored. The film is the day leading to it. He has a frightening dream. He dreams of his death in how the dreams will be. Chaotic but precise in its meaning are these dreams. He gets up earlier and decides to drive instead of taking a flight. His 40 years of house keeper Miss Agda (Julian Kindahl) knows the man more than a wife would know her husband. They have a tiff right in the morning but make up as a cute old couple. His daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) comes down and decides to drive along with him to the destination where her husband and son of Isak will be waiting. Why she is with him will be answered and will provide the final nail in the coffin of this old man’s realization of the life he has led and left with.

Bergman like Kurosawa speaks as a wise old man in the most unexpected characters. As the journey begins, within couple of minutes Marianne mentions how much she dislikes Isak and Isak not surprised questions it, almost without interest. These characters speak the meanest things possible in the most sweetest way and the other characters receive it and give it right back at them. The clarity of meanness is entertaining but scares of knowing these people.

Isak is nice in the formal way and Marianne can see it like a transparent clean glass. She knows it because his son is a product of him. Due to the dream, Isak decides to stop at his childhood places. One being the summer house where his family of ten siblings along with other cousins spent their holidays. He flashes back to those days and he sees the people he vividly remembers.Sara (Bibi Andersson) is the love he lost to his brother. We learn that yearning and how it has caused the damage to the rest of his life.

These scenes where he goes as the old man and relives those are touch of genius. Isn’t most of our memories a first person experience than a young version of ourselves? How come none of the other film makers realize that? It is simple and obvious that it almost makes us idiotic to acknowledge those depictions. Bergman does not and he gives a realistic look on the memories we would see.

Along this ride, there are three young hitchhikers to Italy. A female coincidentally and rightfully named Sara rides along with two of his love interest of opposite beliefs. Viktor (Björn Bjelfvenstam) and Anders (Folke Sundquist) fight about god and science. They are full of life and are astonished by this great man. Isak looks at them with a smile. Along they see another couple whose broken marriage terrifies the others. But it brings back more nightmares to Isak in his dreams.

Bergman’s film will be desecrated to simply call it moving. It is a fable with flesh and blood. It is brutal in its people but gentle on its teachings. It feels for the people and treats them clinically. It gives history as a guiding lesson to their soul and finally lightens it up too with a touch of magic. Of all, “Wild Strawberries” is a classic to see and make amends, peace and happiness with the life we have, had and will end.

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