WILD STRAWBERRIES: CRITERION COLLECTION

 

 

OFFICIAL CRITERION DISC NUMBER: 139

THE STORY SO FAR:

The film that catapulted Bergman to the forefront of world cinema is the directorâ??s richest, most humane movie. Traveling to receive an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg (masterfully played by the veteran Swedish director Victor Sjöström), is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and accept the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries captures a startling voyage of self-discovery and renewed belief in mankind.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • New digital transfer
  • – Commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work, a 90-minute documentary by filmmaker and author Jörn Donner
  • – Stills gallery, featuring rare behind-the-scenes photos
  • – New and improved English subtitle translation
  • – Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

 

THE CRITICISM

In this symbolic tale of an old man’s journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance, Ingmar Bergman explores in part his own past, and in doing so rewards us all with a tale of redemption and love.

 

Victor Sjostrom, then 80 years old, stars as Professor Isak Borg whose self-indulgent cynicism has left him isolated from others. Sjostrom, whose work goes back to the very beginning of the Swedish cinema in the silent film era, both as an actor and as a director, gives a brilliant and compelling performance. All the action of the film takes place in a single day with flashbacks and dream sequences to Borg’s past as Borg wakes and goes on a journey to receive a “Jubilee Doctor” degree from the University of Lund. Bergman wrote that the idea for the film came upon him when he asked the question, “What if I could suddenly walk into my childhood?” He then imagined a film “about suddenly opening a door, emerging in reality, then turning a corner and entering another period of one’s existence, and all the time the past is going on, alive.”

 

Bibi Andersson plays both the Sara from Borg’s childhood, the cousin he was to marry, and the hitchhiker Sara who with her two companions befriends him with warmth and affection. The key scene is when the ancient Borg in dreamscape comes upon the Sara of his childhood out gathering wild strawberries. Borg looks on (unnoticed of course) as his brother, the young Sigfrid, ravishes her with a kiss which she returns passionately; and, as the wild strawberries fall from her bowl onto her apron, staining it red, Borg experiences the pain of infidelity and heartbreak once again. Note that in English we speak of losing one’s “cherry”; here the strawberries symbolize emotionally much the same thing for Sara. Later on in the film as the redemption comes, the present day Sara calls out to Borg that it is he that she really loves, always and forever. Borg waves her away from the balcony, yet we are greatly moved by her love, and we know how touched he is.

 

The two young men accompanying Sara can be seen as reincarnations of the serious and careful Isak Borg and the more carefree and daring Sigfrid. It is as though his life has returned to him as a theater in which the characters resemble those of his past; yet we are not clear in realizing whether the resemblance properly belongs in the old man’s mind or is a synchronicity of time returned.

 

THE BREAKDOWN

  • Video: The best that I’ve ever seen this film look.
  • Audio: Mono
  • Extras: Commentary, Still Gallery and Documentary
  • Packaging: Keepcase
  • Final Score: 100% – A+

 

RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!

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