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Wild Strawberries (1959)

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This is my first Ingmar Bergman film.  I've had it on my screening list for a while.  Swedish director Victor Sjöström plays 78 year old Professor Isak Borg.  He has been awarded the degree of Doctor Jubilaris after a 50 year career as a physician.  Currently residing in Stockholm, the plot revolves around his long car journey from there to Lund where the ceremony is being held to honor him.   During the course of the journey the apparently cold charactered Borg has a chance to reflect on his childhood and young adult years.  His daughter in law and characters he meets in route trigger different memories he had. 

I had mixed feelings about the film.  First.  I didn't like the flashback aspect of the plot.  Borg's memories of his past were brought back thru dreams.  I didn't like the philosophy that was touched on in these sequences either.  It didn't make sense. Next, the main gist of the plot is his supposedly hard, cold character.  I felt this wasn't built up anywhere but in dialogue from his daughter in law.  For this reason the film didn't connect to me at the end when his character changed.  I would have ditched the dream sequences and built up his character in real time.  Another problem I had ( and I learned this is true with most of Bergman's films) is the serious tone of the majority of the characters.  Seems like everybody had some deep issue that was troubling them.  This issue was balanced out somewhat by the trio of young people that Borg let accompany him on his trip, but a lot of people will find it bothersome nevertheless.  One of the highlights of the film is these three people played by Bibi Andersson,  Folke Sundquist and Bjorn Bjelfvenstam.

I said I had mixed feelings about the film.  What I did love was the cinematography.  This is a gorgeous film. Gunnar Fischer did excellent work here.  The on location filming in Stockholm was gorgeous.  Even the scenes filmed on the studio lot were gorgeous.  Everything was deep and crisp.  The lighting and shadows were beautiful.  This alone makes the film worth viewing.  My final score for the film is 7.5 out of 10...

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