Wild Strawberries

{ed note: review copied from an earlier blog of mine}

After having subjected myself to a litany of horrible Hollywood movies the past couple weeks, I thought I would try an old school classic of world cinema, Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman.  This 1957 film seemed to have a storyline of something that would interest me.  From the Criterion Collection cover, an old man “is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and accept the inevitability of his approaching death”. Though it sounded right along the contemplative, though provoking film I was looking for, I ended up disappointed in what I thought was a lack of depth.

Wild Strawberries, Criterion Collection  DVD Cover
Wild Strawberries, Criterion Collection DVD Cover

I know from reading critical reviews, as well as user reviews on Amazon, this is one of those movies that you are “supposed to” like.   Sorry people, there is no depth here.  For instance, there is a brief debate between a couple characters on the existence of God.  This could have led to meaty dialogue, but instead remained so surface level and sophomoric that it added little to the story.  The regrets that the main character has to come to terms with are artistically dealt with (lots of symbolism), but not intellectually explored.  The result is a movie that is art, but a modern art that does not speak to the viewer easily, without someone whispering to you what it means and how you should feel.

Do not get me wrong.  The movie is not bad.  The acting, especially Victor Sjostrom as the old professor, and Ingrid Thulin as his daughter in law, is top notch.  Sjostrom’s facial expressions are especially good, portraying a transformation going on in his soul, without needing words for the viewer to understand what is happening.  The make-up of the story’s themes are important, especially that which makes one question what is really important in life.  What is success?  What will you regret in your last days?

I give the film credit for trying to be serious and thought provoking, but just asking the deep questions, or simply having a theme that sounds weighty, does not make a great movie.  The eternal questions are not explored.  Symbolism represents ideas, but ideas that are never explored.   The viewer is simply not pulled in emotionally or intellectually to the level needed to call this movie anything but well put together artistically.  I would love to hear from any of you that have seen this that could enlighten me as to what I am missing!

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