Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wild Strawberries. (1957) Ingmar Bergman

I had a very strong reaction to Wild Strawberries when I recently watched it again. It's probably been close to ten years since I last saw it. I think this is the third time I’ve seen it, but it is definitely the first time it really moved me.

Apparently, I’m getting old.

This is the perfect example of a film that's going to grow with you as you age, because in many aspects the film is about aging.

An elder doctor on his way to a ceremony in his honor travels by car with his daughter-in-law, who kindly tells him why he’s despised as a cold, calloused old stickler. They meet two sets of travelers which, each in different ways, compliment the initial conversation the two started earlier.

The old man has quite a few moments where he falls into dream-like states, either reflecting on his youth, mistakes made years ago, or in actual dreaming, being judged by his peers now for advancing so far in the community to the neglect of those closest to him. Several of these stages of dream consciousness are unnerving. They are cruel taunts of his guilt, accusation at his life's choices.

He seems to understand that even now, in his old age, all is not lost. He still has time to do something about the guilt. He can find redemption from those in his dream who would accuse him of growing old and calloused. There's the idea here that maybe, just maybe, someone can actually change when they see how wrong they are, no matter the age, no matter how far they’ve gone astray. It's just one small aspect you can admire in the story. I’m sure there are more but that’s the one that really stands out to me now.

Bergman, ever the auteur, is all over this thing. He wrote and directed it at a moment when he was struggling with identity, his role on the planet and whether or not there was still a God who was interested in the struggle. It shows in his art, and as he did so many times through the years, he made a film we connect with. We wonder with him at the wonder of life, guilt, redemption, and that the cosmost might be involved in all of it, but then again, they might not be -- but there always seems to be a hope that weighs in on the positive side.

No one is making films like this anymore. We settle for so much less. Where have all the auteurs gone?

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