The perfection of Wild Strawberries is enhanced by its isolation in Bergman’s work; immaculate on a plateau of acceptance, it has been unruffled by later storms, and its neat balance of pain with comfort, sorrow with joy, has remained in perpetual harmony. As a film of love, it has uniquely at its centre the peacefully unselfish performance of Victor Sjostrom, grand old man of Swedish silent cinema, before whose presence lesser matters of doubt and despair could be allowed to fade away. Its theme, as had been the case for so much of Bergman’s work in the 1950s, is the coherence of family relationships. Professor Isak Borg (Sjostrom), lonely as the nightmare of himself confronting his own coffin in the bleak highway of shuttered windows and timeless clocks, finds the solution to his problem of death-in-life in a pilgrimage through the territory he knew as a young man. In the evocation of the family birthday party, in the memory of his parents by a summer lakeside, he discovers the love that slipped so long ago out of his own marriage and made it empty.
1958.English subtitles.Black and white.90 mins.