{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Wild Strawberries

After watching Fellini and Kurosawa, I wanted to open Bergman's account. Wild Strawberries was not my first choice to see the first Bergman movie. It was Seventh Seal but for unknown reason it is missing in DVD shop till date. I read a brief synopsis of Wild Strawberries before I rented it, I was not impressed by a story of a retiring Professor Isak Borg's journey to get an honorary doctorate. Like many of us, we tend to disregard old age and mock at our mortality. Watching Wild strawberries was just an exercise to watch Bergman then but it turned out more rewarding than expected.

From the opening lines, Wild Strawberries is hard hitting in its uniquely straight voice. Prof Isak's voice over says,

One's relationship with other people consists mainly of discussing and evaluating one's neighbor's conduct. Therefore I have found myself rather alone in my old age. This is not a regret but a statement of fact.

The film at once holds you with its voice of truth

This voice over continues and us tells little more about Professor and his little likes and dislikes which is followed by a strange dream about a handless clock and broken cart, then we move to professor's journey to Lund to get an honorary doctorate.

WS is not about old age and its perils but about life as such. It’s a nostalgic introspection of past and coming in terms with present. There are characters from old to very old, young to very young, all those depicting different Isak's. Isak is not an endearing person, having a bitter relationship with his son and daughter, his wife is no more and his relation with her was also not pleasant when she was alive. We come to know more about Isak, his childhood, his first love, his failed marriage though flashbacks in which the old Isak 'peek' through. There are other characters which board Isak's car. Notable are Sara and her two friends in love with Sara, this 'love triangle' was strikingly similar to Isak's own. In the journey, Isak gain some respect and love. All this look realistically empathetic because of the truly moving performance by Victor Sjöström. Although, it may be argued that Isak doesn't look as cold or as distant in present as he is referred in his past but it may be seen as a transformation that Isak has undergone with time.
Towards the end, when Isak has reached Lund and received his Doctorate and he was going to sleep, his voice over says:

Whenever I am restless or sad, I usually try to recall memories from my childhood, to calm down. This is the way it was that night too, and I wandered back to the summerhouse and the wild-strawberry patch and everything I had dreamed or remembered or experienced during this long day.
This pretty much sums the movie. WS is a life seen after its lived. We may try to go back and put a brick here or there, may be paint some walls differently, may be give more warmth to some portions or eat some wild strawberries sometimes. Its a reflection of past on present. Its the emotional train we board when we see the same around us that we have gone through.

This film is like a thick piece of bread with almost no butter, people may call it bland and almost suited as a textbook for film schools, but don't listen to this crap. This bread has delicious pieces of strawberries inside, if you can find them.

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