Wild Strawberries (film)

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Wild Strawberries
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Allan Ekelund
Written byIngmar Bergman
Starring Victor Sjöström
Bibi Andersson
Ingrid Thulin
Gunnar Björnstrand
Music by Erik Nordgren
Cinematography Gunnar Fischer
Edited by Oscar Rosander
Distributed by AB Svensk Filmindustri
Release date
  • 26 December 1957 (1957-12-26)(Sweden)
Running time
91 minutes

Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means "The wild strawberry patch" but idiomatically signifies an underrated gem of a place, often with personal or sentimental value. The cast includes Victor Sjöström in his final screen performance as an old man recalling his past, as well as Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, and Gunnar Björnstrand. Max von Sydow also appears in a small role. Bergman wrote the screenplay while hospitalized. [1] Exploring philosophical themes such as introspection and human existence, Wild Strawberries is often considered to be one of Bergman's greatest and most moving films. [2]

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

Ingmar Bergman Swedish filmmaker

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer, and producer who worked in film, television, theatre and radio. Considered to be among the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of all time, Bergman's films include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982); the last two exist in extended television versions.

Swedish language North Germanic language spoken in Sweden

Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken natively by 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden, and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the dialect and accent of the speaker. Both Norwegian and Danish are generally easier for Swedish speakers to read than to listen to because of difference in accent and tone when speaking. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It has the most speakers of the North Germanic languages.



Grouchy, stubborn, and egotistical Professor Isak Borg is a widowed 78-year-old physician who specialized in bacteriology. Before specializing he served as general practitioner in rural Sweden. He sets out on a long car ride from Stockholm to Lund to be awarded the degree of Doctor Jubilaris 50 years after he received his doctorate from Lund University. He is accompanied by his pregnant daughter-in-law Marianne who does not much like her father-in-law and is planning to separate from her husband, Evald, Isak's only son, who does not want her to have the baby, their first.

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 962,154 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.5 million in the urban area, and 2.3 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Just outside the city and along the coast is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

Lund Place in Scania, Sweden

Lund is a city in the province of Scania, southern Sweden. The town had 91,940 inhabitants out of a municipal total of 121,510 in 2018. It is the seat of Lund Municipality, Skåne County.

A jubilee doctor or golden doctor is in some countries a person who has held a doctorate for 50 years or more. When 50 years have passed, the doctor is invited again by his or her university to the ceremony where the doctorates are conferred and is made jubilee/golden doctor and celebrated as a guest of honour. This custom is common in Germany, Sweden and Finland. In Germany, this ceremony is referred to as the "Golden Promotion". In Sweden, a person so honoured who holds, for instance, a doctorate of philosophy, may use the academic title fil.jubeldr instead of the regular fil.dr.

During the trip, Isak is forced by nightmares, daydreams, old age, and impending death to reevaluate his life. He meets a series of hitchhikers, each of whom sets off dreams or reveries into Borg's troubled past. The first group consists of two young men and their companion, a woman named Sara who is adored by both men. Sara is a double for the love of Isak's youth. The first group remains with him throughout his journey. Next Isak and Marianne pick up an embittered middle-aged couple, the Almans, whose vehicle has nearly collided with theirs. The pair exchanges such terrible vitriol and venom that Marianne stops the car and demands that they leave. The couple reminds Isak of his own unhappy marriage. In a dream sequence, Isak is asked by Sten Alman, now the examiner, to read “foreign” letters on the blackboard. He cannot. So, Alman reads it for him: "A doctor's first duty is to ask forgiveness," from which he concludes, "You are guilty of guilt." [3]

Nightmare unpleasant dream

A nightmare, also called a bad dream, is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind, typically fear but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. However, psychological nomenclature differentiates between nightmares and bad dreams, specifically, people remain asleep during bad dreams whereas nightmares awaken individuals. Further, the process of psychological homeostasis employs bad dreams to protect an individual's Homeostatically Protected Mood (HPMood) from the impact of elevated anxiety levels. During sleep, nightmares indicate the failure of the homeostatic system employing bad dreams to extinguish anxiety accumulated throughout the day. The dream may contain situations of discomfort, psychological or physical terror or panic. After a nightmare, a person will often awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a short period of time.

Daydream short-term detachment from ones immediate surroundings, during which a persons contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy

Daydreaming is the stream of consciousness that detaches from current external tasks when attention drifts to a more personal and internal direction. This phenomenon is common in people's daily life shown by a large-scale study in which participants spend 47% of their waking time on average on daydreaming. There are various names of this phenomenon including mind wandering, fantasy, spontaneous thoughts, etc. Daydreaming is the term used by Jerome L. Singer whose research programs laid the foundation for nearly all the subsequent research in this area today. The list of terminologies assigned by researchers today puts challenges on identifying the common features of the phenomenon, in this case daydreaming, and on building collective work among researchers.

Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings

Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle. Terms and euphemisms include old people, the elderly, seniors, senior citizens, older adults, and the elders.

He reminisces about his childhood at the seaside and his sweetheart Sara, with whom he remembered gathering strawberries, but who instead married his brother. He is confronted by his loneliness and aloofness, recognizing these traits in both his ancient mother (whom they stop to visit) and in his middle-aged physician son, and he gradually begins to accept himself, his past, his present, and his approaching death. [4] [5] [6] In one dream, he is quizzed by a very judgmental medical professor; he is also praised by a small-town merchant who remembers him.

Borg finally arrives at his destination and is promoted to Doctor Jubilaris, but this proves to be an empty ritual. That night, he bids a loving goodbye to his young friends, to whom the once bitter old man whispers in response to a playful declaration of the young girl's love, "I'll remember." As he goes to his bed in his son's home, he is overcome by a sense of peace, and dreams of a family picnic by a lake. Closure and affirmation of life have finally come, and Borg's face radiates joy.


Victor Sjöström Swedish film director, screenwriter and actor

Victor David Sjöström was a pioneering Swedish film director, screenwriter, and actor. He began his career in Sweden, before moving to Hollywood in 1924. Sjöström worked primarily in the silent era; his best known films include The Phantom Carriage (1921), He Who Gets Slapped (1924), and The Wind (1928). Sjöström was Sweden's most prominent director in the "Golden Age of Silent Film" in Europe. Later in life, he played the leading role in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957).

Bibi Andersson Swedish actress

Berit Elisabeth Andersson, known professionally as Bibi Andersson, was a Swedish actress who was best known for her frequent collaborations with the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

Ingrid Thulin Swedish actress

Ingrid Lilian Thulin was a Swedish film actress.



Ingmar Bergman (L) and Victor Sjostrom (R) in 1957, during production of Wild Strawberries in the studios in Solna. Bergman Sjostrom 1957.jpg
Ingmar Bergman (L) and Victor Sjöström (R) in 1957, during production of Wild Strawberries in the studios in Solna.

Bergman's idea for the film originated on a drive from Stockholm to Dalarna during which he stopped in Uppsala, his hometown. Driving by his grandmother's house, he suddenly imagined how it would be if he could open the door and inside find everything just as it was during his childhood. "So it struck me — what if you could make a film about this; that you just walk up in a realistic way and open a door, and then you walk into your childhood, and then you open another door and come back to reality, and then you make a turn around a street corner and arrive in some other period of your existence, and everything goes on, lives. That was actually the idea behind Wild Strawberries". [7] [ page needed ] Later, he would revise the story of the film's genesis. In Images: My Life in Film, he comments on his own earlier statement: "That's a lie. The truth is that I am forever living in my childhood." [8]

Dalarna Place in Svealand, Sweden

Dalarna is a landskap in central Sweden.

Uppsala Place in Uppland, Sweden

Uppsala is the capital of Uppsala County and the fourth-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. It had 168,096 inhabitants in 2017.


Bergman wrote the screenplay of Wild Strawberries in Stockholm's Karolinska Hospital (the workplace of Isak Borg) in the late spring of 1957; he'd recently been given permission to proceed by producer Carl Anders Dymling on the basis of a short synopsis. He was in the hospital for two months, being treated for recurrent gastric problems and general stress. Bergman's doctor at Karolinska was his good friend Sture Helander who invited him to attend his lectures on psychosomatics. Helander was married to Gunnel Lindblom who was to play Isak's sister Charlotta in the film. Bergman was at a high point of his professional career after a triumphant season at the Malmö City Theatre (where he had been artistic director since 1952), in addition to the success of both Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) and The Seventh Seal (1957). His private life, however, was in disarray. His third marriage was on the rocks; his affair with Bibi Andersson, which had begun in 1954, was coming to an end; and his relationship with his parents was, after an attempted reconciliation with his mother, at a desperately low ebb.[ citation needed ]

Casting and pre-production progressed rapidly. The completed screenplay is dated May 31. Shooting took place between July 2, 1957 and August 27, 1957. [9] The scenes at the summer house were filmed in Saltsjöbaden, a fashionable resort in the Stockholm archipelago. Part of the nightmare sequence was shot with predawn summer light in Gamla stan, the old part of central Stockholm. Most of the movie was made at SF's studio and on its back lot at Råsunda in northern Stockholm. [1]


The director's immediate choice for the leading role of the old professor was Victor Sjöström, Bergman's silent film idol and early counselor at Svensk Filmindustri, whom he had directed in To Joy eight years earlier. "Victor," Bergman remarked, "was feeling wretched and didn’t want to [do it];... he must have been seventy eight. He was misanthropic and tired and felt old. I had to use all my powers of persuasion to get him to play the part." [10]

In Bergman on Bergman, he has stated that he only thought of Sjöström when the screenplay was complete, and that he asked Dymling to contact the famous actor and film director. [11] Yet in Images: My Life in Film, he claims, "It is probably worth noting that I never for a moment thought of Sjöström when I was writing the screenplay. The suggestion came from the film's producer, Carl Anders Dymling. As I recall, I thought long and hard before I agreed to let him have the part." [12]

During the shooting, the health of the 79-year-old Sjöström gave cause for concern. Dymling had persuaded him to take on the role with the words: "All you have to do is lie under a tree, eat wild strawberries and think about your past, so it's nothing too arduous." This was inaccurate and the burden of the film was completely on Sjöström who is in all but one scene of the film. Initially, Sjöström had problems with his lines which made him frustrated and angry. He would go off into a corner and beat his head against the wall in frustration, even to the point of drawing blood and producing bruises. He sometimes quibbled over details in the script. To unburden his revered mentor, Bergman made a pact with Ingrid Thulin that if anything went wrong during a scene, she would take the blame on herself. Things improved when they changed filming times so that Sjöström could get home in time for his customary late afternoon whisky at 5:00. Sjöström got along particularly well with Bibi Andersson. [1]

As usual, Bergman chose his collaborators from a team of actors and technicians with whom he had worked before in the cinema and the theater. As Sara, Bibi Andersson plays both Borg's childhood sweetheart who left him to marry his brother and a charming, energetic young woman who reminds him of that lost love. Andersson, then twenty one years old, was a member in Bergman's famed repertory company. He gave her a small part in his films Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) and as the jester's wife in The Seventh Seal (1957). She would continue to work for him in many more films, most notably in Persona (1966). Ingrid Thulin plays Marianne, the sad, gentle and warm daughter-in-law of Borg. She appeared in other Bergman films as the mistress in Winter Light (1963) and as one of three sisters in Cries and Whispers (1972). Bergman's first wife, Else Fisher, made a brief uncredited appearance as Borg's mother in the final flashback; their daughter, Lena, played one of Isak's twin sisters.[ citation needed ]


Wild Strawberries received strongly positive reviews in Sweden; its acting, script, and photography were common areas of praise. [13] It was among the films that cemented Bergman's international reputation, [14] but American critics were not unanimous in their praise. A number of reviewers found its story puzzling. In The New York Times , Bosley Crowther lauded the performances of Sjöström and Andersson but wrote, "This one is so thoroughly mystifying that we wonder whether Mr. Bergman himself knew what he was trying to say." [15]

In a 1963 interview with Cinema magazine, director Stanley Kubrick listed the film as his second favourite of all time. [16] It is now considered one of Bergman's major works.

In 2012, the work was ranked 63rd in the Sight & Sound critics' poll of the greatest films ever made. [17] Its screenplay was listed in Total Film as one of the 50 best ever written. [18]

Awards and honors

The film won the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 8th Berlin International Film Festival, [19] "Best Film" and "Best Actor" at the Mar del Plata Film Festival and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 1960. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Original Screenplay, but the nomination was refused by Bergman. [20]

The film is included on the Vatican Best Films List, recommended for its portrayal of a man's "interior journey from pangs of regret and anxiety to a refreshing sense of peace and reconciliation". [21]


Wild Strawberries influenced the Woody Allen films Stardust Memories (1980), Another Woman (1988), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and Deconstructing Harry (1997). In Stardust Memories, the film's plot is similar in that the protagonist, filmmaker Sandy Bates (Woody Allen), is attending a viewing of his films, while reminiscing about and reflecting on his life and past relationships and trying to fix and stabilize his current ones, which are infused with flashbacks and dream sequences. In Another Woman, the film's main character, Marion Post (Gena Rowlands), is also accused by friends and relatives of being cold and unfeeling, which forces her to reexamine her life. [22] Allen also borrows several tropes from Bergman's film, such as having Lynn (Frances Conroy), Post's sister-in-law, tell her that her brother Paul (Harris Yulin) hates her and having a former student tell Post that her class changed her life. Allen has Post confront the demons of her past via several dream sequences and flashbacks that reveal important information to a viewer, as in Wild Strawberries. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, Allen made reference to the scene in which Isak watches his family have dinner. [23] In Deconstructing Harry, the plot (that of an academic on a long drive to receive an honorary award from his old university, as well as the people whom he picks up, while reflecting upon his life's experiences, with dream sequences) essentially mirrors that of Wild Strawberries. [24]

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  2. Murray, Edward (1978). Ten Film Classics: A Re-viewing. F. Ungar Publishing Co. ISBN   978-0-8044-2650-3.
  3. Erik Erikson “Wild Strawberries”.
  4. Malcolm, Derek (10 June 1999). "Ingmar Bergman: Wild Strawberries". The Guardian. London.
  5. Crowther, Bosley (23 June 1959). "Wild Strawberries (1957) NYT Critics' Pick". New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  6. Manvell, Roger. "Plot and review: SMULTRONSTÄLLET (Wild Stawberries)". filmreference.com.
  7. Björkman
  8. Bergman, Ingmar (1990). Images: my life in film. Arcade Publishing. p. 22. ISBN   9781559701860.
  9. "Smultronstället (1957) - Filming Locations". Swedish Film Institute (in Swedish).
  10. Björkman, Stig (1973). Bergman on Bergman. Simon and Schuster. p. 133.
  11. Björkman, pg. 131
  12. Bergman, pg. 24
  13. Steene, Birgitta (2005). Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide. Amsterdam University Press. p. 231. ISBN   9053564063.
  14. Nixon, Rob. "Wild Strawberries". Turner Classic Movies, Inc. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  15. Crowther, Bosley (June 23, 1959). "Screen: Elusive Message; Wild Strawberries' Is a Swedish Import". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2017. Crowther also notes “the English subtitles are not much help”, so some confusion was created by poor subtitles in the 1959 screening. To take just one example, in the review he states that it’s unclear if the main character was a physician or a doctor, whereas in the script this is eminently clear, in fact an important scene is when the traveling party stops to refuel and the gas attendant refuses to take payment for the gasoline and extols all the good that the “good doctor” has done for the community, to which the old man replies mostly to himself “maybe I should have stayed”.
  16. Ciment, Michel (1982). "Kubrick: Biographical Notes". The Kubrick Site. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  17. "'Wild Strawberries' (1957)". British Film Institute.
  18. Kinnear, Simon (September 30, 2013). "50 Best Movie Screenplays". Total Film. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  19. "Berlinale: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  20. Soares, Andre. "Ingmar Bergman vs. the Oscar". Alt Film Guide. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  21. "Vatican Best Films List". U.S. Catholic Bishops — Office of Film and Broadcasting. Archived from the original on 23 November 2001.
  22. "Another Woman". Chicago Sun-Times.
  23. Ebert, Roger. "Deconstructing Harry". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.