Yesterday, the Criterion Collection released their Blu-Ray edition of Ingmar Bergman’s brilliant masterpiece Wild Strawberries. The iconic work of art house cinema tells a journey of self-discovery in the painfully honest and beautifully-crafted way that only Bergman can—winning him a Golden Bear in 1958 as well as an Oscar nomination in 1960. "The phenomenon of old age wherein childhood memories return with ever-increasing clarity while great stretches of the prime of life vanish into obscurity is the nub of Wild Strawberries," a film that deals with the essence of fear.
And speaking to the film, Mark Le Fanu said:
Wild Strawberries is not about illness (though it is certainly about the pain of old age); it is not, except as a minor excursus in the case of Isak’s mother, about different generations hating one another; and it is not—emphatically not!—about any problems that follow from having too many wives. No, the film tells a story in its own right; it has the dignity of third-person narrative. Isak Borg, the protagonist, and Ingmar Bergman, the director, share the same initials, but they are not otherwise linked in obviously discoverable ways—indeed, it is strange to learn, given how memorably the aged actor stamps the part as his own, that the role of Isak was not even written with Sjöström in mind. All great films have multiple miracles attached to them, the greatest miracle here perhaps being that this legendary actor-director—one can really call him the founder of Swedish cinema—should have still been alive when needed, that someone should have inspiredly thought of him, and that he should have been willing to take the part when it was offered to him…These things can be said, then, without denying that the film is autobiographical; if we couldn’t guess it ourselves, we have Bergman’s word for it. Plainly, he believed that in some vital way he was the unwanted child of quarreling parents, and that no amount of talent and ambition could make up for this—it was a guilt he would need to carry to the grave. But I believe it is wrong to overemphasize these connections and what one might call the movie’s existentialism. There is torment aplenty in Wild Strawberries, but the film is not really about torment, I think—indeed, the contrary. Mention was made earlier of the calmness and sanity of its closing episodes, and it is time to dwell a little more on those qualities. Surely, all along, it has been impossible to miss the movie’s good humor. The viewer who is alert to tone can’t fail to have remarked the way in which courtesy, lightness, and gaiety govern so many of its major sequences.