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25 FEBRUARY 2011

Wild Strawberries: falling backwards through memories

Ingmar "Bergman's restless mind wouldn't even leave him to rest during a brief hospital stay, which is where he wrote the script for one of his earliest forays into the nature of age, memory and self–reflection. The core of the film had come to him the previous year while driving through his old hometown of Uppsala, past his grandmother's house. His fertile imagination wondered how it might be if he could open the door and step back into his own childhood, and from this kernel grew Wild Strawberries. In Swedish the title of Smultronstället has deeper meaning than just referring to a wild strawberry patch, it has a colloquial sense of a place invested with personal or sentimental value, often undervalued until it returns to memory in a nostalgic fashion. Which is precisely what the lead character of Isak Borg experiences throughout the film, falling backwards through his memories, attempting to make sense of his life in his final years. It's not an unusual thing for a Bergman film to be filled with casual slips between reality and dreams/memories, or to be populated with characters whose role is to aid our protagonist on his/her internal quest, but the lead character is not what we might envision in Bergman's work. Isak Borg is not a cruel man, but his self–centred cynicism and rampant egotism set him apart from the majority of other Bergman leads. But he needs to be such a vaguely unlikable character for the audience to experience the full impact of his self–realisation, dragged through a series of memories and forced to confront his continuing failures and inadequacies. A loveable, upright character would not have been able to supply so much powerful redemption in the final reel."

(Craig Andrews, Media Resource Centre)



195735mmacross timeanalepsischildhoodchronological timecircular narrative structuredreamfilmimaginationin the mindIngmar Bergmaninternal quest • Iris Cinema • Lund Universitymemory • Mercury Cinema • nostalgiapastpersonalself-realisationself-reflection • Smultronstallet • SwedishSwedish filmmaker • Uppsala • Wild Strawberries (1957)


Simon Perkins

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