The Purple Coat Club met last Thursday to watch Wild Strawberries, (or Smultronstället in its native Swedish). This was another one of our 'Golden Oldies', dating from 1957 and directed and written by Ingmar Bergman.
It follows a day in the life of Professor Isak Borg, who is heading to Lund to collect an award for his service to Medicine. The Professor decides to drive to Lund rather than fly, which involves some hours, providing the chance to reminisce - we see in flashback some of the defining moments of the Professor's life. In addition to these memories are the disturbing sequences of the Professor's uncomfortable dreams.
The main theme of the film concerns Isak's lack of compassion and empathy throughout his life, and the realisation that his award amounts to nothing, given he is seen as a bitter, cold old man. His emotionless character is reflected by his 'weak heart', and his disastrous marriage has given rise to a son with all the same problems.
An undertone to the film is the superiority of men and the role of the woman is clearly defined. This perhaps reflects the age of the film, but fits in with Isak's mentality. His relationship with his housekeeper is one that could progress to that of a loving old couple, but the pair are both as bad as one another, and refuse to drop any formalities.
The Professor's catharthis provides the climax and ending of the film; where he realises the mistakes he has made and how they have made him the man he is. He then sleeps, and the film ends, leaving the viewer suspended - will he wake up?
We enjoyed the style of the film and its quirky manner, and agreed that the dream sequences were its hallmark, making it a memorable piece.