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After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.
For more about Wild Strawberries and the Wild Strawberries Blu-ray release, see Wild Strawberries Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 7, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jullan Kindahl, Folke Sundquist
» See full cast & crew
Wild Strawberries Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 7, 2013
Ingmar Bergman's "Smultronstallet" a.k.a "Wild Strawberries" (1957) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include a short introduction to the film by the legendary Swedish director; audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie; silent footage filmed by Ingmar Bergman on the set of "Wild Strawberries", with comments from Jan Wengstrom, curator of archival film collections at the Swedish Film Institute; and a documentary film from 1998 featuring a lengthy conversation between director Ingmar Bergman and writer and filmmaker Jorn Donner. The release also arrives with a 16-page illustrated booklet featuring Mark Le Fanu's essay "Where Is the Friend I Seek?". In Swedish, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Dr. Isak Borg (Victor Sjöstrom, To Joy) and his beautiful daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin, The Damned, Night Games) are traveling through the Swedish countryside. At the end of their journey Dr. Borg will be presented with a special award at Lund University, one of Europe's oldest academic institutions.
While driving, Dr. Borg, who is in his late seventies, and Marianne talk about the different vices men and women have. Then they discuss Marianne's relationship with Evald (Gunnar Bjornstrand, Persona), Dr. Borg's son. The conversation quickly becomes too honest and Marianne confesses to Dr. Borg that she dislikes him because he is a ruthless egoist with old-fashioned views of the world they share. Marianne also reveals to Dr. Borg that Evald is equally frustrated with his coldness.
Hoping to cheer up Marianne, Dr. Borg decides to show her his summer house. The wild strawberries around the house, however, bring back painful memories. In one of them Dr. Borg sees his beautiful cousin Sara (Bibi Anderson, The Girls, The Passion of Anna), whom he loved dearly. Sara married his brother, Sigfrid Borg (Per Sjostrand), and broke his heart.
Back on the road, Dr. Borg and Marianne meet a group of hitchhikers and a couple that crashes their car while arguing. One of the hitchhikers, Sara, looks exactly like the girl Dr. Borg never stopped loving.
Eventually, the travelers reach the house of Dr. Borg's nonagenarian mother. Having spent the bigger part of the journey thinking about the many triumphs and failures in his life, Dr. Borg quietly retires to his room and goes to bed. Then once again he begins dreaming.
Wild Strawberries is the most beautiful of Ingmar Bergman's pessimistic films. There are splashes of humor in it, but its effective depiction of the suffocating loneliness elderly people struggle with towards the end of their lives is indeed quite depressing.
Dr. Borg is played by the legendary Swedish director Victor Sjostrom (The Phantom Carriage), Bergman's idol. While traveling back to Lund, the doctor remembers some of the most exciting moments from his life – some are positive experiences, others are enormously disappointing ones. But at this point the nature of these experiences is irrelevant – what the doctor needs from them is a spark that will make him feel alive again.
As it is the case with the majority of Bergman's films, Wild Strawberries is filled with plenty of symbolism. The cold breath of Death is also easily felt throughout the film. For example, in one of his dreams the doctor witnesses his own death. And in a different dream he fails an important exam before a disturbingly honest colleague, which is another way of implying that his time has passed.
At the end of the film Bergman shows the doctor at peace with his life. Here he is also a more compassionate man. But looking carefully at his tired eyes one also gets the feeling that he might have given up and is simply waiting for the inevitable to happen.
The film was lensed by the legendary cinematographer Gunnar Fischer (Smiles of a Summer Night, The Magician). It is indescribably beautiful. My favorite sequence is the one where the doctor slowly enters the strawberry patches - symbolizing rebirth in Sweden – in front of his old summer house.
Note: In 1958, Wild Strawberries won Pasinetti Award (Ingmar Bergman) at the Venice Film Festival. Two years later, the film also earned Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen.
Wild Strawberries Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.32:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new 2K digital transfer was created on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative at Chimney Pot in Stockholm. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using Image Systems' Phoenix and the Foundry's NUKE.
Transfer supervisors: Mats Forsberg, Peter Bengtsson.
Colorist: Mats Holmgren/Chimney Pot, Stockholm.
Scanning: Jonas Jangvad, Chimney Pot, Stockholm.
Restoration: Chimney Pot, Stockholm."
The folks at Chimney Pot have produced a high-definition transfer that is every bit as impressive as the one used for the Blu-ray release of Ingmar Bergman's beautiful film Summer with Monika. Detail and clarity are simply outstanding. Close-ups, and especially the ones with plenty of natural light, boast wonderful depth (see screencapture #3). The different panoramic shots also convey superb fluidity (screencapture #7). Contrast levels are stable. There are no traces of problematic denoising corrections. There are no traces of sharpening corrections either. Grain is evenly distributed throughout the entire film and beautifully resolved. Excluding a few transitions where some very quick frame overlapping is present, there are absolutely no stability issues to report in this review. Finally, it is obvious that the film has been carefully cleaned up as it looks incredibly healthy. All in all, this is a very strong and very convincing organic presentation of Wild Strawberries that is guaranteed to impress its fans. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Wild Strawberries Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: Swedish LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The audio is consistently crisp and very clear. The dialog is stable and easy to follow while the random nature sounds are easy to identify. There are no sudden audio dropouts or high-frequency distortions. Also, there is no annoying background hiss or random clicks and pops. The English translation is outstanding.
Wild Strawberries Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Wild Strawberries Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There is nothing that I could say about Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries that has not already been said by someone else. So I am just going to encourage you to do whatever it takes to add this beautiful release to your collections - Wild Strawberries is an essential film to see and own from one of cinema's greatest directors. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Wild Strawberries Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Announces June Titles - March 18, 2013
The Criterion Collection has announced five titles for Blu-ray release in June. On June 11, the studio will release Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957). On June 18th, it will release William Cameron Menzies' Things to Come (1936), František Vlácil's Marketa ...
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