Wild Strawberries (1957)

wild strawberries poster 1957 movie ingmar bergman
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Layered movie that can sustain multiple viewings

Difficult movie that isn't for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Wild Strawberries

Studio: AB Svensk Filmindustri

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 26, 1957 (Sweden)/June 22, 1959 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


The joys of unspoiled youth

Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström) is about to receive an honorary diploma from his university for his years in service as a doctor.  After suffering a nightmare, Isak chooses to drive from Stockholm to Lund and finds his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) as his passenger.  Driving, Isak visits places of his childhood, picks up three young hitchhikers, and begins to realize he needs to reconcile his past before it is too late.

Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) is widely considered Bergman’s greatest achievement and followed his other critically acclaimed film The Seventh Seal also in 1957.  The movie is the final film of the Swedish actor Victor Sjöström and was nominated for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay—Written Directly for the Screen.  Wild Strawberries was remastered and released by Criterion (Criterion #139).


Flowers for the Professor

When you get into “serious” movies, Wild Strawberries is a title that always pops up (along with a lot of Bergman’s work).  The movie on the surface is pretty simple.  A guy going to receive an award and the people he meets on the way, but the movie has a lot of deepness to it that leads viewers to be able to watch it over and over again.

The story is about the past and facing death.  Isak is essentially traveling through his life on the journey and seeing the mistakes he made, seeking the beauty of youth, feeling the sadness that life is ending, and realizing that good or bad his actions will continue to affect people (and the past affected him).  You learn that Isak has been cold and that coldness is reflected in his son’s treatment of his wife Marianne and you see that Isak wasn’t always like that (but it is indicated that his mother is like Isak).  The movie deals with the idea that you can’t change the past but you need to have to come to terms with it in order not to fear death.


Dreams of what is lost

Victor Sjöström at the time was in poor health and you can see this in his performance…which in turn enhances it.  He is at the end of his life like his character and that had to have some influence on his acting.  The movie’s young characters are led by Bibi Andersson who does bubble with youth in the movie.  Ingrid Thulin does a nice job as Marianne who seems to finally get swayed to Isak’s side by the end of the film and Gunnar Björnstrand plays Isak’s son who is following in his father’s footsteps.  I particularly like the creepy-as-hell twins played by Monica Ehrling and Lena Bergman (Bergman’s daughter).   Bergman regular Max von Sydow has a small role as a gas attendant who shows the good that Isak did in his life.


Creepy, unison talking twins

The movie is full of interpretational dreams.  Part of the fun of the movie is trying to figure out what Isak’s dreams mean.  This gave Bergman a lot of leeway to not only show some strange imagery but also contrast it with the beauty of Sweden.  He does great jobs with the flashbacks as well to tie in the surroundings of the trip.

Wild Strawberries is a great film that deserves to be seen multiple times.  It is the type of film that can change through a viewer’s life as it is a movie that represents different stages of life and the emotions that go with them.  It is smart, thoughtful, and poignant…plus, I’d rank those creepy twins up there with the Shining kids.  Bergman followed Wild Strawberries with Brink of Life in 1958.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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