Wild Strawberries: The Criterion Collection
Arguably Ingmar Bergman's most popular film, this 1958 meditation on aging, recollection and resolve mixes the Swedish director's typically arty and intellectual style with an unusual helping of humor and sentiment. Victor Sjostrom stars as Isak Borg, an aging, withdrawn doctor en route to a prestigious ceremony honoring his life and work. As Dr. Borg drifts into haunting memories of loss and weakness, he is overcome by the inadequacies and ironies of his life before settling into peaceful acceptance of who he is and can still be. For all of its great moments and intentions, Wild Strawberries is nevertheless like its protagonist too cold for too long. The gifted Bergman again balks at escaping the intellectual straight-jacket that has always stifled his work from becoming more meaningful than just a conversation piece. But there are some great snips of witty dialogue, and Bibi Andersson is refreshing is as a free-spirited young woman entertaining the conflicting affections of two hard-headed suitors. Criterion's new digital transfer of Wild Strawberries is gorgeous in its original full-frame aspect ratio (1.33:1), and the Dolby Digital 1.0 audio track (in Swedish) is accompanied by newly translated digital English subtitles. Film Scholar Peter Cowie offers a dry commentary, and a stills gallery is included. But as on Criterion's release of Cries and Whispers, the real treat is a previously unreleased 90-minute Swedish documentary, Ingmar Bergman on His Life and Work, by John Donner. Keep-case.