Saturday, 21 February 2009

Bergman's Wild Strawberries

But then there was the Wild Strawberries, a film which will only be fully appreciated by old persons aware of death as they too reflect on their lives and seek redemption.
I am not sure about some of the imagery and the dream sequences and flashbacks, but there is so much I could identify with.

The film begins with Professor Borg who although living with a housekeeper is alone after the death of his wife, with a flashback suggesting the marriage was unhappy and that he never recovered when his childhood youth sweetheart married a brother and is alive now a75 year widow with six grown up children. He has had a troubled night with a dream which portends his death.
I liked the feel of the dream which touches my own in the sense of being an observer as well a participant and therefore contemporary experience never recaptures the innocent intensity of childhood experiences.

This is an important day for the Professor when he is to be honoured for his work of fifty years and the impact of the dream is to make him get up and travel by car rather than plane in carefully planned journey which his son also a doctor and his housekeeper had arranged. She is upset and does not understand his change of plan. He confesses that this is a major change for him too. He admits be being an isolate living for his work and a pedantic with routines so this change is untypical. His daughter in law, who we later learn has had troubles with her husband, decides to travel with him by car and early on in the journey he takes her to where the family lived or somewhere similar to the location of the wild strawberry patch which leads to the memory as a young man of relationships and where he meets a young girl and her two companions on their way hitchhiking to Italy. They symbolise youth, hope, the future and they are fearless, but kind- one is going to be a doctor the other a cleric, they are middle class intelligent and the world is theirs.
Soon after they have recommence their journey they are nearly hit by a car on the wrong side of the road which over turns and although they are able to right it, it is too damaged to continue so they give a lift (the car is big enough with three rows of seats), but after a short period they eject the couple who spend the time attacking each other in their own ways… a negative relationship but which has a positive effect on the relationship between father and daughter in law, daughter in law and her husband later and between the professor and the housekeeper.
After an enjoyable lunch father and daughter in law go to see his mother who is 86 alert with her memories this is another significant moment for me as she comments that all but one of children are dead that she sees only one grandchild once a year that she has fifteen great grand children who she has never seen.
She is grateful that her son has called in on his big day, it is a treasured moment for her because she does not know if she will ever see him again or him her.
There are touching moment at the end with his social professional recognition of the award which is similar to getting freedom of the city with marching through the streets. The ceremony is in Latin which brings a reminder of how universal academic language once was. The trio of backpackers serenade him at bedtime and he hopes they will keep in contact although he knows they will not. But the film ends on positive notes. His daughter in law is pregnant but the husband does not want a child, the ending suggests reconciliation and he will accept the child.
One core of the film is that question can God exist in the world of science and this is argued between the travelling student cleric and doctor to be who comes to blows hints and indicates something of one of great conflicts of the final segment of the century.
However the heart of the film is about mortality and the possibility of resurrection in a reality sense, not just the concept of absolution, reparation and redemption. Especially when in one sequence the professor fails to answer the question what is the first duty of the doctor, and he fails to the answer which is to seek forgiveness yet while he learns that his son hates him (from his daughter in law), Max Von Sydow as a garage proprietor and his pregnant wife refuses to let him pay for petrol, water and oil check because of his previous service to the family and community and given this unconditional love he openly queries whether he should have left and move on, alas in my case the world of child care was swept away by social services although I have to add that would have I ever have become a chief officer had it not been for this double revolution of social services and local government change coinciding with health 1971 1974. One should not attempt to seek redemption in the last moments although this may sufficient for some, but for the rest is has to be an ongoing quest as close as we can to the original sin.

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