Given the size, scale and quality of Bergman’s output, it’s impossible to label any one work as the definitive entry point, but Wild Strawberries – about an ageing professor taking a nostalgic road trip across Sweden with his daughter-in- law - certainly offers an accessible introduction to many of Bergman’s key motifs and narrative devices.
Boasting a magnificent performance by Victor Sjöström as the ageing, grouchy academic Isak Borg, this is above all one of Bergman’s warmest films. Whilst driving to Lund in order to accept an honorary degree; Professor Borg’s trip also traverses memories, reveries and illuminating encounters with family members and strangers alike. Forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death, through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries masterfully dramatises one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery.
A richly humane masterpiece that’s full of iconic imagery, this treasure from the golden age of art-house cinema helped catapult Bergman to international acclaim.