Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) (1957) During my brief stay at Michigan State University—1965-1967—I did a lot more movie watching than studying. (The last term, no studying at all.) Between the local art houses in East Lansing, the film society, and various other programs in some of the dorms, you could see a film every night and only occasionally have to pay for it. It was here I was introduced to Ingmar Bergman. I saw this one, The Seventh Seal, a couple others. Wild Strawberries wasn’t that old then, and already seen as a classic. We didn’t have a good relationship, me and Ingmar. This film begins with a dream, and right there we have a problem. I hate dreams in books, and only tolerate them in films because they usually have arresting images. I’m not sure why this is, but it may be that my own dreams have always been so evanescent, so impossible to pin down, remember, or—god help us—interpret, that I have a hard time getting interested in other people’s dreams. So in the first ten minutes we see a horse-drawn, riderless hearse. A wheel comes off, the coffin spills into the street, a hand is seen, and old Dr. Isak Borg takes the hand and looks down into his own face. There are clocks with no hands, and a figure that turns to liquid. What does it all mean?
Ask somebody who gives a shit. I don’t have any truck with symbolism, I find it to be a huge waste of my time. Go ahead, figure it out any way that pleases you. Write an essay, promulgate a theory, found a school of thought, I’m not interested in any of them. I don’t so much mind symbolism being in a film, I just prefer to skip over it and go to the things that intrigue me more. So Bergman is not and never will be on my Top Ten list of directors. I didn’t like the movie at all in 1966. This time around I am more informed, more aware of things like his stunning black and white photography and compelling camera work, and I liked the movie much more, and in fact agree that it deserves to be called a classic … but I will never love it. I haven’t seen a single Bergman film that I could love.