Monday, March 5, 2018

Chewing Over Wild Strawberries

There are three proto Scenes From a Marriage in Wild Strawberries, currently in revival at Film Forum: the relationship between Professor Borg’s (Victor Sjostrom) son, Evald (Gunnar Bjornstrand), a nihilistic character perhaps based on Turgenev's Basarov, and his wife Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), that of the argumentative couple Borg and Marianne pick up, who polarize over their immersion alternately in hysteria and religion, and that of Borg with his diseased wife Karin, (Gertrude Fridh). Then there's the wonderfully comic punch fest between two of the hitchhikers  over the existence of God and the opening sequence of the film in which Borg has the Daliesque dream in which he confronts a clock with no hands, a figure with a gnarled face and finally his own corpse which grabs at him from its casket. But actually two of the most touching and artful parts of the film  take place towards the film's end, when Borg finally reaches his destination. The three youngsters he's driven give him a bouquet of flowers, but the professor cuts short the sentimentality reminding everyone that they’ll be late for the ceremony. For just a moment the screen darkens, before Borg proceeds to accept his honor. The effect is subtle, but it’s like an old-fashioned flashbulb shot in which a moment of light is punctuated by darkness and it will make many viewers gulp. Later, in a memory Sara (Bibi Andersson), the woman Borg loved and lost to his brother reappears and holds a mirror up to the aged Borg, whose face’s reflection is visible to the viewer.  He'd already relived his early loss, but now a suitor to memory itself, he’s rejected all over again, simply because he's too old for the past. At the very end, Evald and Marianne return early from the ball because Marianne has broken her heel. It's a wonderful detail which accompanies Victor Sjostrom's last pose before the camera (as Wild Strawberries marked the end of a career that began in silent film).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.