“In our relations with other people, we mainly discuss and evaluate their character and behavior. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly all so-called relations. This has made my old age rather lonely. My life has been full of hard work, and I am grateful. It began as toil for bread and butter, and ended in a love of science…. Perhaps I should add that I am an old pedant, which at times has been rather trying for myself and those around me. My name is Izak Borg, and I am 78 years old. Tomorrow I will receive an honorary doctorate degree in Lund Cathedral.”
The Bergman film “Wild Strawberries” begins with the above narration by the narrator, Izak. This film is a heart-breaking work that dives right into the the socially unconnected life of Professor Izak. The movie chronicles a single day in Izak’s life in which he is travelling to a university to receive an honarary doctorate degree from a university. Throughout his journey to the cathedral, he finds both comfort and sorrow in memories of his past; memories that play out in his thoughts and dreams. As he witnesses scenes from his own life, he begins to see the familial trend of coldness and withdrawl from intimacy that exists his mother, himself, and in his own son. There is no Holywood ending in this unflinching vision of a pedant who finally comes to understand his own life for the first time. Is it too late for love and intimacy to find its way into Izak’s life? What might that look like?
This film explores these and many other questions with an openness and tenderness that is hitherto absent from its main character:
What might a breakthrough look like in a life realistically portrayed as it is in this film?
What would it look like in your own life, and the lives of the people you see as bound or stifled?
Can people change?
Can they change for the better or only for the worse?
What good can come of a person changing for the better in the final years of their life?
What kinds of intimacy are possible and appropriate between people?
What are the ways a person can change that will not be detectable to those around them?
What indicators are there for a truly convicted person? Confession? Tears? Apologies? Silence?