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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Road Trip in the Twilight Zone

Wild Strawberries (1957) on IMDb

Plot Overview

In the opening scene, the narrator (Borg) tells us he's withdrawn from society as he's dis­satisfied that, “in our relations with other people, we mainly discuss people's character and motivations.” Surrounded by books he confesses, “I am an old pendant; I am seventy-eight.”

On June 1st he had a “weird dream” in which he became lost on his morning walk in a ghost town. Bells toll the time but the town clock has no hands. A driver­less horse-drawn hearse heaves over and upon investigating he's grabbed by a protruding hand … his hand. Weird, huh?

Upon awaking at 3 a.m. in a sweat, Professor Emeritus Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström) eats a hasty breakfast and departs Stockholm in his motorcar—the original plan was to fly—, destination Lund, to receive an honorary Doctoris Jubilaris degree. He's accompanied by his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) who's experiencing a rough spot in her marriage with her husband, Isak's son Evald (Gunnar Björnstrand).

They stop off at Prof. Borg's childhood summer home where he has some vivid family reminiscences and imaginings of a Smultronstället, wild strawberry patch—idiom for an under­rated special place. Later, they pick up three college-age hitch­hikers who remind him of his younger days, too. They also run into a stranded couple whose car broke down, picking them up in their roomy Packard. And he has more weird visions and receives his honorary degree at the end of his road trip, tying up loose ends in his life.


“Wild Strawberries” is a long slog, sort of like reading Job in the Bible. Parts of the two even match up. Take Elihu's pedantry that, (Job 36:16) “Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.” The “table full of fatness” is the family meal Isak envisions at his old summer home; they sit down to eat after saying grace: “In Jesus name we take our seat./ Bless, Oh Lord, this food we eat.” The person in a strait is his live-in maid Agda (Jullan Kindahl) who's worked tire­lessly for him the past forty years. And yet at the end of the picture when he suggests they get to be on a first-name basis, she demurs to protect her rep. This reminds us of St. Paul's letter to Philemon concerning the man's run­away slave Onesimus who has since converted to the faith. Paul stopped short of commanding him what to do, trusting rather, (Philemon 1:6) “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” He'd figure it out himself.  The pronoun ‘you’ that Paul used there in Philemon displaces the customary ‘thee’ in the 1611 King James Version (KJV). As I mentioned in another paper English was going through a transitional stage at that time in which one's betters were referred to simply by ‘you’—except for the Quakers who didn't believe in classes so still spoke to any­one as ‘thee’ or ‘thou’. The man Philemon is filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus,” so Paul entrusts him worthy of respect to manage his own house­hold affairs.  Paul was willing to trust the Lord to, (Heb. 13:21) “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well­pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 7Paul's character of deferring to the believer filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” shows up also in his advice to the Corinthians on matrimony. Paul the celibate eunuch wrote, (1Cor. 7:7) “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” He trusted each to find his proper gift “which is in you,” as they them­selves are “in Christ Jesus.” He explicitly defers to the widow abiding in the Lord, who (1Cor. 7:39) “is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” In this movie Agda is content to remain single, Mrs. Borg, Isak's widowed mother (Naima Wifstrand) is happy not to remarry, Isak and his brother Sigfrid (Per Sjöstrand) both had wanted to marry—unfortunately to the same beautiful girl Sara (Bibi Andersson)—, and Sara the hitch­hiker (Bibi Andersson) was interested in men, as well, both her hitch­hiking beau Anders (Folke Sundquist) and their hitch­hiking chaperone Viktor (Björn Bjelfvenstam). The apostle Paul, for his part, leaves them all free to decide in the Lord what marital status to pursue.

The plot thickens when their black Packard nearly collides head-on with a Volkswagen (VW) There their road got straitened (i.e. squeezed tight) with too many cars hogging it, but it was acknowledged to be the fault of the VW driver, not the Packard party. If we don't mind getting abstract—in this artsy film—, then the Volkswagen, lit. the people's car, was to blame, not the big black Packard representing Paul in the Bible. This brings us back to Paul, (2Cor. 6:12) “Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.”

Since Sara was likely to have lost one of her men—they sat on either side of her—should the cars have collided, the strait would have settled whom she married, but not "Paul." One of the men was religious, the other not. And they fought about it in the woods. I've discussed in another study how this conflict between believers and unbelievers plays out in terms of the Corinthians' worship and/or service, like a conflict off there in the woods in the movie. Using Paul's following rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part has he that believeth with an infidel?” this can be a real question a girl asks her­self before leaping into marriage with an unbeliever, but things haven't progressed that far with Sara yet. They are far enough along that she could have rejected one of her potential mates if there were a deal-breaker, as in the earlier Sara having to decide at a similar point if she would consider the brother of a man she was already involved with. But Paul wasn't addressing marriage when he exhorted, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” Appropriately, he uses the plural pronoun ‘ye’ addressing the whole church, which does not match up in number when used as a proof text to apply to a potential marriage. Unless, as in these modern Bibles, the pronoun ‘you’ (or understood ‘you’) is used, and then we have to internally match it up, leaving many substituting a singular ‘you’ in their heads, becoming “straitened in your own bowels.” That's what too commonly happens.

The couple at fault driving the (now broken) VW had crashed because they were distracted fighting. Being offered a lift, they continued their fighting in the Packard's jump seat until they were unceremoniously expelled from the car on account of their bad example to the young people (“children.”) That's in line with (Prov. 22:24-25) “Make no friend­ship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” People who bring forward a conflict over faith into the early stages of a courtship by twisting Paul from these new versions are no friends of mine for their influence on young folk who haven't mastered the Bible yet. Or in particular these modernized Bible versions with the universal ‘you’ are no friends of mine, and I'd just as soon they were not included in our friendly Bible studies.

Moving on to, (Job 36:17) “But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.” This judgement showed up in a later weird dream.

(Job 36:18) “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.” Isak gets in trouble in his weird dreams.

(Job 36:19) “Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.” Isak is well off, but he'd do better to forgive his son's debt than rely on his wealth to fix his life.

(Job 36:20) “Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.” Isak's maid thinks it not a good idea for him to go driving off in the dead of night.

(Job 36:21) “Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.” Rather than the trouble of raising a child, Isak's brother wants his wife to have an abortion.

Production Values

This black & white film, “Wild Strawberries” (1957) was written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The cast includes Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Max von Sydow. Victor Sjöström's intense character is the focal point, and he handled it well. The rest of the cast was faultless in their roles, although the silly twins seemed a bit much.

This movie is unrated. The cinematography by Gunner Fischer veritably sparkles except in the dream sequences which are flat by comparison.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I had a real hard time staying awake through this movie. It would make a good one to retire to at night, and if you have troubling dreams, you won't be alone.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Predictable. Overall product rating: three stars out of five.