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TPR's Cinema Tuesdays brings Bergman's meditation on old age to the Bijou

The focus of American cinephilia has shifted somewhat since the late 1950s when Ingmar Bergman made a splash here with The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. Today, even an educated film buff may be wholly ignorant of this once-lauded master, so a bit of familiar comparison may be in order for those who know their '50s and '60s auteurs through the fawning homages of Woody Allen: If Stardust Memories was Allen's take on Fellini's 8 1/2, then Deconstructing Harry is his introduction to Wild Strawberries, which many call Bergman's greatest film.

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Silent-film director Victor Sjostrom portrays a professor who reflects on the meaning of his life via a roadtrip with his daughter in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries.

Wild Strawberries gives us Isak Borg, a septuagenarian professor (played by Sjöström, real-life director of scores of silent films) taking a long car trip to his alma mater where he is to be honored for a lifetime of achievement. Travelling with his daughter-in-law, the professor is drawn into a long reassessment of that life, drifting into dreamy reveries and even having visions of the future. Naturally, his privileged perspective reveals that the life one sees from the inside rarely resembles what the world perceives.

Wild Strawberries

Dir. and writ. Ingmar Bergman; feat. Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jullan Kindahl, Max Von Sydow (Unrated)

Along the way, outsiders pop up who provide more fodder for the film's meditation on aging. Three young hitchhikers cast an unflattering light on youth, a dueling husband and wife do the same for marriage, and a visit to the professor's aged mother holds out little hope for his golden years. Nevertheless, the film is revered for its ability to glide between moods and attitudes, from anxiety to pastoral daydream. Dark clouds would hang over Bergman's work for many years to come, but Wild Strawberries acknowledges some of life's pleasures as well.

John DeFore

Wild Strawberries screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at the Bijou at Crossroads Theatre. Tickets are $10 TPR members / $12 nonmembers, available at tpr.org or 1-800-622-8777 (during business hours).


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