This is one of the truly outstanding works of post-war European cinema. Ingmar Bergman's allegorical road-movie slips between present and past, dream and reality to explore the external and internal worlds of its ageing central character.
Professor Isak Borg (played by silent cinema actor/director Victor Sjöström) is a 78-year-old widower. He embarks on a car journey from Stockholm to Lund, where he is to receive a honorary degree from his old university.
The egotistical scientist is accompanied by his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin). Although pregnant, she is planning to separate from her husband. En-route she and Isak meet a squabbling married couple and a trio of hitch-hikers. One of them, Sara (Bibi Andersson), reminds the old man of his long-lost childhood love.
They also stop off at Isak's childhood summer home and at the house of his embittered nonagenarian mother (Naima Wifstrand). Alongside these encounters, Isak experiences a number of premonitions, reveries, and nightmares which throw light on his unconscious existence.
Scripted while Bergman was being treated in hospital for two months whilst suffering gastric ulcers, "Wild Strawberries" emerges as one of the Swedish director's most elegiac and humane films.
It builds, through its flashback structure, a compassionate portrait of a man coming to terms with the disappointments and sorrows of an emotionally constrained life.
Masterfully shot by cinematographer Gunnar Fischer and movingly acted by Sjöström, "Wild Strawberries" glides from scenes of expressionistic distress to pastoral idyll.
The Swedish title, "Smultronstallet", actually translates as 'strawberry field patch' referring to not just to the location where the fruit can be picked, but to a place or a time in one's past which is particularly cherished and which one revisits in one's mind.
And utterly appropriately in the film's serene denouement, Bergman has Isak conjure up his own personal 'Smultronstället'.
Swedish with English subtitles.