Blu-ray Review: Criterion Upgrades Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries’

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CHICAGO – Every month, Criterion mixes in a few HD upgrades for films in their collection to sit alongside new releases for the collection. One of those titles this month is spine #139, Ingmar Bergman’s adored “Wild Strawberries” (1957). It’s not one of my favorite Bergman films as I’ve always found its structure more frustrating than enlightening but “Wild Strawberries” has loyal fans who will be satisfied by this strong HD transfer and interesting special features. Blu-ray rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The highlights of the Criterion blu-ray release of “Wild Strawberries” are the new, restored 2K digital film transfer that perfectly captures the aesthetic of Bergman’s visually strong film without looking overly polished, and a 90-minute documentary on the legendary director called “Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work.” The stellar HD work and the doc alone make for a solid addition to the collection. As I said though, “Strawberries” is a film that I can’t quite connect with. I find its structure keeps me at a distance from what should be a more emotional experience. However, the film is undeniably historically important as it helped push Bergman to international prominence. Collectors may want to include it for that reason alone.

Wild Strawberries was released on Blu-ray on June 4, 2013
Wild Strawberries was released on Blu-ray on June 4, 2013
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg - masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjostrom - is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is a treasure from the golden age of art-hour cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary Featuring Film Scholar Peter Cowie
o Introduction By Director Ingmar Bergman
o Ingmar Bergman on Life And Work, A Ninety-Minute Documentary By Filmmaker And Author Jorn Donner
o Behind The Scenes Footage Shot By Bergman
o Booklet Featuring An Essay By Film Writer Mark Le Fanu

“Wild Strawberries” was released on Blu-ray and re-released on DVD by The Criterion Collection on June 4, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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