A road movie is one in which one or more people leave home to travel from place to place, with frightening, funny, or sad things happening along the way. Think "The Long, Long Trailer" or "Rain Man."
The world's most acclaimed road movie happens to be Swedish. "Wild Strawberries" is the work of Ingmar Bergman, a film-maker who knows how to astound audiences throughout the world. His movie is a study of characters on a day's trip from a small Swedish town to the city of Lund - dramatically told as a captivating psychological tour de force.
"Wild Strawberries" concerns Isak Borg - grouchy, emotionally dried-up - who makes a journey for a university award in Lund; en route, he relives a diverse past by means of dreams and encounters with an odd assortment of people along the way - each of them bringing out a new side to his personality.
At the start, Borg narrates: "At age 76, I feel that I'm much too old to lie to myself. But could my truthfulness be dishonesty in disguise?"
Before the trip he experiences a nightmare in which he finds himself on an empty street with a man without a face, clocks without hands, a coffin with a horrible "truth." The dream hangs heavily on him.
He travels with his daughter-in-law, the journey made all the more unsettling as she frankly blames him for the cold, unfeeling man she married - a younger model of his father.
His odyssey of truths and self-discovery unravels, starting with a brief visit with his aging mother, a local gas station attendant, and a number of hitch-hikers ranging from a squabbling married couple to a young girl who reminds him of the cousin he once loved, and her two traveling youthful companions.
In a touching, lovingly created scene, Bergman has Bork stop to revisit the forested country home where as a youth he had spent his happiest days summering with his family there, and in his reverie he also recalls a panorama of family experiences that astound and sometimes cause pain as they eerily parade before him.
Then he narrates a change in his reverie: "Suddenly I saw her. When I turned around after looking at the strangely transformed cottage (now brightly lit and lively), I discovered her where she was in the field, kneeling in her sun-yellow cotton dress, picking wild strawberries." He becomes excited as he recognizes the cousin he had loved but lost because he was too shy to assert himself. "I sat for a few minutes and silently looked at her. Finally, I couldn't help calling out her name, Sarah. She didn't react."
Borg's thoughts then return to the cottage and an evening meal with the extended family; and he watches the joyful specters with a regretful ache.
When his daughter-in-law interrupts his reverie, returning from a refreshing swim, they drive away in relative silence. A kind of truce has been made between them.
Only after settling in for the night in Lund do the events of the day bring on an extraordinary dream, examining his life in a new light. In this dream he again returns, enraptured, to his childhood and Sarah. He falls asleep happily.
The film focuses with fascination on one man's thoughts, regrets, and memories, tenderly told - aided by exceptional settings, shown in dramatic lighting, with the best of Bergman's stable of actors - a road movie that becomes a masterpiece. It is one of his warmest, most personal, most memorable and most successful films.
You can see it at the Calumet Theatre on Friday the 13th at 7:15 p.m., preceded at 6 by a Swedish smorgasbord from the Kangas Caf in Hancock. The cost for the buffet and film is $18 while the film alone is $5. For the buffet, call at least a day in advance at 337-2610.
This Club Indigo movie has been made possible by CHIA (Copper Harbor Improvement Association), which also sponsors all family events year around in the Harbor area.
Rotten Tomatoes: "Mirror, Mirror," C+; "The Titans," D