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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholar Peter Cowie
  • Introduction by director Ingmar Bergman
  • Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work, a ninety-minute documentary by filmmaker and author Jörn Donner
  • Behind-the-scenes footage shot by Bergman

Wild Strawberries

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: , Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, , Jullan Kindahl, Folke Sundquist, , Naima Wifstrand, , Gertrud Fridh, , Sif Ruud, , Max von Sydow
1957 | 92 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #139
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 11, 2013
Review Date: June 2, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg-masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjöström-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-house cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim.

Forum members rate this film 9/10

 

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PICTURE

Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries comes to Criterion Blu-ray, sporting a new high-definition transfer that presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The DVD delivered a fine presentation and it’s nothing to put down, but this new transfer, struck from the 35mm negative, offers some rather obvious improvements. It’s certainly a far sharper image, delivering the finer details in old Isak’s face and in his jacket, and the film’s grain structure is more apparent, though never intrusive. Contrast looks a bit better throughout and gray levels are distinct. The opening still has the obvious boost in contrast, but this is intentional.

The print delivers very little damage, and does appear cleaner than the Criterion DVD’s source. Artifacts aren’t a real issue, though I noticed some shimmering in the pattern of Isak’s jacket, but this is thankfully an infrequent problem and otherwise the transfer is a sharp upgrade in every area over Criterion’s older transfer.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless linear PCM 1.0 Swedish mono track is dated, coming off flat and fairly hollow, with the music delivering a bit of a harsh edge and mild distortion. It is what it is but the track doesn’t present any noticeable damage such as pops, static, or drops.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Technically speaking, everything hasn’t made it over from Criterion’s DVD edition but the Blu-ray does offer a couple of upgrades.

Making it over is Peter Cowie’s audio commentary, a fine if overly scholarly track. Cowie is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of Bergman and he relates how Bergman developed the script and how aspects of his life that played a part in writing/making the film. He talks about the cast and how Sjörström came to be involved in the film, deconstructs the dream sequence and how it will be played out later in the film, the symbolism found within, and talks about the look and ultimately its reception and impact on Bergman’s career. As usual it does sound as though Cowie is reading from notes and/or a script, and this can drag it out a bit, but he does offer a dense amount of information and is worth a listen. (Since it was recorded for the DVD edition Cowie does still refer to “this DVD” throughout.)

New to this edition, though it has appeared on other releases from Criterion, is an introduction by Ingmar Bergman. This was shot for what I assume was a TV screening of the film. For 4-minutes the director talks about the film, the personal aspects, and how he got Sjörström to star in it. This actually appeared on Criterion’s DVD edition of Fanny & Alexander (not the Blu-ray oddly) along with other introductions. It appears Criterion is spreading them out for all of their reissues or new release of Bergman’s work.

Replacing a stills gallery found on the DVD Criterion includes Behind the Scenes Footage. Running 16-minutes the footage is silent but we do get English narration from Jan Wengström. The footage is wonderful, offering a glimpse of the cast and crew prepping sets or getting ready for shooting, with some footage here and there of cast members talking and bonding between takes. The narration offers very little that hasn’t already been said elsewhere, but Wengström talks about the production, casting, and how the cast and crew got along on set. The footage is mostly black-and-white but the last few minutes are in colour. All of it was shot on 16mm.

Also carried over is the 90-minute documentary/conversation with Bergman filmed in 1998 called Ingmar Bergman: On Life and Work, which has filmmaker Jörn Donner talking with him. It has very little to do with Wild Strawberries and is more about his life and how it has influenced his work. He also talks about his process, and shares musings on theater, film, politics, writing, his wives, his life on Fårö, and more. It’s dense and Bergman is thankfully humourous since Donner is about as dry as can be, but it can be, unfortunately, a little too clinical.

The old DVD came with an insert featuring a short essay by Cowie but Criterion has replaced it with a thicker booklet featuring a lengthy essay by scholar Mark Le Fanu, who offers his own analysis of the film.

It receives a decent upgrade, though it’s still a light release. I’m a little disappointed that Criterion didn’t carry over the photos, though there wasn’t too much. At least they replaced it with something else.

7/10

CLOSING

The new Blu-ray delivers a sharper transfer and a decent upgrade in the supplement department, even though it is missing the admittedly small photo gallery. Even for those that own the previous DVD edition this edition is worth picking up.


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