Although veteran film-maker Sjöström's performance in Wild Strawberries is well known, he first appeared before Bergman's camera as the wise old conductor of the Helsingborg symphony orchestra. Taking its title from Schiller's Ode to Joy (as used in the choral finale to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony), the film follows the fortunes of orchestral players Nilsson and Olin, as they take the rough with the smooth in setting up home together. The framing of the story lets us know very early that she will lose her life in a tragic fire, leaving the question how her widowed husband will draw on his experiences to find the will to continue. Frankly, it's a crude device, barely worthy of the film's wise portrait of domesticity in all its facets, but it does play effectively against Sjöström's resonant description of Beethoven expressing 'a joy beyond all understanding'. As the couple's young son listens intently to the symphony rehearsal which closes the proceedings, Bergman's investment in a lesson to be learned is self-evident.
Cast and crew