Wild Strawberries: FILM SUMMARY
1. An old man, Isak Borg, 78, sits hunched over his writing desk in his plush and well-appointed library. A large dog sits beside him on a rug. Voice-over: “In our relations with other people we mainly discuss and evaluate their characters and behavior. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly all so-called relations. This has made my old age rather lonely.” He continues summing up his life. He mentions his son, a doctor in Lund (cut to a photograph of the son) and his wife. They have no children (cut to a photograph of Marianne). He mentions his mother (cut to a photograph), and his wife Karin, dead for many years (cut to photograph). His housekeeper comes in and calls him to dinner. As he gets up, we hear his voice-over: “Perhaps I should add that I am an old pedant, which at times has been rather trying for myself and those around me.” As he leaves the room he notes that he will receive an honorary degree in Lund Cathedral tomorrow. Credit sequence.
2. Borg has a dream. He is lost on vacant winding streets. He looks up at a clock sign. But the clock face has no hands. He seems distressed by this. He encounters a man on the street. But the man’s face is all pinched like an apple doll’s face. Borg is distressed. Suddenly the man collapses, like a balloon, and then what appears to be blood drains from him. Borg looks around. He sees a funeral coach approaching from another street. As it passes him, the rear wheel of the coach strikes a lamppost, and then again and again it strikes the lamppost. Suddenly one of the huge wagon wheels comes off and whirls right past Borg. Now the coach lurches to the side and the coffin falls out of it before the horses pull the disabled carriage away. Borg approaches the coffin that has fallen out of the carriage. A man’s hand stretches out from the box. As Borg approaches, the hand comes to alive and grabs him by the arm and pulls at him. The dead man inside the coffin comes to life—and it is Borg, and that dead Borg is struggling with the dreamer Borg as we see parallel close-ups of the two men’s faces.
3. Borg awakens from the dream. He goes in to wake the housekeeper, Miss Agda, and tells her there is a change in plans. He is taking the car. She tells him to go back to bed and they will leave together as planned—via airplane. Then they begin to bicker like an old married couple. She complains that she has looked forward to this trip for a long time. Everything was set. Now it’s all changed. Now it’s all ruined. She says she won’t come at all if he goes by car. “Take the car—and you’ll ruin the greatest day of my life,” she groans from the bed. “We’re not married, Miss Agda.” Now she sits up: “I thank God for that every night!” Finally the argument seems over. But as he stalks away, she gets up, and she complains about him being a “selfish crabby old man.” Here she has worked 40 years for him—and now this change of plan. He yells at her from his bedroom. “Just give the word and I’ll leave tomorrow,” she snaps. Now she comes into his room and begins packing for him. Suddenly he pats her on the back and says, “No one can pack like you, Miss Agda.” But she is no mood for being consoled. She stalks away to get breakfast. He muses, “The faculty should have made me honorary idiot.”
4. Later, she serves him breakfast. Suddenly his daughter-in-law Marianne enters the room and asks if she can accompany him in the car. Now the old man and his housekeeper perk up their ears. Marianne has been staying with Borg for almost a month. Why is she ready to return to her husband now? What problems have they been experiencing?
5. Borg and Marianne in the car as the ride begins. Clearly the two seem uncomfortable with each other. They speak about the vices of men and women. Marianne asks what women’s vices are. Borg says, “Weeping, giving birth, and speaking ill of her neighbors.” After more small talk, Borg admits, “You don’t like me. You never have.” She deflects this comment. He wants to know why she is going back to Evald. But again she reveals little. “Evald and I are very much alike,” he says. “We have our principles.” Next is the subject of a loan Borg gave to his son. Marianne seems bitter about it. She notes that the loan “means that we never can be free together and that your son works himself to death.” But Borg holds fast to the idea that “a promise is a promise.” Of course, Marianne mentions that Borg could forgive the loan—he doesn’t really need that money. But “a promise is a promise.” Marianne says, “Perhaps, but he also hates you!” Now we see a different angle of reaction shot of Borg—as if he is stunned by her words. Now she is silent.
Some time passes, and later on the trip Borg asks her why she does not like him. “You’re a selfish old man. You’re utterly ruthless and never listen to anyone but yourself. But you hide it all behind your old-world manners and charm. Beneath your benevolent exterior you’re as hard as nails.” But in Marianne’s mind, he can’t fool her. She reminds him of the time she came to him a month ago. She had an idea that he might help her patch things up between Evald and her. But what did he say? “Don’t try to draw me into your marital squabbles. I don’t give a damn. You and Evald must make the best of it.” He seems surprised to learn that he said that. But there is more. He said, “I have no respect for mental suffering, so don’t come lamenting to me. If you need therapy, you’d better see a shrink.” Marianne concludes, “I should hate to depend upon you.”
More time passes. Now Borg seems apologetic. He praises her as being a good woman and wishes she did not dislike him. She agrees that she does not dislike him—she feels sorry for him. He laughs at this—and then tells her he wants to talk about a dream he had last night. But she is not interested. So he changes the subject.
6. Suddenly he pulls off the highway and takes a side road to a house. He tells her that this house was his summer home for the first 20 years of his life. He was one of 10 children. Marianne decides to go for a swim. Borg sits under a tree and remembers the wild strawberries he used to pick years ago. Now we hear his voice-over as he notes that this moment of self-reflection seemed to lead to a charged memory—the light changes on the house and suddenly Borg is an observer of events that happened here when he was a young man. Suddenly he spies Sara, the girl he loved, picking wild strawberries. But she does not see him or hear him. So he watches—and then is shocked to see his cousin Sigfrid sneak into the picture and begin to flirt with Sara, who is gathering the strawberries for her uncle. She flirts with him, too, and at one point he tells her that she is in love with him. He asks to kiss her. She warns him that she will tell Isak (Borg). The cousin says, “Little Isak! I could beat him up with one arm!” Sara reminds him that she and Borg are secretly engaged. But the cousin says, “Everyone knows it.” He keeps flirting with her, and she warns him Isak is the nicest of the brothers, and he is the nastiest of the brothers. But the nastier she is to him the more he draws toward her. “Now that I think of, I’m madly in love with you,” he says, and they kiss. She accepts the kiss—and then she throws herself upon the ground, as if considering herself a ruined woman morally. “What will Isak say, who really loves me?” Suddenly she runs off as the dinner bell sounds, and everyone is calling out, “Where is Isak?” and the answer is that he is fishing with his parents.
7. Now Borg enters the house to observe everyone at the uncle’s celebration. The guests are running here and there, and finally one of the women, an aunt (sister of Borg’s father) calls everyone to stand at their places and attend to the prayer. In this comic scene the old women has an opinion on everyone at the table—and she doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. The uncle whose name day is being celebrated is practically deaf, and everyone acts out his or her individual character in the scene. Two young twin girls call out in unison that they spotted Sara and Sigfrid in the strawberry patch. What could they have been doing!
8. Sara runs from the table. Now everyone is silent. Another young woman from the table leaves to console Sara in the next room—and there stands Borg watching it all. She sums up her problem: “Isak is so fine and good, so moral and sensitive, and he only wants to kiss in the dark, and he talks about sin.” Now we cut to Borg. “He’s on such a high level!” Back to Sara. “And I feel so worthless. But sometimes it seems to me that I’m a lot older than Isak. And then I think he’s a child, although we’re the same age. And Sigfrid is so bold and exciting!” What a dilemma! Her sister consoles her, says she will talk to Papa, and perhaps he can make Sigfrid shape up. Again Sara praises Isak (cut to Borg), and then the camera returns to her as she concludes, “Life is so unfair.” Then singing begins, and now we watch the family members singing and smiling and cheering for the uncle. Reaction shot of Borg. He turns and sees Sara standing next to her sister. She says she will go out to find Borg and his father. She exits. We hear his voice-over: I was overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness and sadness. He follows her outside the house.
9. Voice-over: But I was soon awakened from my reveries by the voice of a young girl. Then we see the young woman jumping out of a tree behind Borg—who is still lying on the ground where we saw him at the beginning of this scene. She notes that her father owns the house. He says, “I lived here 200 years ago.” She likes that line. When she refers to his car—which she saw at the gate—as an antique, he says, “The car and owner are antiques.” When she finds out he is driving to Lund, she asks for a ride, since she is on her way to Italy. She says her name is Sara—what irony! Marianne returns from her swim and meets Sara. When they reach the car, there are two of her male friends there, Anders and Viktor.
They set off—all together in the car. Sara flirts with Anders, but she notes that Viktor also loves her. (Viktor does not seem to be happy about anything.) She credits her father with having Viktor as the “chaperone.” She leans forward and says, “I may have to seduce Viktor just to get rid of him.” She also informs Borg that she is a virgin—that’s why she’s so cheeky. And—she smokes a pipe! Borg admits that he was once in love with a woman named Sara. The young Sara wants to know what happened. Borg says, “She married my brother Sigfrid and had six children. She’s 75 now and quite a beautiful old lady.” Sara drops against the back seat and moans, “I can’t think of anything worse than growing old!” Then she realizes her faux pas and apologizes. Borg just laughs.
10. Suddenly Borg almost collides with an oncoming car—a Volkswagen beetle. That car swerves across his bow and then rolls over into the ditch. Borg drives into the ditch but doesn’t crash into anything. All of the young people get out of Borg’s car and run onto the road. In the distance a couple extracts themselves from the VW and then run toward them. The husband apologizes—their fault—his wife was driving! His name is Alman and his wife is Berit. The latter comes forward, apologizes, and admits that “I was just going to hit my husband when that curve appeared.” Then she says, “God punishes some people at once.” Borg ignores this and says let’s get the car turned right. Alman protests, but his wife cuts him off. “Some people are unselfish, though you don’t think so.” Alman joins the three young people that are pushing hard to right the car. Meanwhile, Borg attaches a rope to the axle. Berit comes over and makes a dig at her husband—for trying to impress the young people with his physicality. Finally they get the car right side up. “My wife likes ridiculing me,” Alman says. “I let her. It’s psychotherapy.” Now Marianne drives Borg’s car and pulls the VW out of the ditch. Alman tries to drive away, but the car fails in a few feet.
Now Borg has two more passengers. The three young people sit in the back, and the new passengers sit between them and the front seat. Alman is a whistler, and Borg dislikes the noise. Suddenly Alman begins to pick at his wife. “I never know whether she is really crying or just playacting. I’ll be damned if it isn’t real.” Then he digs in deeper. “For two years, she made me think she had cancer. The doctors could find nothing wrong with her.” Marianne cuts him off and says leave his wife alone. He likes this new fight. “Don’t get in the way of a woman’s tears,” he says. Then, “You are beautiful. But old Berit’s a bit past her prime.” Marianne says, “I sympathize with her for several reasons.” “Yet you don’t seem in the least bit hysterical. But Berit is. She has her hysterical. I have my Catholicism. So you see we need each other. It’s only egoism that we haven’t killed each other.” Now Berit reaches out and slaps him hard six times. But Alman only laughs and makes light of her outburst. “Shut up! Shut up!” she screams. Marianne has had enough. She stops the car. She apologizes for being blunt. “For the sake of the children, please get out. “Forgive us, if you can,” Berit says.
11. As they drive along a coastline, Borg reflects in voice-over that he had his first practice here and that his mother lives nearby. They stop at a gas station. When the attendant recognizes Borg, he is ecstatic. He greets him warmly, calls for his wife to come over, and says, “Mom and Dad and the whole countryside still talk about him. The world’s best doctor. Let’s call the baby after him.” Borg seems humbled by this response. Borg asks about his father. The attendant asks if he is going to visit his mother. Borg says he is. The attendant is impressed with how long she has lived. She is 96. Then the attendant refuses to take any money for the gas. “There are things that can’t be paid back!” he exclaims. The wife adds, “We have not forgotten.” The attendant says, “Ask anyone around here. They all remember your kindness.” Notice that Marianne is smiling at Borg as she observes this interaction. “Maybe I should have stayed here,” Borg muses. But the attendant doesn’t quite get the meaning of that musing. So handshakes all around, and then they are off.
12. Borg holds forth at an outdoor setting for lunch. Through is voice-over we learn that he was in good spirits. He reminisced about his years as a district medical officer. “My stories were quite a success, and I don’t think they laughed merely out of courtesy. One of the young men wonders why anyone would study to be a minister. Then the two young men begin to argue about contrasting philosophies of life. One says you have to believe only in yourself and in your death; the other obviously disagrees. Sara quips, “How sweet they are! I always believe the one I spoke with last.” But Viktor retorts, “Once you believed in Santa Claus—now in God.” Finally the two young men turn to Borg and ask his opinion. His response: “Whatever I said would be met with tolerant irony. So I’ll say nothing.” He laughs at the silliness of it all. Then Borg begins to recite a lovely poem. When he gets stuck on one line, Marianne recites a line, and Sara’s boyfriend recites a line. Viktor asks Borg if he is religious. But instead of responding, Borg returns to the poem: “I see His t races wherever flowers bloom.” Then Marianne recites the rest of the poem. Borg excuses himself, since he is ready to call on his mother. Marianne asks if she can join him. He consents.
13. Inside his mother’s house, Borg talks to her while we see Marianne enter and stop in a close shot—as if she apprehends the import of this interaction. Borg’s mother wonders if the young woman is Borg’s wife. “I don’t want to talk to her—she has done us much harm,” the old woman says. Marianne comes over and curtsies, but Borg’s mother complains, “Why aren’t you with Evald and the child?” Marianne corrects her—and reminds her that Evald and she had no children. Borg’s mother reminds her that she bore 10 children—as if that somehow is the norm. She asks Marianne to bring over a box of objects that belonged to her children. Marianne opens the box, and Borg’s mother recalls that Borg is the sole survivor of her 10 children. Borg’s mother says that Evald, one of her 20 grandchildren does visit her sometimes, but as for the others—15 of the 20 have never visited her. She sends them birthday cards, but “nobody bothers to visit me—unless they want to borrow money.” She notes her primary fault—that she doesn’t die. (By that she likely means that the inheritances are delayed!) Borg’s mother picks a doll out of the box, and she recalls that it was given to one daughter that did not care for it, and then handed on to another daughter that adored it. Marianne takes the doll from Borg’s mother. Then Borg’s mother points out a photograph of her with two of her children—Borg and Sigfrid (remember that he was Borg’s rival for Sara). Borg was 5 and Sigfrid was 3. Marianne reacts with some emotion to the old woman’s ramblings. At one point Borg’s mother holds up an old coloring book and reads one of her daughter’s scribbling: “I love Papa more than anything in the whole world.” Another daughter has written, “I’m going to marry Papa.” Then Borg’s mother complains of the cold. She says, “I have felt cold all my life.” Notice that Marianne again stares at Borg’s mother as if seeing a vision. Then it’s time for Borg to leave. But before he can retreat, his mother pulls out a case with an old watch inside. She is thinking of giving it to one of her grandchildren. “It has no hands. Does that matter?” she asks. Heavy bass music. Reaction shot of Borg. The clock reminds us of the clock in Borg’s nightmare. That clock also had no hands. Camera tracks in on the clock to an extreme close up as the music swells. The old woman recalls her grandson (now 50) when he was still a boy. She remembers that Sara used to carry him around and sing to him. “She married Sigfrid, that good-for-nothing.” The camera returns to Borg for his reaction. She says good-bye to her son, and then she turns to look at Marianne. But Marianne says nothing to her.
That shot dissolves to show a close shot of Sara, waiting by Borg’s car. But where are the two young men? Sara says they were fighting about the existence of God. “I said they could talk about me instead.” Sara points them out—they are sparring in a glade just up the hill from the car. Sara asks the old man, “Which one do you like best?” But he turns the question on her. She answers, “I don’t know. Anders is going to be a minister. But a minister’s wife. . Viktor’s nice in a different way. Viktor will go far. A doctor earns more money. And ministers are out of date. Though he has nice legs and a sweet neck. But how can anyone believe in God!” Finally the two men return, and Marianne separates them. They return to the car and Marianne drives them all away.
14. Borg nods off and has more vivid dreams. In the dream hundreds of birds fly from treetops at dusk. Then a cut to the overturned wild strawberries Sara had picked years ago. Suddenly Sara is sitting before him in the grass. She holds a mirror up to him to “show you what you look like.” Then she says, “You’re a worried old man who’s soon going to die. But I have all my life before me.” She wonders if she hurt his feelings. He says no. She tells him, “The truth is that I’ve been too considerate. And so I became unintentionally cruel.” He says he understands, but she says, “We don’t speak the same language. She holds up the mirror again. She says, “I’m going to marry your brother.” Reverse angle to show Sara and Borg’s image in the mirror. “Love is almost a game for us.” She asks him to smile. Reaction shot of Borg as he grimaces more than smiles. He looks pained. He cries. “But it hurts so.” Shot of Sara: “As professor emeritus, you ought to know why it hurts.” Then she adds, “You know so much, and you don’t know anything.” Then Sara leaves him, and she goes to lift one of her cousins’ children out of a crib. She holds the baby lovingly and speaks comforting words to the child. “Don’t be afraid. It will soon be day again. No one will hurt you. She carries the baby inside the house. Borg approaches the crib.
Suddenly Borg is walking alone. He comes upon a house and hears the piano playing. He looks through the window. Sara is playing. His brother Sigfrid stands behind her, and then he reaches over to kiss the nape of her neck. Then they kiss on the mouth. He leads her to the small dining room table, and the two lift a toast to each other. The shot darkens and now we see a quick shot of the moon.
15. Borg is alone again standing along the wall of a house. He moves to a door and raps on it. Suddenly he realizes he has cut his palm on a nail. Then the door opens and a man welcomes him in. We vaguely recognize the man. He is a version of Alman, the abusive husband Borg picked up after the accident. T he stranger invites him into the house, takes him through a door, then through a long hallway, unlocks a door, invites him inside the room, and Borg realizes he is now standing inside what appears to be a lecture hall. Several “students” are sitting behind desks that look like unfinished crates. Something is not quite right. The examiner asks him to look through a microscope. But Borg can’t make out what is on the slide. He sees what appears to be an image of an eyeball. But the examiner maintains there is nothing wrong with the apparatus. Then he asks Borg to read something written on the blackboard. Borg doesn’t know what it means. “What you see on the blackboard is the doctor’s first duty.” But Borg can’t answer the question of what this statement means. Finally the examiner informs him, “A doctor’s first duty is to ask for forgiveness.” Borg laughs awkwardly affirming this answer. He turns around, expecting the people in attendance to laugh with him. They are silent. The examiner says, “You have been accused of guilt. I’ll make a note that you haven’t understood the charge. Then Borg maintains that the examiner should be lenient with him. “I’m an old man. It’s only fair.” The examiner says, “There’s nothing about your heart in my papers. Do you want to stop the exam?” But Borg insists it continue. So the examiner stands up, moves to another area of the room, and turns a harsh light on. Then he asks Borg to make a diagnosis of the patient. Borg looks down at a woman, seated, and lifts up her head. This woman looks familiar. She is the same woman that played the abusive husband’s wife earlier in the film. Borg concludes, “She is dead.” Then the woman lifts her head and laughs derisively. Borg goes over to the examiner. “What are you writing?” “My verdict. That you are incompetent. You are also accused of some minor but still serious offenses—callousness, selfishness, ruthlessness. Your wife has made the charge.” But Borg insists that his wife has been dead for years. The examiner orders Borg to follow him.
16. They go outside. The examiner leads him to what appears to be a burned-out house. Borg stands behind a singed ladder, and suddenly in a glade across the way he spies his wife Karin. She is with a man, and the man seems bent on seducing her. At first she laughs at him, in a flirtatious way, but when he seizes her she fends him off. Then she runs about, flirting some more, and then she drops to the ground. He moves to her and raises her head by grasping the back of her hair. She laughs. He falls upon her. Borg watches from the ruin. “Many forget a woman who has been dead for 30 years,” the examiner says. “Some cherish a sweet and fading picture, but you can recall this scene at any time.” He even cites a date in 1917. He notes that Borg stood on this very spot and saw this scene.” Cut to the image of Karin. She is seated. She pulls her dress over her knees. She says, “Now I’ll go home and tell Isak. I know just what he’ll say. ‘My poor girl, I’m sorry for you.’” Reaction shot of Borg. Back to Karin. “Just as if he were God.” She continues, “Then I’ll weep and say, ‘Do you really feel sorry for me?’ He’ll say, ‘Yes, very sorry.’ Then I’ll weep even more and ask him to forgive me.’ Reaction shot of Borg as she continues, “’You mustn’t beg my forgiveness. There is nothing to forgive.’ Back to Karin. “’but he doesn’t mean a word he says. Because he’s as cold as ice.” She recalls saying to him that “his hypocrisy makes me sick.” She goes on to lament that he will only prescribe a sedative. “And I tell him it’s his fault that I am as I am.” But when she says that, he tells her that it is his fault. She concludes, “But he doesn’t really care about anything because he’s so cold.” Cut to wide shot as she gets up in the glade and walks away. Reaction shot of Borg as he comes out from behind the ladder and stares after her. Where is Karin? “Removed by an operation, Professor,” the examiner says. "A surgical masterpiece. No pain. Borg asks, “And the punishment?” “The usual,” the examiner says. “Loneliness. Camera in on Borg. “IS there no mercy?” “”The examiner says, “Don’t ask me. I don’t know.” The shot of Borg dissolves to a shot of Borg waking up in the passenger’s seat of his car
17. Marianne points out that the young people are out picking bouquets for the professor. She told him about the honor he will receive. He tells her he has been having weird dreams. The point seems to be “as if I must tell myself something I won’t listen to when I’m awake.” She asks what that is. He tells her, “That I’m dead although I’m alive.” That gets her attention. “You and Evald are very alike,” she says sadly. She explains that he once said the same thing to her. “But he’s only 38,” Borg says. She wants to tell him about her encounter with Evald. She recalls a time they drove down to the sea. Cut to the flashback: and there sits Evald in the passenger seat. He asks her what she wants to talk about. He wonders if she has found another man. She smiles at this. But he wants her to get to the point. So she does: “I’m going to have a baby.” His reaction is negative. “Is that your secret?” Then she lays it out: “I intend to have this child.” He gets out of the car and stands in the rain. She joins him. Notice his back is to the camera—whereas she faces him in a profile. Shot. “You know I don’t want a child.” He tells her she must choose between him and the child. Then he states his point of view: “It’s absurd to bring children into this world and think they’ll be better off than we are.” Then his context: “I was an unwanted child in a hellish marriage.” He wonders if Borg is even sure Evald is his own son. Evald is a doctor—and now he says he must be at the hospital soon. “You’re a coward,” she says. He turns to her: “Yes, life sickens me. I will not be forced to take on a responsibility that will make me live one day longer than I want to.” They return to the car. “There is neither right nor wrong,” he says. “We act according to our needs.” He clarifies: “Yours is a hellish desire to live and to create life. Mine is to be dead. Stone-dead.
18. Returns to close-up of Marianne. Borg asks her why she told him about her argument with Evald. “I saw you with your mother, and I was panic stricken.” She clarifies: “I thought, that’s his mother. An old woman—cold as ice. More forbidding than death. And this is her son. And there are light-years between them. He himself says he’s a living corpse. And Evald is growing just as lonely, cold and dead.” She thought of her baby. “All along the line, there’s nothing but cold and death and loneliness. It must end somewhere.” She has made a decision. She is going to tell Evald she will not agree to his conditions. “I want this child. No one can take it from me. Not even the man I love most of all.” Borg asks if he can help her. “No one can help me,” she says almost in tears. Borg asks what happened after their encounter. She says she left him the next day. He wonders if Evald has been in touch with her. But no. She worries that she and Evald might become “like those two in the car today.” Borg understands. “It reminded me of my own marriage. Suddenly the young folks show up with their flowers that they shower upon Borg. “We know that you must be a very wise man who knows everything about life. But he says it’s time to move on. They may be late. The three young people, all in the window next to him, smile at him as he seems to descend into a reflective state. Suddenly the light goes down and he is surrounded in darkness.
19. They arrive at Evald’s. Agda is there to greet them. Inside the house, Evald, already in his tuxedo, greets his father. Marianne enters too. Agda goes up to the guest room with Borg. Evald and Marianne talk about her next move. She plans to leave tomorrow.
20. Lund Cathedral. Evald joins his father in the long procession. The young people stand alongside the procession and wave at Borg. Inside the cathedral the guests stand as the procession enters. Borg is called to the front of the church and is given a special top hat. In his voice-over he notes that his mind strayed during the day’s events. During those musings he decided to write down what happened. “In this jumble of events, I seemed to discern an extraordinary logic.” The ceremony ends with him bowing to the crowd.
21. Afterwards, Borg is at Evald’s house and Agda gives him some pills before bedtime. He apologizes for his behavior toward Agda that morning. She is not sure she trusts this “new Borg.” But she does thank him anyway before she leaves. He sits on the bed, “As we have known each other for so many years, don’t you think we could call each other Agda and Isak?” Her answer: “No, I don’t.” Then she says, “No intimacies for me. It’s all right between us as it is.” Borg says, “But we are old now.” Her response: “Speak for yourself. A woman is jealous of her reputation. What would people say? They would make make fun of us. At our age we should know how to behave.” Then she leaves, but leaves the door ajar in case he needs her for anything. Suddenly he hears some singing outside. He goes to the window, and there are the three young people serenading him. “Father Isak! You were splendid in the procession! We were terribly proud to know you!” They tell him they got a ride as far as Hamburg. He thanks them for their company. The young men leave. She leans forward and says, “It’s you I really love, you know—today, tomorrow, always!” He says, “I’ll remember.” Then she is off.
22. Borg is not asleep yet. He hears Evald & Marianne behind the door and calls for his son. Evald comes in and sits near his bed. "How is it to be between you and Marianne?” Borg asks. (Note that Evald sits with his back to his father—we can see his facial expression.) Borg is tactful, apologetic, saying it’s none of his business. His demeanor sparks Evald into disclosing his feelings. “I have asked her to stay with me. I can’t live without her.” “You mean alone?” “I can’t live without her. That’s what I mean.” Now Borg thinks to bring up the debt—he is about to say that he will forgive the debt. But now Evald turns to him for the first time and says, “Don’t worry. You’ll get your money.” Suddenly Marianne comes in, and she goes over to the bed and embraces Borg. He says, “Thanks for coming with me. I like you, Marianne.” She reaches down and he kisses her cheek. “I like you too, Uncle Isak.” She leaves.
23. His voice-over: “If I have been worried or sad during the day, if often calms me to recall childhood memories.” Suddenly we are dropped back into the past at Borg’s summer house. Several of the family members are milling about outside. Then Sara runs toward the foreground, and she addresses Borg. She tells him there are “no wild strawberries left.” She tells him he is supposed to look for Papa. Reaction shot of Borg—the old Borg—as he responds: “I can’t find either Papa or Mama.” She says she will help him. She enters the frame where he stands and takes his arm. She leads him across a meadow and then stops atop a ridge. She points in the distance. We can see, from his point of view, a tableau of his parents—his father sitting along the edge of the river (his fishing pole upright), and his mother lying on a blanket behind her husband. His mother waves. Back to Borg and Sara. She leaves. Again we see his point of view. Then a close-up reaction shot of Borg. This image dissolves to show Borg in bed—his eyes open. He seems to smile and turn toward his side in the bed. Fade to black.
Film resource written by Robert E. Yahnke
Copyright, Robert E. Yahnke, © 2009
Professor, Univ. of Minnesota
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