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I am a 18 year old cineaste and I aspire to be a film director. For me the Criterion Collection is the greatest company there is. It is an ineffable combination the passion for art and technology. The amount of time put into each is truly an astonishing feat. I own 93.
The film that began my love for my favorite director: Ingmar Bergman. But actually it was the 3rd Bergman film I saw. "Persona" being the first and "The Virgin Spring" second. But it took "Wild Strawberries" to secure my love and fasten my curiosity and fascination with Bergman. I saw it in 2007 and it changed my outlook on cinema and broadened my horizons when it came to foreign film. It was actually through Netflix Streaming (when a wonderful portion of the Criterion Collection was able to be streamed). I experienced and learned about human nature; regret, resentment, isolation, loss, fear, hatred. These are aspects that I would soon learn all have a role in Bergman's films. I was also introduced to surrealism in cinema. I had seen before "Wild Strawberries" Woody Allen's underground masterpiece "Another Woman" which dealt with the same themes. I had always known Allen was a Bergman worshiper but I did not know where to find his work. The rest is self-explanatory. I felt personally moved by the film. It was so dark and disturbing to watch such a candid reflection on the human condition; yet relieving. Before this film, I was used to a 'portrayal' of humans; not a graphic and psychological breakdown. The film troubled my previous thought on film and I knew I had to watch it again to make certain it did in fact exist. It haunted me to the point where I realized, this is the only way to make film.
Like Robert Altman said, " 'The Rules of the Game' taught me the rules of the game." What was he referring to though? The way to make a movie or the way society works. For me it is the second. This film shocks me even today. It is too vivid a film; too close to reality for comfort. That's why it was controversial and burnt etc. Because it showed the world who they were- animals; brutal and cruel animals. And the world wanted to see themselves in the best light possible. But this film showed to underground of the bourgeois of the pre-WWII French society; of which Jean Renoir hated. But his hatred does not come as aggressively as he talks about it in interviews. He comically masks it. But the audience saw right through the mask. He was shocked at it's controversy; it was only a lighthearted dramedy on the surface.
So the film did something brash and bold: showed humans for what they truly have been, are and will be. For me, that is one of the greatest achievements possible. Humans are the most difficult subjects to capture on film but Renoir does it deftly. But some view it as satire. Like my favorite American film "Network," it is not satire....
What a film. Stripped of morals, convention and continuity; this is without a doubt in my mind one of the single greatest human achievements. I first saw this film expecting it to be what the IMDb description said: "Takes place in a chateau, an ambiguous story of a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad." So it's a conventional 50's romantic melodrama that Douglas Sirk could have easily done. Hardly. It is a avant-garde web of emotion, porcelain and glass; every facet making less sense than the previous- yet not unprecedented. Inundated with some of the greatest cinematography and lighting design ever. The look of the characters and the film itself is pristine. But, we feel nothing for the characters. No tears shed, no laughs, no hope, no climax, no denouement and no predictability. Can this even be made into a film? Only a film, actually, can do this. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, plays, songs in themselves can't do it. Yes, of course. The amount of negative reviews are rather astonishing. in 1961-62 there were mixed reviews. Even today people refuse to understand it. It is a maze of an enigma that no one will ever fully understand. Theories are presented; such as the film being a metaphor for rape or just a psychedelic art film about amnesia. Well it could be both or neither.; it's just that kind of film.