1957. dir. Ingmar Bergman, starring Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin. Swedish with subtitles.
Seen it before? No.
They say that people who don't learn about mistakes in history are doomed to repeat them. Professor Isak Borg is about to get an honor for his lifelong dedication to medicine. It's great except he keeps on having nightmares where he dies...alone. He has a maid who has been his companion for over forty years. A daughter-in-law who is expecting and married to his son who is growing up to become as cranky as his father. He has a 95 year old mother who is a sourpuss...And he has memories of his love Sara who ends up marrying his brother.
Deciding to drive to the awards ceremony he ends up taking along his daughter-in-law, picking up hitchhikers (one who oddly resembles Sara and whose name IS Sara), and getting into an accident with a constantly bickering couple. He dreams when he sleeps and his nightmares are telling of a life of regret...that coupled with his daughter-in-law telling him why she is not fond of him and is thinking his son doesn't want children because he seemed not to have been wanted by his parents (Isak and his wife)...
The thing is Isak is turning out like his mother...cranky, bitter, and because of the first two traits alone. In the dream scenes you see what formed Isak into the man he becomes...but I see something better for Isak by the end of the movie. The hitchhikers remind him of youth and are so in awe of his accomplishments that they see him as someone other than a cranky old man. Communicating with his daughter-in-law proved fruitful. Their relationship ending better than it began in the movie. Even the relationship between Isak and his maid is cute...they seem more like an old married couple than a man and his maid.
This movie is bittersweet and because of the dream sequences sometimes confusing. I was at first taken aback by the hitchhiker Sara but found her incredibly endearing and her two travel partners were extremely entertaining...sparring over God. Think about it...if you have parents who have interesting relationships with their siblings wouldn't you want to make sure your relationships are better? If not, don't you just assume they'll be strained? So why not fix it so that the history that repeats itself for your children turn out better than that of their grandparents?
Would I see it again? Yes
Would I own it? Hmm...that's a tough call.
Lesson learned: be nicer...you won't end up alone...