Wild Strawberries (1957) – Transcript

After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.
Wild Strawberries (1957)

Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means “the wild strawberry patch” but idiomatically signifies an underrated gem of a place, often with personal or sentimental value. The cast includes Victor Sjöström in his final screen performance as an old man recalling his past, as well as Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, and Gunnar Björnstrand. Max von Sydow also appears in a small role.


Grouchy, stubborn, and egotistical Professor Isak Borg is a widowed 78-year-old physician who specialized in bacteriology. Before specializing he served as a general practitioner in rural Sweden. He sets out on a long car ride from Stockholm to Lund to be awarded the degree of Doctor Jubilaris 50 years after he received his doctorate from Lund University. He is accompanied by his pregnant daughter-in-law Marianne who does not much like her father-in-law and is planning to separate from her husband, Evald, Isak’s only son, who does not want her to have the baby, their first.

During the trip, Isak is forced by nightmares, daydreams, old age, and impending death to reevaluate his life. He meets a series of hitchhikers, each of whom sets off dreams or reveries into Borg’s troubled past. The first group consists of two young men and their companion, a woman named Sara who is adored by both men. Sara is a double for the love of Isak’s youth. He reminisces about his childhood at the seaside and his sweetheart Sara, with whom he remembered gathering strawberries, but who instead married his brother. The first group remains with him throughout his journey. Next Isak and Marianne pick up an embittered middle-aged couple, the Almans, whose vehicle has nearly collided with theirs. The pair exchanges such terrible vitriol and venom that Marianne stops the car and demands that they leave. The couple reminds Isak of his own unhappy marriage. In a dream sequence, Isak is asked by Sten Alman, now the examiner, to read “foreign” letters on the blackboard. He cannot. So, Alman reads it for him: “A doctor’s first duty is to ask forgiveness,” from which he concludes, “You are guilty of guilt.”

He is confronted by his loneliness and aloofness, recognizing these traits in both his elderly mother (whom they stop to visit) and in his middle-aged physician son, and he gradually begins to accept himself, his past, his present, and his approaching death.

Borg finally arrives at his destination and is promoted to Doctor Jubilaris, but this proves to be an empty ritual. That night, he bids a loving goodbye to his young friends, to whom the once bitter old man whispers in response to a playful declaration of the young girl’s love, “I’ll remember.” As he goes to his bed in his son’s home, he is overcome by a sense of peace, and dreams of a family picnic by a lake. Closure and affirmation of life have finally come, and Borg’s face radiates joy.


In our relations with other people, we mainly discuss and evaluate their character and behavior. That is why I have withdrawn from nearly all so-called relations. This has made my old age rather lonely. My life has been full of hard work, and I am grateful. It began as toil for bread and butter and ended in a love for science. I have a son, also a doctor, who lives in Lund. He has been married for many years. They have no children. My old mother is still alive and is very active, in spite of her age. My wife Karin has been dead for many years.

Dinner is served, Professor Borg.

Thank you.

I am lucky in having a good housekeeper. Perhaps I should add that I am an old pedant, which at times has been rather trying for myself and those around me.

My name is Isak Borg, and I am 78. Tomorrow I shall receive an honorary degree in Lund Cathedral.


In the early hours of June 1 st, I had a weird and very unpleasant dream. I dreamt that during my morning walk I lost my way among empty streets with ruined houses.

Are you ill?

Miss Agda, please prepare some breakfast. I’m taking the car.

Please, Professor! Go back to bed and I’ll bring you coffee at 9:00, and we’ll leave at 10:00 as planned.

Oh, well, I’ll go without breakfast.

And who will pack your tails?

I will do it myself.

And what about me?

You can come in the car or fly. Please yourself.

I’ve looked forward to seeing you get your honorary degree. And we had arranged everything so nicely, and now you’re taking the car.

The ceremony isn’t until 5:00. If I leave at once, I’ve got 14 hours before the ceremony.

You’ll ruin everything! What about your son who is expecting you at the airport in Malmo?

You can think up an explanation.

If you go by car, I won’t come at all.

Now listen, Miss Agda!

Take the car, and you’ll ruin the greatest day of my life.

We’re not married, Miss Agda.

I thank God for that every night. I’ve used my common sense for 74 years, and it won’t let me down now.

Is that your last word?

Yes. But I shall say plenty to myself about selfish, crabby old men who never think of those who have served them faithfully for 40 years.

Incredible that I have put up… with your bossing for so long.

Just give the word, and I’ll leave tomorrow.

I’m going by car anyway, and you can do as you damn well please.

I happen to be grown-up and needn’t take orders from you. No one can pack like you, Miss Agda.


Old sourpuss.

Shall I boil you a couple of eggs?

Yes, please, if you will be so extremely kind. The faculty should have made me honorary idiot. I’ll calm the old girl down with a present. I hate resentful people. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, let alone Miss Agda.


No, don’t trouble yourself on my account.

What are you cross about?

Don’t you want a cup?

Good morning, Uncle Isak.

Well, well, why is my daughter-in-law up at this hour?

Who can sleep when you and Aunt Agda are making such a row?

There has been no row.

No, not at all.

You’re taking the car to Lund?


Can I come with you?

You’re going home?

Yes, I want to go home.

Home to Evald?

You don’t need to ask why. I would take the train if I could afford it.

Of course you may ride with me.

I’ll be ready in ten minutes.

Good heavens!

Please don’t smoke. I can’t stand cigarette smoke.

I forgot.

There should be a law forbidding women to smoke.

Beautiful weather.

Yes, but sultry. I think we’ll have a thunderstorm.

So do I.

No, give me a cigar anytime. That’s stimulating and relaxing. That’s a vice for men.

And what vices may a woman have?

Weeping, giving birth and speaking ill of her neighbors.

How old are you really, Uncle Isak?

Why do you ask?

No reason. Why?

I know why you asked.

Oh, well.

Don’t pretend. You don’t like me. You never have.

I only know you as a father-in-law.

Why are you going home?

On impulse. Nothing more.

Evald happens to be my son.

So he is.

Evald and I are very much alike. We have our principles.

You don’t need to tell me that.

Now, this loan, for instance.

I know exactly what you’re going to say. He should have paid it back when he became an associate professor. It’s a matter of honor for him to pay back 5,000 a year, and so on, and so on.

A promise is a promise.

For us, it means that we never can be free together, and that your son works himself to death.

You have your own income.

Especially when one considers the fact that you’re filthy rich and don’t need the money.

A promise is a promise. And I know Evald respects that.

Perhaps. But he also hates you.

What do you have against me?

Shall I be frank?

Yes, I’m asking you.

You’re a selfish old man, Uncle Isak. 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 you can’t fool us who have seen you at close quarters. Remember when I came to you a month ago? I had a stupid idea that you might help Evald and me. So I asked to stay with you for a week or two. Remember what you answered?

I said I’d be delighted.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but you said, “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.”

Did I say that?

Not only that.

Oh, no.

These were your very words: “I have no respect for mental suffering, so don’t come lamenting to me. If you need therapy, you’d better see a shrink. Or why not a minister? It’s in fashion now.”

Did I say that?

Your judgments are very categorical, Uncle Isak. I should hate to depend on you.

I have liked having you about the house.

Like a cat.

A cat or a human being. You’re a fine young woman, and I’m sorry you dislike me.

I don’t dislike you.


I feel sorry for you.

Sorry? I’d like to tell you about a dream I had this morning.

I’m not very interested in dreams.

No. No, of course not.

Where are you going now?

I want to show you something.

We lived here every summer during the first 20 years of my life. There were ten of us children. Perhaps you knew that.

Does anyone live here now?

No, not this summer.

I’ll go swimming, if you don’t mind. We have plenty of time.

Yes, by all means, do.

The place where wild strawberries grow! Perhaps I got a little sentimental. Perhaps I got a little tired and felt a bit sad. It’s not impossible that I began to think of this and that, associated with places where I played as a child. I don’t know how it happened, but the day’s clear reality dissolved into the even clearer images of memory that appeared before my eyes with the strength of a true stream of events.

Sara. Sara, it’s your cousin Isak. Well, I’ve become quite old, of course, so I don’t look the same. But you, you haven’t changed at all.

Good morning, sweet cousin. What are you doing?

Picking strawberries, silly. Can’t you see?

And who shall be favored with these delicious berries picked in the early morn by a lovely young woman?

Nonsense. You know quite well that it’s Uncle Aron’s name day today. I forgot to make a present. So he’ll get a basket of wild strawberries instead.

I’ll help you.

You see, Sigbritt and Charlotta made a tapestry and Angelica baked a cake, and Anna has painted a really good picture, and Kristina and Birgitta wrote a song that they’ll sing to him.

That’s the best one. Uncle Aron is stone-deaf.

He’ll be very pleased, and you’re stupid.

And you have a darned cute nape.

You know you shouldn’t do that.

Says who?

I say. Besides, you’re an unusually insufferable young man who thinks he’s really something.

I’m your cousin, and you’re in love with me.

With you!

Come and be kissed on the lips.

If you don’t behave, I’ll tell Isak you’re always trying to kiss me.

Little Isak! I could beat him up with one arm.

You know quite well that Isak and I are secretly engaged.

So secretly, everyone knows it.

It’s not my fault that the twins let the cat out of the bag.

When is the wedding? When is the wedding?

I don’t know which of you four brothers is the least conceited, but I think it’s Isak. Isak is the nicest, anyway. And you’re the horridest, nastiest, silliest, stupidest… I can’t find the words to describe you!

Admit you’ve got a weak spot for me.

And you reek of cigars.

It’s a nice manly smell.

And the twins, who know most things, say you’ve been up to no good with that Berglund girl. She’s not a nice girl, the twins say. And I agree.

How pretty you are when you blush. You must kiss me. I can’t bear it any longer. Now that I think of it, I’m madly in love with you.

You’re just saying that.


And the twins say that you’re mad about girls. Is that true?

Oh, look what you’ve done! And what will Isak say, who really loves me? I’m so sad! You’ve hurt me so! You’ve made a bad woman of me. At any rate, nearly. I never want to see you again, at least not before brunch. I have to hurry. Help me pick up the strawberries. Oh, and now I’ve got a stain on my apron!

Where’s Isak?

Out fishing with Papa, and they can’t hear the gong. Anyway, Papa said not to wait with brunch.

In Jesus’ name we take our seat.

Bless, O Lord, this food we eat. Amen.

Benjamin, go and wash your hands at once. How old do you have to be to learn cleanliness?

I have.

Sigbritt, pass Angelica the porridge. Your fingernails are filthy. Hagbart, pass the bread. Don’t take so much butter. Charlotta, the salt is lumpy. You let it get damp. How often have I told you not to let it sit out?

It’s paint under my nails.

Who gathered the wild strawberries for me?

I did.


Speak up, dear. Uncle Aron can’t hear.

I did!

Fancy your remembering my name day. How kind of you.

Couldn’t Uncle have a drink to celebrate?

Never when Papa is not at home.

Uncle has already had three drinks. We saw him when we went out to bathe at 8:00.

So you’ve picked berries too. Thank you.

Twins, speak when spoken to. And as you didn’t make your beds, you can dry the silver.

You will do as Auntie says. Benjamin, don’t bite your nails. Anna, what are you doing? Remember you’re not a little girl anymore.

I want to give Uncle my picture. Please, Auntie, can’t we give him our presents now?

Where is your present?

Under the table.

No, after we’ve eaten.

A very advanced work of art: Fritjof and Ingeborg. You can’t tell which is Fritjof!

What were Sara and Sigfrid doing in the wild strawberry patch? We saw you! We saw you!

The twins ought to be muzzled.

The twins will be quiet or leave the table.

No freedom of speech, eh?

Shut up, you brats.

Sara’s blushing! Sara’s blushing!

Sigfrid is blushing too! Sigfrid and Sara! Sigfrid and Sara!

Quiet, everybody!

But Sara!

They’re lying! They’re lying!

Isak is so fine and good, so moral and sensitive. He wants us to read poetry and talk about the next life and play four-handed piano. And he only wants to kiss in the dark, and he talks about sin. He’s on such a terribly high level, and I feel so worthless. And I am worthless… there’s no denying it. But sometimes it seems to me that I’m a lot older than Isak, if you know what I mean. And then I think he’s a child, although we’re the same age. And Sigfrid is so bold and exciting, and I want to go home. I don’t want to be here all summer and be an object of ridicule for the twins and all of you. I don’t want to!

I’ll speak to Sigfrid. If he doesn’t behave, I’ll make sure he’s made to study during the summer holidays. Papa will fix that as easy as anything. He too thinks Sigfrid is a good-for-nothing and needs to work.

Poor little Isak who’s so good to me. How unfair everything is.

All will be well, you’ll see. Listen, now they’re singing for Uncle Aron.

How silly to write a song for a deaf old man. How typical of the twins.

# Flowers nod, grasses bow

# Around our lovely house

# We our Uncle Aron celebrate

# And with our song

# Ornament his brow

Four cheers for Uncle Aron.

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

I’ll run down and meet Isak and Uncle.

You do that.

I was overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness and sadness, but was soon awakened from my reveries by the voice of a young girl asking me repeatedly about something.

Is this your house?

No, it’s not.

You’re lucky to be telling the truth. It’s my dad who owns the whole headland, including the house.

I lived here once. Two hundred years ago.

Oh, yeah? Is that your car up at the gate?

Yes, that’s my car.

Looks antique.

Yes, it’s antique, like its owner.

So you have self-irony too. That’s fantastic. Where are you going? I mean, in which direction?

Well, I’m going to Lund.

But that suits me perfectly. You see, I’m on my way to Italy.

I’m honored.

My name’s Sara. Silly name, isn’t it?

My name’s Isak. It’s silly too.

Weren’t they married?

No, unfortunately. That was Abraham and Sara.

Let’s leave, then.

I have another lady with me. Here she comes. Marianne, this is Sara.


We’re going to have company as far as Lund. Sara’s off to Italy, but she’s promised to ride a ways with us.

Ironic again, but it suits you. Let’s be off.

Hey, guys, I’ve got a lift almost to Italy. That’s Anders and that’s Viktor and this is Father Isak. That peach you’re gaping at is Marianne.

What a big bus.

Yes, there’s room for us all. Put your luggage in the trunk, if you don’t mind.

I must tell you, Isak, that Anders and I are going steady. We’re crazy about each other.

Viktor’s the chaperone. Daddy insisted. Viktor is in love with me too. It’s a brilliant move of Daddy’s. I may have to seduce Viktor to get rid of him. I’d better tell you I’m a virgin. That’s why I’m so cheeky. And I smoke a pipe. Viktor says it’s good for you. He’s crazy about anything healthy.

I was once in love with a woman called Sara.

No! She was like me, wasn’t she?

She was, actually.

What happened to her?

She married my brother Sigfrid and had six children. She’s 75 now and quite a beautiful old lady.

I can’t think of anything worse than growing old. Oh, dear, now I have put my foot in it.

Are you all right? I have no excuse. It’s all our fault. My wife was driving. Are you all right? The murderers must introduce themselves! My name’s Alman. That’s my wife Berit. You can see she has been an actress. That’s the complication we were discussing when… Come here, Berit, and say you’re sorry.

I’m so sorry. It was all my fault. I was just going to hit my husband when that curve appeared. God punishes some people at once, eh, you Catholic?

Let’s get your car upright.

Oh, never mind us. Please.

Shut up, Sten. Some people are unselfish, though you don’t think so.

My wife is a little nervous. We’ve had a shock.

Just look at him measuring his strength with the youngsters, straining his flabby muscles to show off in front of that cute girl. Darling, you might have a stroke.

My wife likes ridiculing me. I let her. It’s psychotherapy.

I never know whether my wife is really crying or just playacting. I’ll be damned if it isn’t real. It happens when you catch a glimpse of death.

Can’t you shut up?

My wife can really live a part. For two years, she made me think she had cancer and plagued us with every possible symptom, even though the doctors could find nothing wrong with her. Eventually we believed her more than the doctors!

It’s natural that you’re upset, but why not leave your wife in peace for a while?

A woman has a right to her tears, eh? Don’t get in the way of a woman’s tears. You are beautiful, but old Berit’s a bit past her prime. So you can afford to defend her.

I sympathize with her. For several reasons.

Very sarcastic! Yet you don’t seem in the least hysterical. But little Berit is. Do you know what that means for me?

I gather you’re a Catholic.

Quite right. That’s how I stand it. We ridicule each other. She has her hysteria. I have my Catholicism. So, you see, we need each other.

It’s only egoism that we haven’t killed each other.

There it came. That’s what is called syncopes, isn’t it? Very funny. If I’d had a stopwatch, I could have timed the explosion.

Shut up! Shut up!

This may be too blunt, but for the children’s sake, will you please get out.

Forgive us, if you can.

It was with mixed feelings I saw this region again. I had my first practice here, and my old mother lives nearby.

Hello there, Doctor. So you’re in these parts again, Doctor? Shall I fill it up? Pass me the key to the hood. Eva! Come here a moment! It’s Dr. Borg in person. Mom and Dad and the whole countryside still talk about him. The world’s best doctor. Let’s call the baby after him. Isak Akerman… not a bad name for a prime minister.

Suppose it’s a girl.

We only have boys.

And how’s your father these days?

Oh, Dad’s getting a bit decrepit. But Mom’s as lively as a cricket. And you’re going to see your mother, Doctor? She’s amazing. She must be at least 95.


Imagine that.

What do I owe you?

This is on Eva and me!

Absolutely not!

Don’t insult us, Doctor. We can do the proper thing too! Why should you pay for my gasoline?

There are things that can’t be paid back… not even with gas.

We haven’t forgotten.

Ask anyone around here. They all remember your kindness.

Maybe I should have stayed here.

What do you mean? You said you should have stayed.

Did I? Well, thanks anyway. Let me know when the new son arrives, and I’ll be the godfather. You know where to find me.

During lunch I was in good spirits and told the young people about my years as district medical officer. My stories were quite a success, and I don’t think they laughed merely out of courtesy. I had wine with the lunch, and then port with the coffee.

Ah, when creation shows so much beauty, how radiant must be its source!

He is going to be a minister, and Viktor a doctor.

Reciting poetry is against our agreement not to discuss God or science on this trip.

It was beautiful!

How can anyone today study to become a minister!

Your rationalism is as dry as dust.

I say that modern man…

I say that…

believes only in himself and his biological death.

Modern man is a figment of your imagination. Man regards death with horror.

Religion for the people. Opium for the aching limb.

How sweet they both are! I always agree with the one I spoke with last.

Once you believed in Santa Claus… now in God.

You never had any imagination!

What do you say, Professor?

Whatever I said would be met with tolerant irony, so I’ll say nothing.

I’m sure they’ll be disappointed.

No, Sara. Very, very happy.

“Where is the friend I seek at break of day?

“When night falls, when…”

“When night falls, I still have not found Him.”

“My burning heart shows me His traces…”

Are you religious, Professor?

“I see His traces wherever flowers bloom.

“His love is mingled with every air.”

“His voice calls in the summer wind.”

Not bad for a love poem.

I’ve gone all solemn again for no reason.

Well, I’m going to call on my mother. I’ll be back soon.

May I come?

Of course.

Here comes the thunder.

I have just sent you a telegram on your great day. And now you’re here.

We all have our bright moments, dear Mother.

Is that your wife over there? I don’t want to talk to her. She has done us too much harm.

No, Mother dear. This is Evald’s wife, Marianne.

Well, let her come and say hello to me.

Good day, Mrs. Borg.

And why are you gadding about like this?

I have been in Stockholm for a visit.

Why aren’t you with Evald and the child?

Evald and I have no children.

These young people nowadays! I bore ten children. Will you please hand me that big box over there. My mother lived in this house. Do you remember coming to see her, Isak?

Very well.

Here are some of your toys. I have been trying to think which of you owned what. Ten children, and all dead except Isak. Twenty grandchildren. Evald’s the only one who comes to see me. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not complaining. Fifteen great-grandchildren whom I have never seen. I send presents for all their birthdays. I get letters of thanks, but nobody bothers to visit me unless they want to borrow money. Oh, I know I’m tiresome.

Don’t think that, Mother.

And I’ve one more fault. I don’t die. The inheritance isn’t being divided up the way these crafty young people had planned. This was Sigbritt’s doll. She got it when she turned eight. I made the dress myself. But she never cared for it so it went to Charlotta. She took care of it… I remember it clearly. Do you see who that is? Sigfrid was three and you were five. And myself. What a fright one looked in those days.

May I have it?

By all means. It’s only rubbish. And here’s a coloring book. I don’t know whose it was. They’ve all put their names in it. Kristina has scrawled: “I love Papa more than anything in the whole world.” And Birgitta has put: “I’m going to marry Papa.” Isn’t that funny? I laughed when I saw it. Don’t you think it’s cold in here?

No, not particularly.

I have felt cold all my life. Mostly my stomach. I wonder why.

You have low blood pressure.

Let us have some tea, and we can sit and talk.

No, thank you, Mother. We won’t disturb you any longer.

Sigbritt’s eldest boy will soon be 50. I thought of giving him Father’s gold watch. It has no hands. Does that matter? I remember when Sigbritt’s boy was a newborn. He used to lie in the lilac arbor at the summer house. Now he’s turning 50. And little cousin Sara used to carry him around and sing to him. She married Sigfrid, that good-for-nothing. Well, you must go now, or you’ll be late for the ceremony. I am very glad you came, and I hope to see you again. Give my love to Evald. Good-bye.

Where are Anders and Viktor?

They started arguing about God, and then they lost their tempers. And Anders tried to twist Viktor’s arm, and Viktor said that was a lousy argument for God’s existence. I said they could talk about me instead. Then they told me to shut up because I didn’t understand the debate, so I left. They went up the hill to fight it out because each insisted… the other had hurt his innermost feelings.

Where are they now?

Up there.

I’ll see to them.

Which one do you like best?

Which one do you like best?

I don’t know. Anders is going to be a minister… He’s a darling. But a minister’s wife… Viktor’s nice too. In a different way. Viktor will go far, of course.

What do you mean?

A doctor earns more money. And ministers are out of date. Though he has got nice legs and a sweet neck. But how can anyone believe in God?

Well? Does God exist?

I dozed off, but was haunted by vivid and humiliating dreams. There was something overpowering in these dream images that bored relentlessly into my mind.

Have you looked in the mirror, Isak? Then I’ll show you what you look like. You’re a worried old man who’s soon going to die, but I have all my life before me. That hurt your feelings, after all.

No, it didn’t hurt.

Yes, it hurt because you can’t bear the truth. The truth is that I’ve been too considerate. And so became unintentionally cruel.

I understand.

No, you don’t understand. We don’t speak the same language. Look in the mirror again. No, don’t turn away.

I see.

Listen to me. I’m going to marry your brother Sigfrid. Love is almost a game for us. Look at your face now. Try to smile! There! Now you’re smiling.

But it hurts so.

As professor emeritus, you ought to know why it hurts. But you don’t know. You know so much, and you don’t know anything. I must go. I promised to keep an eye on Sigbritt’s baby.

Poor little thing. Hush, baby. Sleep. Don’t be afraid of the wind or the birds or the waves of the sea. I’m here with you, holding you tight. Don’t be afraid, little one. It will soon be day again. No one will hurt you. I am with you. I am holding you.

Please come in, Professor Borg.

Have you brought your examination book?

Please identify the bacterial specimen under the microscope.

There must be something wrong.

Not with the microscope.

I can’t see a thing.

Please read this text.

What does it mean?

I don’t know.


I’m a doctor, not a linguist.

What you see on the blackboard is a doctor’s first duty.

Don’t you know what that is?

Let me think.

Take your time.

A doctor’s first duty…

A doctor’s…

I’ve forgotten.

A doctor’s first duty is to ask for forgiveness.

Of course! Now I remember!

You have been accused of guilt.

I’ll make a note that you haven’t understood the charge.

Is it serious?

Unfortunately, Professor.

I have a weak heart.

I’m an old man.

You must be lenient with me. It’s only fair.

There’s nothing about your heart in my papers.

Do you want to stop the examination?

No, for God’s sake, no!

Please diagnose the patient.

The patient is dead.

What are you writing in my book?

My verdict.

And that is?

That you are incompetent.

You are also accused of some minor but still serious offenses.

Callousness, selfishness, ruthlessness.

Your wife has made the charge.

You’ll be confronted with her.

But my wife has been dead for years!

Do you think I’m joking?

Please come with me.

You have no choice.

Many forget a woman who has been dead for 30 years.

Some cherish a sweet and fading picture, but you can recall this scene at any time.

Tuesday, May 1 st, 1917.

You stood on this very spot.

And heard and saw what that man and woman said and did.

Now I’ll go home and tell Isak. I know just what he’ll say.

“My poor girl, I’m sorry for you.”

Just as if he were God.

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.

He’ll say, “You mustn’t beg my forgiveness. There is nothing to forgive.”

But he doesn’t mean a word he says because he’s cold as ice.

And suddenly he gets very tender, and I scream at him that he’s mad and that his hypocrisy makes me sick.

Then he says he’ll get me a sedative and that he understands everything quite well.

And I tell him it’s his fault that I am as I am.

And he looks sad and says it is his fault.

But he doesn’t really care about anything because he’s so cold.

Where is she?

Gone. All are gone.

Removed by an operation, Professor.

A surgical masterpiece. No pain.

Nothing that bleeds or trembles.

How silent it is.

A perfect achievement in its way, Professor.

And the punishment?

I don’t know. The usual, I suppose.

The usual?




Is there no mercy?

Don’t ask me. I don’t know.

What’s this?

The children wanted to stretch their legs.

But it’s still raining.

I told them about today and they want to honor you.

Slept well?

Yes, but recently I’ve had the weirdest dreams, as if I must tell myself something I won’t listen to when I’m awake.

What’s that?

That I’m dead. Although I’m alive.

You and Evald are very alike.

So you’ve said.

He said the same thing.

About me?

No. About himself.

But he’s only 38.

May I tell you about it?

Yes, I’d be grateful.

A few months ago I wanted to talk to Evald, so he drove me down to the sea.

It was raining then too. He sat where you sit now.

Well, you’ve trapped me. What do you want to say?

Something unpleasant, of course.

I wish I didn’t have to.

You have found someone else.

Don’t be childish.

You tell me in funereal tones that you must talk to me, and then you find it hard to begin.

Come on, for heaven’s sake! Don’t keep me on tenterhooks!

I almost want to laugh now.

Whatever do you think I’m going to tell you?

That I’ve killed someone, or stolen the faculty funds?

I’m going to have a baby.

Are you sure?

The doctor told me yesterday.

So that was the secret.

I might as well tell you that I intend to have this child.

You’ve made up your mind?

Yes, I have.

You know I don’t want a child.

You’ll have to choose between me and the child.

Poor Evald.

Don’t “poor Evald” me!

It’s absurd to bring children into this world and think they’ll be better off than we are.

That’s just an excuse.

Call it what you want.

I was an unwanted child in a hellish marriage.

Is he even sure I’m his son?

That’s no excuse for behaving like this.

I must be at the hospital at 3:00.

I have neither the time nor the desire to discuss this any further.

You’re a coward.


This life sickens me.

I will not be forced to take on a responsibility that will make me live for one day longer than I want to.

And you know that I mean what I say.

I know that this is wrong.

There’s neither right nor wrong.

We act according to our needs.

And what are they?

Yours is a hellish desire to live and to create life.

And yours?

Mine is to be dead. Stone-dead.

If you want to smoke a cigarette, I don’t mind.

Why have you told me all this?

I saw you with your mother, and I was panic-stricken.

I don’t understand.

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.

And I thought of the baby inside me.

All along the line, there’s nothing but cold and death and loneliness.

It must end somewhere.

But you’re going back to Evald!

To say I can’t agree to his conditions.

I want this child. No one can take it from me.

Not even the man I love most of all.

Can I help you?

No one can help me.

We are too old. Things have gone too far.

What happened after your talk?

Nothing. I left him the next day.

Hasn’t he gotten in touch with you?

I don’t want us to get…

To get what?

Like those two in the car today.

I was just thinking of them.

It reminded me of my own marriage.

But we love each other.

Long may he live Long may he live

May he live to be a hundred years old

We heard you’re celebrating a grand occasion today.

With these simple flowers we want to say that we are very impressed that you’ve been a doctor for 50 years.

We know you must be a very wise old man who knows everything about life and has learned all the instructions by heart.

Thank you.

Now we must go on. It’s getting late.

So you did come. Evald and I had given up hope.

A nice drive is relaxing, isn’t it?

You’ll have to get into your tails at once.

Good afternoon, Marianne. I’ve told Evald you’re coming.

Thank you. That was most kind.

So you came after all, Miss Agda.

I considered it my duty. But my pleasure’s been spoiled.

Welcome, Father.

As you see, I’ve brought Marianne with me.

Hello, Marianne.

May I put my things upstairs?

The guest room as usual, Father?

Let me take your bag. It’s rather heavy.

Did you have a good trip?

Yes, it was pleasant.

Who are those young people?

I don’t know. They’re nice, and they’re off to Italy.

They seem nice.

Yes, they’re very nice.

It’s a quarter past 4:00.

I’ve bought you new shoelaces.

I’m leaving tomorrow, so don’t worry.

Are you going to a hotel?

No, why?

Can’t we share the bedroom for one more night? Unless you object.

Give me a hand unpacking?

It’s nice to see you.

And unexpected.

Same here.

Are we going on to the banquet afterwards?

Yes, I’ll just call Stenberg and tell him I’ll have a lady with me.

Hurry up, Professor!

During the ceremony, my thoughts strayed to the day’s events, and it was then I decided to write down what had happened.

In this jumble of events, I seemed to discern an extraordinary logic.

Did you enjoy the ceremony?

Yes, thank you.

Are you tired, Miss Agda?

I won’t deny it.

Take one of my sleeping pills.

Miss Agda, I am sorry about this morning.

Are you ill, Professor?

No. Why?

I don’t like the sound of it.

Is it so rare for me to say I’m sorry?

Do you want the carafe on the table?

Thank you anyway, Professor. Good night.

Miss Agda, as we have known each other for so many years, don’t you think we could call each other Agda and Isak?

No, I don’t.

Why not?

Have you brushed your teeth, Professor?

No intimacies for me, thank you.

It’s all right between us as it is.

But we are old now.

Speak for yourself. A woman is jealous of her reputation.

What would people think if we suddenly began to say Agda and Isak?

They would make fun of us.

Are you always right?

Almost always.

At our age, we should know how to behave.

Good night, Professor. I’ll leave the door ajar.

You know where I am if you want anything.

Father Isak! You were splendid in the procession.

We were terribly proud to know you.

An old girl is giving us a lift all the way to Hamburg.

Anders is mad about her.

Oh, be quiet.

We just wanted to say good-bye.

Good-bye. And thank you for your company.

It’s you I really love, you know.

Today, tomorrow, always.

I’ll remember.

Come on.

We have to go now.

Let me hear from you.

I think Uncle is asleep.


Yes, Father?

Are you back already?

Marianne lost the heel on a shoe.

So you’re going to the dance?

I suppose so.

How are you, Father?


Heart all right?


Sleep well.

Sit down a moment.

Anything special?

How is it to be between you and Marianne?

Forgive my asking.

I don’t know.

It’s not my business, but…

But wouldn’t it…

I have asked her to stay with me.

Shouldn’t you… I mean…

I can’t live without her.

You mean alone?

I can’t live without her. That’s what I mean.

Oh, I see.

It will be as she wants.

And she…

She says she’ll think about it.

About that debt of yours…

Don’t worry, you’ll get your money.

That’s not what I meant.

How are you, Uncle Isak?

Fine. Just fine.

I lost a heel. Will these shoes do?

They’re very nice.

Thanks for coming with me.

I like you, Marianne.

I like you too, Uncle Isak.

If I have been worried or sad during the day, it often calms me to recall childhood memories.

I did so on this evening too.

Isak, there are no wild strawberries left.

Auntie wants you to look for your papa.

We’ll sail around and meet you at the other side of the island.

I can’t find either Papa or Mama.

Come, I’ll help you.


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