Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
With the exception of his elderly housekeeper Miss Agda who he treats almost like a surrogate platonic wife, widowed seventy-eight year old Dr. Isak Borg, a former medical doctor and professor, has retreated from any human contact, partly his own want but partly the decision of others who do not want to spend time with him because of his cold demeanor. He is traveling from his home in Stockholm to Lund to accept an honorary degree. Instead of flying as was the original plan, he decides to take the day long drive instead. Along for the ride is his daughter-in-law Marianne, who had been staying with him for the month but has now decided to go home. The many stops and encounters along the way make him reminisce about various parts of his life. Those stops which make him reminisce directly are at his childhood summer home, at the home of his equally emotionally cold mother, and at a gas station where the attendants praise him as a man for his work. But the lives of other people they ...Written by
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #139. See more »
It has been included as a continuity error that Marianne says she is going to go swimming at the old house, but when she returns her hair does not appear to be wet. This is not a continuity error, because when the film was shot in the late 1950s, and for at least a decade afterwards, at least in the Nordic countries women gathered their hair up and covered it with a special swimming cap to protect their hair from becoming wet. Some women who had grown up during those times used swimming caps as late as the 1980s, because they had grown up with the custom, and a swimming cap was to them just as integral part of swimming attire as a swimming suit. See more »
Professor Isak Borg:
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.
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(Slight Spoilers) A man's life journey is all seen through a number of dreams and hallucinations on his trip, some 400 miles, to the town of Lund where he's to receive a lifetime achievement award for his 50 or so years of service to his fellow man as a doctor and a professor of medicine at his alma mater the Cathedral of Lund.
Disturbed by a dream he had the night before Isak Borg decides to take a ride by car, not plane, to Lund for a ceremony thats to be in his honor for his work as a man of medicine. Isak's maid for some 40 years Agda is very upset with her boss' and good friends decision and decides to stay at home, she'll eventually show up at the ceremony, feeling that the old man has somehow lost control of his senses. It turns out that the long car trip together with his daughter-in-law Marianne was one of the best decision that he made in his long life, Isak is 78 years old. The trip that Isak takes will bring back past memories that he so desperately tried to hide from himself. That past will in effect make him not only a better person but bring back the feeling of humanity that he lost not only for himself over these long and empty years. Not only for Isak but for those close to him whom he more or less also lost contact with. Isak,in both his dreams and memories, is seen as a man who is unable to show any real feelings for those around and close to him in the fear of either being rejected as well as showing himself to be hurt by their negative responses.
This defect in Isak personality has cost him the love of his life Sara when he was a young man who rejected him for his handsome and openly aggressive older brother Sigfried. We also see that Isak's marriage to his wife, who had long since passed away, Karin was anything but happy with her disgusted with his inability to show her any real feelings and emotions as a husband. Were also shown, in one of Isak's dreams, that she had an affair with another man Ake Fridell, who was anything but passive with her like her husband Isak was, some 40 years ago behind his back. That may have possibly resulted in the birth of his only child his son, who's also a doctor, Evald Marriane's husband.
Seeing his 96 year-old mother on his way to Lund we see in her the same human defect that he has in that all of her ten children, who with the exception of Isak are now deceased, never bothered to visit her in her old age. The only time that they had anything to do with her was when they wanted money from the old lady. This coldness and inability to have any attachment to her children is shown not only in both Isak and his mother but in his son Evald who's so disgusted with life and what it had to offer him, like a beautiful and caring wife like Marianne. Evald threatened to walk out on Marianne when after he found out of her being pregnant, I guess by him, she refused his demand of her getting an abortion.
Isak is helped on his long trip to Lund not only by Marianne but a number of people they meet and in some cases give a ride along the way. This included a young girl and two of her friend going on a trip to Italy ironically named Sara, a virtual twin of the Sara that he loved and lost as a young man. Later Sara together with Anders and Victor who later as a singing group serenade a surprised and grateful, to the point of tears, Isak after he received his award. Meeting among others along the way to far flung Lund a bickering couple Mr. & Mrs. Alman, who almost had Isak and his passengers killed in a head-on car crash. Isak also met a gas station attendant, Henrik, who was so impressed and grateful by what he did for him and his wife in the past , delivered their first child, that he refused to get paid for filling up Isak's gas-tank.
By the time Isak got to Lund and received his lifetime achievement award to the attendance and cheering of the entire town he not only realized all the good that he did as a man of medicine all these years but also all the hurt that he gave to others, if unintentional. With the little time that he has left, Isak was to pass away three years later at the age of 81, Isak is determined to make up for it.
Sweet touching yet simple little film about one man's journey back in time who sees how he missed out on the many wonderful things that life had to offer him by being blind to them. Now given a second chance Isak would try as best as he can to both re-live and at the same time correct his past mistakes.
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