Ingmar Bergman – Grand Wizard Of Modern Cinema

July 14, 1918 – July 30, 2007


Ingmar Bergman - Poster1

Ingmar Bergman, one of the most prolific stage and film screenwriters/directors of all time, was reported to have died at 89, on July 30th, 2007, at his home on the island of Faro, Sweden.

Born in Uppsala, Sweden on July 14, 1918, the son of a Lutheran Minister of the Royal Court of Sweden, his roots in religion became one of the main subjects he explored in his films. Depicting the struggle of religiousness with conscience, sin, guilt, denial, sex, intimacy, often becoming the subject to his own exploration as he often brought the audience literally face to face with his inner autobiographical nature, forcing them to explore their own, using imagery, flashbacks and self-judgments to portray sensitive and penetrating subjects so intense that when one left the theater after his films, being in an emotional catharsis is an understatement.

One of the world’s most influential directors, he won three Academy Awards in the Foreign Language Film category for The Virgin Spring, Through A Glass Darkly, and Fanny And Alexander, his last film. He also won the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award presented at the 1971 Academy Awards, although he never won an Oscar as Best Director.

Cries and Whispers - posterHis work has impacted generations of filmmakers from all countries, including American directors as varied as Martin Scorscese and Woody Allen. He was considered the last of the great directors of classic foreign film from the latter part of the twentieth century that included Federico Fellini of Italy and Akira Kurosawa of Japan. He leaves 9 children from five marriages including a daughter, Linn, from his relationship with actress Liv Ullman.

His films were often acutely biographical (Wild Strawberries among others), filled with psychological and surrealistic dream imagery and death (the seventh seal), often exploring the inner-self and the human existence, using neurosis and psychosis (persona) by focusing on the painful exploration of love, loneliness, anguish, torment, reality, metaphysics and God. All subjects that motivate the soul to question its very purpose, substance and nature.

He usually worked with an ensemble cast which included Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Erland Josephson, Gunnar Bjomstrand and Liv Ullman. In Scenes From A Marriage (1973), with his protégé Liv Ullman, he explored the nature of human relationships to an exquisite degree, often depicting his own life and failed relationships on screen.

Autumn Sonata - posterIn 1978, he wrote and directed Autumn Sonata, starring Liv Ullman and Ingrid Bergman (no relation) in her last film role before her death. It told the story of a famous concert pianist who was confronted by her neglected daughter. This was an echo of Ingrid Bergman’s real life struggle when she abandoned her daughter, Pia Linstrom, as a young child and ran off with Italian director Roberto Rossellilni.

In his final film, Fanny And Alexander (1982), he reflected on the pageantry of his youth through the eyes of a child. He said at the time it would be his last film. It went on to win 4 Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Film. His last work was directing Saraband (2003), starring Ullman and Josephson, which was made for Swedish TV. He retired to his home until his death on July 30th.

One of his greatest impacts on the western world was to introduce Americans to foreign language cinema and being able to fill movie theaters with people who hadn’t previously considered seeing films that were not made in English or dubbed. Ingmar Bergman will probably be remembered as one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest and most influential artists.