Master Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman Dies at Age 89
Bergman is credited with making more than 50 films during the 1950s through the 1980s, including “Wild Strawberries,” “The Seventh Seal,” and Academy Award winners “The Virgin Spring,” (1960) “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961) and “Fanny and Alexander” (1982).
Born July 14, 1918 in Uppsala, Sweden, Bergman culled a cinematic sensibility early in life, finding mystery in what surrounded him. His 1988 autobiography, “The Magic Lantern,” took its title from his childhood toy projector.
The son of a Lutheran clergyman, Bergman’s imagination was dominated by the church. “There was everything that one’s imagination could desire-angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans,” he told the New York Times in 1995.
After a successful start in theater in the 1940s, Bergman first achieved acclaim for his writing in “Torment,” winner of the Grand Prix du Cinema at Cannes, directed by Alf Sjoberg. Critics generally agree that his first directed film of note was “Prison,” his sixth movie.
Bergman often used the same cast and crews for his films, including the Swedish cinematographers Gunnar Fischer and Sven Nykvist, who shot 22 of his films, and actress and his former lover, Liv Ullmann, who appeared in nine of his films.
His films dealt mostly with spiritual and interpersonal themes, tackling pain and death or the tumultuous relations between the sexes, with an emphasis on the power of memory.
After a hospital stay later in life, where he was briefly anaesthetized, Bergman claimed he lost his fear of death. “When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying. But now I think it a very, very wise arrangement,” he was quoted as saying.
Bergman often is grouped with influential directors Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini and Billy Wilder, and his films influenced contemporary directors such as Woody Allen, who once called him “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera,” reported the Associated Press.
A recipient of several international film awards, Bergman did not limit himself to film, especially later in life, when he worked as a stage director, and created operas, novels, plays and works for television.
Bergman had nine children and was married five times. His fifth wife, Ingrid Karlebo Bergman, died in 1995.