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Famed Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman Leaves Iconic Legacy

Legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, who earned a reputation for stark and wrenching movies, died Monday at the age of 89. A film critic and movie historian discusses the artist's films and his impact on modern cinema.

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  • SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent:

    It is one of the most unforgettable scenes in the history of film, from director Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," made in Sweden in 1957.

    MAX VON SYDOW, "Antonius Block": Have you tricked me?

  • BENGT EKEROT, “Death”:

    That's right, I'm afraid I have. And now I say, "Check." What are you grinning at?


    Don't worry about that. Save your king instead.


    A game of chess between a knight — played by actor Max von Sydow — and the figure of Death, set amid a medieval plague.


    I realize you're very busy right now, but you must take time out for this unless you want to lose. Are you taking that couple through the forest tonight, the actors Jof and Mia, and their little boy?


    Why do you ask that?


    No reason.


    Bergman's films dealt with many-layered emotions and grand themes: love and evil; desire and pain; the relationship between God and man.

    Ernest Ingmar Bergman was born in Sweden in 1918, the child of a Lutheran clergyman and a mother whom Bergman would describe as alternately very warm and very cold. After a brief stint at university, Bergman soon left schooling for work in the theater and film. Over the ensuing half-century — and through nearly 60 works — Bergman established himself as one of the masters of cinema, winning multiple Academy Awards and dozens of other prizes.

    Among his most famous films was "Wild Strawberries," which premiered in 1957. It was a study of old age and mortality. In this scene, the movie's protagonist, Dr. Isak Borg, is haunted by the first of many nightmares that force him to confront his fears of impending death.

    One of his later and more-acclaimed films was the Oscar-winning "Fanny and Alexander," 1982, a study of family life in all its manic dysfunction.

    Ingmar Bergman celebrated his 89th birthday just weeks ago. He died today at his home on an island off the Swedish coast.

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