Bergman, Ingmar 1918–2007
Bergman, Ingmar 1918–2007
(Ernst Ingmar Bergman, Buntel Eriksson, Ernest Riffle)
See index for CA sketch: Born July 14, 1918, in Uppsala, Sweden; died July 30, 2007, on the island of Fårö, Sweden. Film director, screenwriter, stage director, playwright, and author. Bergman is regarded as one of the world's greatest filmmakers, having directed and scripted dozens of award-winning movies. His admirers tend to describe him as "respected," rather than "beloved," however, and report "appreciating" his films, rather than "enjoying" them. Bergman's work was not considered light fare. He tackled the monumental themes of man's relationship with God, the relationships of men and women, the torment of mental illness, and the innate character of the artist. Several of his early films fall into the first category and are generally described as dark, gloomy, and pessimistic—rejections of the existence of a loving, caring God and an outgrowth of his childhood as the son of a strict, even abusive minister. Among such films was one of his most popular, The Seventh Seal (1956), in which a medieval knight plays chess with the Devil against a background of the Black Death. Other films, such as Scenes from a Marriage (1973), deal with male-female relationships, and Bergman was often praised for his strong and independent female characters. One of his later and most popular films was originally produced for television: Fanny and Alexander (1981) is a long film about two children growing up in Sweden in the early 1900s. Some critics have claimed that it blends all of Bergman's themes into a single work of art and treats them with a gentler hand than his earlier anguished efforts. His last film was Saraband, broadcast on Swedish television in 2003. Bergman was affiliated with the Svensk Filmindustri for nearly thirty years; he established his own film companies, Cinematograph in Sweden, in 1968, and Personafilm in West Germany, in 1977. Less well known, especially to English-speaking audiences, is Bergman's work as a stage director and playwright, and occasional novelist and nonfiction author, sometimes under pseudonyms. He was, according to some reports, even more actively involved in the theater than the film industry, directing several stage plays each year and writing some of them. He directed the Civic Theater in Malmö, Sweden, in the 1950s, and operated the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm in the 1960s. Bergman won most of the awards available to a film director and screenwriter, including the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and four Academy Awards from the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (one Academy Award was for Fanny and Alexander). In 2003, he received the Film Preservation Award of the International Federation of Film Archives. Bergman spent his last days on the isolated island of Fårö, off the southeastern coast of Sweden, where he said that he felt most comfortable and secure.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Bergman, Ingmar, The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Bergman, Ingmar, Images: My Life in Film, Arcade (New York, NY), 1994.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 257: Twentieth-Century Swedish Writers after World War II, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Chicago Tribune, July 31, 2007, sec. 3, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2007, pp. A1, A6-A7.
New York Times, July 31, 2007, pp. A1, A20.
Times (London, England), July 31, 2007, p. 55.