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The Virgin Spring (1960) More at IMDbPro »Jungfrukällan (original title)

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1 item from 2007

Ingmar Bergman: 1918-2007

30 July 2007 | IMDb News

Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish director considered one of the most influential and acclaimed filmmakers of modern cinema, died at his home in Faro, Sweden, on Monday; he was 89. The death was announced by the Swedish news agency TT and confirmed by Bergman's daughter, Eva, and Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, though an official cause of death was not yet given. Nominated for nine Academy Awards throughout his career and honored with the Irving G. Thalberg award in 1971, Bergman was cited as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, with his bleak, unsparing yet highly emotional explorations of the human psyche and its relation to life, sex, and death, in both highly symbolic and intensely personal films; he most notably influenced Woody Allen, who considered him the greatest of filmmakers. His images ranged from the stark black-and-white of films like The Seventh Seal to those awash in dreadful reds such as Cries and Whispers and the holiday warmth of Fanny and Alexander, his last film for the cinema. Born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1918, Bergman was the son of a Lutheran minister, and religious imagery as well as the tumultuous relationship between his parents would pervade his work. Though growing up in an extremely strict and devout family, Bergman lost his faith at an early age and grappled with the concept of the existence of God in many of his early films. Bergman discovered the magic of imagery at the age of nine with a magic lantern, for which he would create his own characters and scenery, and this love of light and images brought him to the theater world after a brief stint at the University of Stockholm. Bergman worked in both theater and film throughout the 1940s, as part of the script department of Svensk Filmindustri and as a director and producer for numerous small theater companies. His first script to be produced was the 1944 film Torment, and began as a director with small movies that allowed him to hone his craft; among his notable earlier works were Prison, Summer Interlude, and Sawdust and Tinsel.

Bergman came to the fore of the international cinematic community with the 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night, his classic melancholy comedy about the romantic entanglements of three 19th century couples during a weekend at a country estate. The film propelled him to stardom and won him a a Cannes Film Festival award for "Best Poetic Humor" (it was also later adapted by Stephen Sondheim into the musical A Little Night Music). He established his legacy and reputation with his next two films: The Seventh Seal, featuring the now-iconic imagery of Death playing chess with a tortured medieval knight (Max Von Sydow), and Wild Strawberries, the study of an aged professor (played by Victor Sjostrom) revisiting his youth and his darkest fears as he drives through the Swedish countryside. Both films were phenomenal critical and box office successes, with Wild Strawberries earning Bergman his first Oscar nomination, for Best Screenplay. Bergman's The Virgin Spring, the grim fable about two parents exacting revenge on their daughter's murderers, won the Best Foreign Language film Oscar in 1961. He followed up that film with a trilogy of films -- Through a Glass Darkly (another Foreign Language Film Oscar winner), Winter Light and The Silence -- in which he grappled most powerfully with his lack of faith and belief in the power of love.

Making as many failures as he did successes, Bergman found favor with a number of films throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including the now-famous Persona, Hour of the Wolf, The Passion of Anna, Cries and Whispers (a nominee for Best Picture), Scenes from a Marriage, The Magic Flute, and Autumn Sonata. Throughout his films he used an ensemble of actors, most notably Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman, with whom he had a personal relationship and a child. He also almost always worked with the legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who won two Oscars for Cries and Whispers and 1982's Fanny and Alexander. It was that latter film that Bergman declared to be his final cinematic work, an intimate portrait of brother and sister set in early 20th century Sweden that was originally conceived as a four part TV film, and was released in the US at a truncated 188 minutes. It won four Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film. Though he officially "retired" from the film industry after Fanny and Alexander, Bergman made films for Swedish television, continued to direct theatrically (including a version of Hamlet in Swedish that traveled to the US) and wrote screenplays that were filmed by other directors, including Bille August, Bergman's son Daniel, and actress and former lover Liv Ullman. His last work as director was Saraband, a revisitation of the two lead characters (Ullman and Jospehson) from Scenes from a Marriage. Bergman was married five times, and his fifth wife, Ingrid von Rosen, passed away in 1995. He is survived by nine children from his past marriages and relationships. At press time, a funeral date had not yet been set. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff


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