It is with great sadness that we learned today that Ingmar Bergman, widely regarded as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema and certainly one of Sweden’s most iconic figures, died today at the age of 89.
Born in the university town of Uppsala, to the north of Stockholm, Bergman began making his own movies at the age of six. These early works were made from a collage of film cuttings, and just a few years later Bergman was producing his own plays for puppet theatre.
Bergman went to university in Stockholm in 1937, and in 1942 was appointed to the Swedish National Opera following an acclaimed performance of Macbeth. The next few years saw him share his creative talents between stage and screen.
Bergman’s first film, Crisis, was made in 1945, but it was not until 1956, with the release of The Seventh Seal, that Bergman produced his most popular and critically-acclaimed work. This story of a knight who challenges Death to a game of chess has earned a place in cinematic legend. He went on to make a number of other films which displayed his characteristic intensity, including Wild Strawberries, The Magician, The Virgin Spring, and the ambitious trilogy of Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence.
Bergman’s career continued until 2001 with the release of Faithless, written by Bergman but directed by Liv Ullmann. Although Bergman was less active creatively in recent years and had perhaps his best works behind him, he is nevertheless remembered as one of the pivotal figures in cinema and an acknowledged influence on many of our most well-known modern directors, including Woody Allen.
And so, today Sweden has lost a hugely influential cultural figure and one of its most famous sons. He leaves behind a substantial creative legacy and Swedish film continues to be a thriving and vibrant industry through the works of such directors as Bille August (Smilla’s Sense of Snow, House of the Spirits) and Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape).
The Nature Travels Team