DIRECTOR PROFILE: Ingmar Bergman

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Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007)

Born: July 14, 1918 Uppsala, Sweden

Genres: Period Films, Drama, Psychological, Marriage

Academy Awards: None. Nine Nominations.

Must See: Persona (1966), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Fanny and Alexander (1982), The Passion of Anna (1969)

Recommended: Scenes from a Marriage (1973), The Virgin Spring (1960), Saraband (2003), Cries and Whispers (1972), Hour of the Wolf (1968), The Silence (1963)

Ingmar Bergman was a shining light during the European Golden Age of cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. He remains one of the most well known and studied directors in history. His films have influenced many of today’s great young filmmakers most notably Woody Allen. After his death in 2007, many people hailed him as one of the great artists of the 20th century. Aside from film, Bergman was also well established on stage.

Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden on July 14, 1918. His father, Erik Bergman was a Lutheran Minister and later chaplain to the King of Sweden. Ingmar’s relationship with his father, as well as his parent’s marriage is believed to have influenced him tremendously in his writing. It is a widely held belief that Ingmar’s agnostic religious beliefs and trepidation on such things as marriage and family are due to his father’s strict discipline and emotional detachment.

In Fanny and Alexander (1982), the character of Bishop Edvard Vergerus, played by Jan Malmsjo is believed to be based on Bergman’s father. Notwithstanding, Bergman often depicted marriage as turbulent and unfulfilling. His 1973 film, Scenes from a Marriage starring Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, chronicles the breakdowns, infidelities, reconciliations and ultimately failures of the central character’s marriage.

Bergman also addresses marriage in Fanny and Alexander, The Passion of Anna, Hour of the Wolf and most importantly Saraband, which is considered a sequel to Scenes of a Marriage. A reoccurring theme in many of these films is that love alone is not sufficed to maintain a healthy relationship. Desire and jealousy are inherent in individuals he argues and marriage is more a struggle than a sacred bond.

As a long time agnostic, Bergman was obsessed with exploring the existence of God. In many of his films religion is depicted more as a tyranny, as previously mentioned in Fanny and Alexander. But for the most part, Bergman viewed religious faith as failing to resolve the needs of society. In one of his most famous films, The Seventh Seal (1957), God is noticeably absent as the Black Death ravages Medieval Sweden.

The absence of God is an important theme in many of his films. For example, in Through a Glass Darkly (1961), a young girl Karin played by Harriet Anderson suffers from a mental illness compounded by the desire to communicate with her father. Bergman touches on psychology throughout many of his films as well, often with a Freudian bend. His films would heavily influence Woody Allen as highly intellectual surveys on the human condition.

Ingmar Bergman’s career was both prolific and diverse. The characters he created were as flawed and conflicted as he was as an individual. His films always had a very human element to them. Bergman died on July 30th, 2007 on the island of Faro in Sweden

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