Ernst Ingmar Bergman ([ˈɪŋmar ˈbærjman]  ( listen); 14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007) was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. His influential body of work often dealt with themes such as bleakness and despair, as well as comedy and hope, in his cinematic exploration of the human condition. Described by Woody Allen as “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera”, he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential film-makers of modern cinema.[1]

He directed sixty-two films, most of which he also wrote, and directed over one hundred and seventy plays. Among his company of actors were Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. Most of his films were set in the landscape of Sweden, his major themes being death, illness, betrayal and insanity.

Bergman was active for more than six decades, but his career was seriously threatened in 1976 when he suspended a number of pending productions, closed his studios, and went into self-imposed exile in Germany for eight years following a botched criminal investigation for alleged income tax evasion.

[edit] Film work

Bergman’s film career began in 1941 with his rewriting of scripts, but his first major accomplishment was in 1944 when he wrote the screenplay for Torment/Frenzy (Hets), a film directed by Alf Sjöberg. Along with writing the screenplay, he was also given position as assistant director to the film. In his second autobiographical work Images: My Life in Film, Bergman describes the filming of the exteriors as his actual film directorial debut.[8] The international success of this film led to Bergman’s first opportunity to direct a year later. During the next ten years, he wrote and directed more than a dozen films including The Devil’s Wanton/Prison (Fängelse) in 1949 and The Naked Night/Sawdust and Tinsel (Gycklarnas afton) and Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika), both from 1953.

Bergman first achieved worldwide success with Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) (1955), which won for “Best poetic humor” and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes the following year. This was followed by The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet) and Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället), released in Sweden ten months apart in 1957. The Seventh Seal won a special jury prize and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and Wild Strawberries won numerous awards for Bergman and its star, Victor Sjöström.

Bergman continued to be productive for the next two decades. From the early 1960s, Bergman lived much of his life on the island of Fårö, Gotland, Sweden, where he made several of his films.

In the early 1960s he directed a trilogy that explored the theme of faith and doubt in God, Through a Glass Darkly (Såsom i en Spegel – 1961), Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna – 1962), and The Silence (Tystnaden – 1963). In 1966, he directed Persona, a film that he himself considered one of his most important works. While the shockingly experimental film won few awards many consider it his masterpiece. Other notable films of the period include The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukällan – 1960), Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen – 1968), Shame (Skammen – 1968) and A Passion/The Passion of Anna (En Passion – 1969). Bergman also produced extensively for Swedish television at this time. Two works of note were Scenes from a Marriage (Scener ur ett äktenskap – 1973) and The Magic Flute (Trollflöjten – 1975).

After his arrest in 1976 for tax evasion, Bergman swore he would never again make films in Sweden. He shut his film studio on the island of Fårö down and went into exile. He briefly considered the possibility of working in America and his next film, The Serpent’s Egg (1977) was a German-U.S. production and his second English-language film (the first being 1971’s “The Touch“). This was followed a year later with a British-Norwegian coproduction of Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten – 1978). The film starred Ingrid Bergman and was the one notable film of this period. The one other film he directed was From the Life of the Marionettes (Aus dem Leben der Marionetten – 1980) a British-German coproduction.

In 1982, he temporarily returned to his homeland to direct Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander), a film that, unlike his previous productions, was aimed at a broader audience, but was also criticized within the profession for being shallow and commercial.[9] Bergman stated that the film would be his last, and that afterwards he would focus on directing theatre. Since then, he wrote several film scripts and directed a number of television specials. As with previous work for TV some of these productions were later released in theatres. The last such work was Saraband (2003), a sequel to Scenes from a Marriage and directed by Bergman when he was eighty-four years old.

[edit] Repertory company

Bergman developed a personal “repertory company” of Swedish actors whom he repeatedly cast in his films, including Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin, and Gunnar Björnstrand, each of whom appeared in at least five Bergman features. Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann, who appeared in nine of Bergman’s films and one televisual movie (Saraband), was the last to join this group (in the 1966 film Persona), and ultimately became most closely associated with Bergman, both artistically and personally. They had a daughter together, Linn Ullmann (b. 1966).

Ingmar Bergman with his long time cinematographer Sven Nykvist during the production of Through a Glass Darkly (1960)

A great number of Bergman’s interior scenes were filmed at the Filmstaden studios north of Stockholm.

Bergman began working with Sven Nykvist, his cinematographer, in 1953. The two of them developed and maintained a working relationship of sufficient rapport to allow Bergman not to worry about the composition of a shot until the day before it was filmed. On the morning of the shoot, he would briefly speak to Nykvist about the mood and composition he hoped for, and then leave Nykvist to work lacking interruption or comment until postproduction discussion of the next day’s work.

[edit] Financing

By Bergman’s own account, he never had a problem with funding. He cited two reasons for this: one, that he did not live in the United States, which he viewed as obsessed with box-office earnings; and two, that his films tended to be low-budget affairs.[citation needed] (Cries and Whispers, for instance, was finished for about $450,000, while Scenes from a Marriage — a six-episode television feature — cost only $200,000.)[citation needed]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingmar_bergman

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