Ingmar Bergman, Swedish director, Died at 89

Ernst Ingmar Bergman died on the 30th of July 2007 at the age of 89; he was a Swedish director, writer and producer who worked in film, television, and theatre.

Born in Uppsala, Sweden on the 14th of July 1918, the son of Erik Bergman, a Lutheran minister and later chaplain to the King of Sweden, and Karin (née Åkerblom), a nurse who also had Walloon ancestors.

He grew up with his older brother Dag and sister Margareta surrounded by religious imagery and discussion.

His father was a conservative parish minister with strict parenting concepts.

He directed over sixty films and documentaries for cinematic release and for television, most of which he also wrote.

He also directed over 170 plays.

From 1953, he forged a powerful creative partnership with his full-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist.

Among his company of actors were Harriet and Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Gunnar Björnstrand, Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin and Max von Sydow.

In 1937, he entered Stockholm University College (later renamed Stockholm University), to study art and literature.

He spent most of his time involved in student theatre and became a “genuine movie addict”.

At the same time, a romantic involvement led to a break with his father that lasted for years.

Although he did not graduate, he wrote a number of plays, as well as an opera, and became an assistant director at a theatre.

Although Bergman was universally famous for his contribution to cinema, he was also an active and productive stage director all his life.

During his studies at Stockholm University, he became active in its student theatre, where he made a name for himself early on.

His first work after graduation was as a trainee-director at a Stockholm theatre.

At twenty-six years, he became the youngest theatrical manager in Europe at the Helsingborg City Theatre.

He stayed at Helsingborg for three years and then became the director at Gothenburg city theatre from 1946 to 1949.

Bergman first achieved worldwide success with Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) (1955), which won for “Best poetic humour” 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, he spent much of his life on the Swedish island of Fårö, where he made several films.

In 1976 he had a famous tax problem.

Bergman had trusted other people to advise him on his finances, but it turned out to be very bad advice.

Bergman had to leave the country immediately, and so went to Germany.

A few years later he returned to Sweden and made his last theatrical film Fanny and Alexander (1982) (A.K.A. ‘Fanny and Alexander’).

In later life he retired from movie directing, but still wrote scripts for film and T.V. and directed plays at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre for many years.