Bergman, Ingmar

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bergman, Ingmar

Ingmar Bergman (Ernst Ingmar Bergman) (ĕrnst Ĭng´mär bĕr´yəmän), 1918–2007, Swedish film and stage writer, director, and producer. Acclaimed by many as the greatest director of the second half of the 20th cent., Bergman made about 60 films in all. He achieved an impressive degree of freedom early in his career and used it to create and develop a highly individual approach. Working with many of the same actors and technicians from film to film, his work, usually profoundly serious in theme and treatment, is filled with arresting images and displays an unusual degree of unity and continuity. Bergman made his first film in 1945 and reached his creative zenith as a director in the 1950s and 60s. His 50s films include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), and The Magician (1958). In the 60s he made The Virgin Spring (1960, Academy Award) and two trilogies that charted his growing disillusion with humanity's search for God. The first trilogy consists of Through a Glass Darkly (1961, Academy Award), Winter Light (1962), and The Silence (1963); the second of Persona (1965), Hour of the Wolf (1968), and Shame (1968).

In the 1970s Bergman mainly focused his work on domestic issues, dramatized through traumatic, usually unworkable personal relationships, as in the harrowing Cries and Whispers (1972), the stormy Scenes from a Marriage (1974), and the psychological family drama Autumn Sonata (1978). Bergman briefly exiled himself from Sweden after a dispute (1976) with tax authorities, but returned to make his self-proclaimed final, and surprisingly optimistic, semiautobiographical film about family and childhood, Fanny and Alexander (1982, Academy Award).

Having successfully written and directed numerous works for the Swedish theater since the 1950s, he continued to work in theater, television, and opera late in his career. He also wrote autobiographical screenplays adapted from his earlier novels for the films The Best Intentions (1992), directed by Bille August; Sunday's Children (1993), directed by his son, Daniel Bergman; and Private Confessions (1998) directed by Liv Ullmann, who also directed Bergman's Faithless (2000). He also directed a number of classic plays for the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden, e.g., Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata (2001). His made-for-television drama Saraband (2003), a bleak epilogue to Scenes from a Marriage, was Bergman's final statement on film.

See his autobiographies (1987, 1994); Four Screenplays of Ingmar Bergman (tr. 1960); S. Björkman, T. Manns, and J. Sima, Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman (1973, tr. 1975, repr. 1993); biographies by B. Steene (1967) and P. Cowie (upd. ed. 1992); studies by V. Young (1971), F. Marker and L.-L. Marker (1982, repr. 1992), F. Gado (1986), R. E. Long (1994), R. W. Oliver, ed. (1995), J. Vermilye (1998), J. Kalin (2003), L. Hubner (2007), and I. Singer (2007); M. Nyrerod, dir. Bergman Island (documentary film, 2006).

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