Bergman, Ernst Ingmar (July 14, 1918–July 30, 2007) By Humphrey, Daniel
Perhaps the exemplification of the European art-film director throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, Ingmar Bergman developed what would become an almost instantly recognizable aesthetic and catalogue of concerns – widely imitated, often satirized – in a theater and cinema career spanning seven decades. Born in Uppsala, Sweden, of parents in a troubled marriage, Bergman spent his childhood largely at the home of a beloved maternal grandmother. This served in part as an escape from his relationship with his cold chaplain father. Innumerable biographical events and familial dynamics dating to his childhood would eventually be found in thinly disguised dramatic form throughout Bergman’s oeuvre, which often involves sympathetically portrayed strong and intelligent women and harshly regarded male authority figures. This is particularly the case in his final theatrical motion picture, Fanny och Alexander (1982) (Fanny and Alexander).
Bergman initially came to the cinema from the Swedish theater, where he, like Orson Welles in the U.S. a decade earlier, managed to establish a formidable reputation by his mid-20s. Perhaps as a result of his work for the stage, which Bergman continued throughout the rest of his life, the acting in the director’s films is always particularly impressive; not surprisingly, his films are often set in the milieu of the performing arts, with performance and creative expression as recurrent themes.