Ingmar Bergman

(1918—2007) Swedish film and theatre director

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Swedish film and theatre director.

An early interest in drama, which he actively pursued while studying literature and art at the University of Stockholm, led Bergman into becoming a trainee director at a Stockholm theatre.

Bergman began his film career as a scriptwriter in 1941. His complete script Frenzy (1944) won considerable praise and led to his debut as a director the following year. He directed a long string of highly successful films. His upbringing in a religious household (his father was a Lutheran pastor and chaplain to the Swedish royal family) undoubtedly fostered his preoccupation with such religious themes as God, the Devil, death, and purity, which dominate his highly psychologically and philosophically charged work.

Early films included Prison (1949), which was directed by Bergman and was drawn from his own script, and Thirst (1949). It was, however, the last of his summer films, Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), that won the Cannes Film Festival Award and brought him international fame. His earlier summer films were Summer Interlude (1950) and Summer with Monika (1952). The Seventh Seal (1956) won the Grand Prix and Wild Strawberries (1957) established him as a master of the cinema. Important films that followed included Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Autumn Sonata (1978), and Fanny and Alexander (1983). He retired from film making in the 1980s but continued to write screenplays, including The Best Intentions (1992). His stage productions include Hamlet (1986) and Miss Julie (1987) at the National Theatre in London.

Charges of tax fraud, later withdrawn, resulted in a period of self-imposed exile during the seventies. In 1978 he returned to Sweden and resumed his work as director at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre. To honour him, the Swedish Film Institute established the Ingmar Bergman Annual Prize for excellence in film-making. His publications include the autobiography The Magic Lantern (1988).

Subjects: Theatre.

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