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Retrospective of Legendary Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman
by Birgit Schrumpf

The Retrospective Section of the Berlin International Film Festival honoured Swedish director Ingmar Bergmann, who died in 2007. The cinematic oeuvre of this legendary filmmaker includes more than 60 works. In his films he explored life’s existential questions, taking a fresh look at the bourgeois society. The many facets of human behaviour fascinated him, especially bringing out the “dark” side of his protagonists. He became world-famous with films like Summer with Monika (1952/53), The Seventh Seal (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Silence (1962/63), Persona (1965/66), Scenes of a Marriage (1972/73 - Golden Globe 1974). For his film Fanny and Alexander (1981/82) he received four Oscars. At the Berlinale 1958 he won the Golden Bear for Wild Strawberries (1957).

Ingmar Bergman became internationally known with his films but throughout his life was also an active stage director. At twenty-six years he was Europe’s youngest theatrical manager in Helsingborg. After three years he moved to Gothenburg and on to Malmö City Theatre in 1953 where he worked for seven years. Many of his film actors he “discovered” during those years at the theatre (Harriet Andersson, Max von Sydow). From 1960 he was director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm and their manager until 1966. Continuity was important for him and he liked to gather “his troupe” around him. Cameraman Sven Nykvist started his first film with Bergman in 1953 and another twenty followed. Liv Ulman played the lead in nine of his films during the 1960s and 1970s. Harriet Andersson met Bergman at the Malmö theatre in the 1950s and appeared in a number of his best-known films, including Through a Glass Darkly (with Max von Sydow and Gunnar Björnstrand) and continued working with him into the 1980s.

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born the son of a priest on July 14, 1918, in Uppsala, Sweden. He studied literature at the University of Stockholm but soon joined a theatre group. Trade marks in many of his films were: slow and intensive close-ups of faces, close-ups of ticking clocks, the dynamic use of shadows. After an unpleasant tax evasion incident he left Sweden for Germany and took the post as director of the Residenz Theater Munich (1977-84). He retired from filmmaking in 1984 and only in 2003 – at the age of 85 – did he retire as stage director. His final production was The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in 2002.

Ingmar Bergman was married five times but, in addition, had year-long romantic relationships with Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman. He has nine children. On July 30, 2007, at the age of 89 Ingmar Bergman died on the remote little island of Farö on the west coast of Sweden.

“Ingmar Bergman’s versatility is just as extraordinary as his courage to break social taboos,” says Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick. “unlike almost any other filmmaker, he shows how conflicted modern man feels towards life. Ingmar Bergman’s films are part of the Berlinale history and I am delighted the Retrospective will be honouring this great filmmaker.”