Ingmar Bergman

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Ingmar Bergman
Ernst Ingmar Bergman
BirthplaceUppsala, Sweden
Film director, producer, screenwriter

Bergman, Ingmar

(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, directing 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. Bergman also wrote autobiographical screenplays for the films The Best Intentions (1992), directed by Bille August; Sunday's Children (1993), directed by his son, Daniel Bergman; and Private Confessions (1996, later staged as well) and Faithless (2000), directed by Liv UllmannUllmann, Liv,
1939–, Norwegian stage and film actress, b. Japan. She is best known for her roles in nine films directed by Ingmar Bergman, e.g., Persona (1966), Shame (1968), Cries and Whispers (1972), and Autumn Sonata (1978).
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See Four Screenplays of Ingmar Bergman (tr. 1960); S. Björkman et al., Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman (1973, tr. 1975, repr. 1993); his autobiographies (1987, 1994); 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); documentaries dir. by M. Nyrerod (2006) and M. Von Trotta (2018).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bergman, Ingmar


Born July 14, 1918, in Uppsala. Swedish theater and motion picture director.

In 1942, Bergman began to work in the theater; in 1943 he began to work in motion pictures, first as a scriptwriter, then as a director. He received wide recognition in the mid-1950’s. The films Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1956), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Face (1958), and The Virgin Spring (1959) pose moral and philosophic problems involving the tragic situation of man in the crisis and decline of spiritual values in bourgeois society.

Bergman is inclined toward a negative, pessimistic world view, but the theme of moral opposition to the forces of evil resounds in his films. The search for the meaning of life often has a religious aspect in Bergman’s films.

In the 1960’s, Bergman’s films took on a particularly somber coloring. The mournful theme of a man who has lost the real substance of human existence—love for people—runs through the trilogy Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), and The Silence (1963). The films Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), and Shame (1969) develop the theme of the disintegration of the human personality; apocalyptic motifs are intensified in these films.

The style of Bergman’s films is characterized by a combination of realism, allegory, and symbolism, by a poetic feeling for nature, by severity, by fluid portrayals, and at times by a propensity for expressionistic effects and accentuation of brutality. Many of Bergman’s films have been awarded prizes at international film festivals.


Béranger, J. Ingmar Bergman et ses films. Paris, 1959.
Ingmar Bergman. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.