Ingmar Bergman on the set of Saraband Picture copyright Sony Pictures Classics
"No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul."
So said Ingmar Bergman, one of cinema's greatest ever directors, who died this week at the age of 89. Born in the Swedish town of Uppsala in 1918, Bergman was the son of a strict Lutheran minister who forbade him to go to the cinema, but his grandmother took him there in secret and he was awed by the experience. He lost his religious faith at an early age, and this and his conflicts with his father would develop into themes which ran through many of his later works - but he never lost his faith in the power of cinema to inspire, inform, and bring out the good in people.
Bergman's brilliant career began modestly, when he managed a puppet theatre with performances put on by his sister and their friends. He started writing in his early twenties and enjoyed a lucky break when his play Kasper's Död caught the attention of a film company executive. This led to a contract for the adaptation of his unpublished novel, Hets, into a film directed by Alf Sjöberg; and when Sjöberg was delayed by other work, Bergman stepped in to complete the job. He went on to direct another 62 films, including classics Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring, Saraband and Through A Glass, Darkly. Ironically, his most famous work, The Seventh Seal, has just been re-released in the UK. Bergman's own favourite amongst his works was 1962's Winter Light, which he felt was the only one in which he had managed to get everything just the way he intended. He was unable to continue directing during the last few years of his life, but went on working as a writer, producing scripts for film and television. He also maintained his connections with the theatre, the other place where he had enjoyed working as a director.
Bergman died peacefully at his home in Fårö, Sweden, early on Monday morning.