The great film director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) has died at the age of 89.
Legendary Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman has died peacefully at 89. He passed away at his home on the small Baltic islet of Faro, according to his daughter Eva Bergman.
Bergman, whose 1982 film "Fanny and Alexander" won an Oscar for best foreign film, made about 60 movies before retiring from film making in 2003.
In his films, Bergman's vision encompassed all the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom of unending winter nights, the gentle merriment of glowing summer evenings and the bleak magnificence of the island where he spent his last years.
Bergman, who approached difficult subjects such as plague and madness with inventive technique and carefully honed writing, became one of the towering figures of serious filmmaking.
He was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera," Woody Allen said in a 70th birthday tribute in 1988.
Bergman first gained international attention with 1955's "Smiles of a Summer Night," a romantic comedy that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music."
His last work was "Saraband," a made-for-television movie that aired on Swedish public television in December 2003.
When it aired, nearly a million Swedes - or one in nine - watched the family drama, which was based on the two main characters from his previous TV series, "Scenes From a Marriage."
The show starred Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson - two of Bergman's favorite actors - who reprised their roles from "Scenes From a Marriage," which was edited and released as a feature film in 1974.
But it was "The Seventh Seal," released two years later, that riveted critics and audiences. An allegorical tale of the medieval Black Plague years, it contains one of cinema's most famous scenes - a knight playing chess with the shrouded figure of Death.
"I was terribly scared of death," Bergman said of his state of mind when making the 1957 film, which was nominated for an Academy Award in the best picture category.
The film distilled the essence of Bergman's work - high seriousness, flashes of unexpected humor and striking images.
In an interview in 2004 with Swedish broadcaster SVT, the reclusive filmmaker admitted that he was reluctant to view his work.
"I don't watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry ... and miserable. I think it's awful," Bergman said.
Though best known internationally for his films, Bergman was also a prominent stage director. He worked at several playhouses in Sweden from the mid-1940s, including the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm which he headed from 1963 to 1966.
He staged many plays by the Swedish author August Strindberg, whom he cited as an inspiration.
source: agencies, Wikipedia