Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007)

Ingmar Bergman, one of the great filmmakers of the 20th century passed away today at his home in Sweden. His work influenced many contemporary filmmakers including Woody Allen who described Bergman as “probably the greatest film artist … since the invention of the motion picture camera.” Many of his films [IMDB info] dealt with existentialism, faith and death.

His earliest memories, he [Bergman] once said, were of light and death: “I remember how the sunlight hit the edge of my dish when I was eating spinach and, by moving the dish slightly from side to side, I was able to make different figures out of the light. I also remember sitting with my brother, in the backyard of my flat, aiming with slingshots at enormous black rats scurrying around. And I also remember being forced to sit in church, listening to a very boring sermon, but it was a very beautiful church, and I loved the music and the light streaming through the windows. I used to sit up in the loft beside the organ, and when there were funerals, I had this marvelous long-shot view of the proceedings, with the coffin and the black drapes, and then later at the graveyard, watching the coffin lowered into the ground. I was never frightened by these sights. I was fascinated.” [Excerpt from the NY Times article by Mervyn Rothstein]

One of his most famous films, The Seventh Seal [IMDB info] characterized the image of Death as a white-faced grim reaper man in a dark cape. This image has been the object of parody in some good films (Woody Allen’s Love and Death [IMDB Info], Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life [IMDB Info]) and bad films (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey [IMDB Info], Last Action Hero [IMDB Info]). Here’s a clip from The Seventh Seal

[youtube Vyqg017aFrY nolink]

Related Links:

Ingmar Bergman’s official site
Wikipedia Bio