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2.2. Unit Two. “Encountering directors”

TASK 1. Read Bergman’s biography and answer the questions after it.

Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden, on July 17, 1918. His father was a conservative parish minister with strict parenting concepts. Ingmar was locked up in dark closets for such “crimes” as wetting the bed. "While father preached away in the pulpit “, Ingmar wrote in his autobiography , "I devoted my interest to the church’s mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and walls. There was everything that one’s imagination could desire — angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans."

At the age of 9, he got a set of tin soldiers, the possession that altered the course of his life. He had created, by playing with this toy, a private world in which he felt completely at home. He made up his own scenery, marionettes and lighting effects and gave puppet productions of plays in which he spoke all the parts.

In 1937, he entered Stockholm University College , to study art and literature. He spent most of his time involved in student theatre and became a "genuine movie addict". Although he did not graduate, he wrote a number of plays, as well as an opera, and became an assistant director at a theater.

Bergman's film career began in 1941 with his rewriting of scripts, but his first major accomplishment was in 1944 when he wrote the screenplay for the film Torment. The international success of this film led to Bergman's first opportunity to direct a year later. During the next ten years, he wrote and directed more than a dozen films.

Bergman first achieved worldwide success with Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), which won for "Best poetic humor". This was followed by The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, released in Sweden in 1957. These two films won numerous awards for Bergman.

On 30 January 1976, he was arrested and charged with income-tax evasion. The impact of the event on Bergman was devastating. He suffered a nervous break-down as a result of the humiliation and was hospitalized in a state of deep depression.

Even though the charges were dropped, Bergman was for a while disconsolate, fearing he would never again return to directing. Despite pleas by the Swedish high public figures, and leaders of the film industry, he vowed never to work again in Sweden. He closed down his studio and went into self-imposed exile in Munich, Germany.

In 1982, he temporarily returned to his homeland to direct Fanny and Alexander, a film that, unlike his previous productions, was aimed at a broader audience, but was also criticized for being shallow and commercial. Bergman stated that the film would be his last, and that afterwards he would focus on directing theatre.

Bergman was married five times: the first four marriages ended in divorce, while the last ended when his wife died. Bergman had nine children that he acknowledged to be his own. He was married to all but one mothers of his children.

Bergman died peacefully in his sleep at his home on 30 July 2007, at the age of 89, the same day that an other renowned film director, Michaelangelo Antonioni, also died.

Bergman's films usually deal with existential question of mortality, loneliness, and religious faith.

Many film-makers have praised Bergman and cited his work as a major influence on their own:

Woody Allen: "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera". Allen's films contain many echoes of Bergman's.

Krzysztof Kieslowski "This man is one of the few film directors – perhaps the only one in the world – to have said as much about human nature as Dostoevsky or Camus."

  1. Compare Bergman’s biography with the preface to the lesson. Which important things about Bergman’s life, in your opinion, should have been included in the preface?

  2. If you were to give a short version of Bergman/s biography, what would it be like? Try and write down the summary of it in about 50 words.

  3. What is your general impression concerning Bergman’s life? Do you think he was happy with his life and creative activity? Explain your point of view

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