On this day in 1918, Ingmar Bergman, the writer, director and producer who made some 50 films during his career, including The Seventh Seal (1956), Wild Strawberries (1957) and Through a Glass Darkly (1961), is born in Uppsala, Sweden. Bergman’s work was often autobiographical and tackled dark topics such as death and betrayal. Considered one of the greatest directors in movie history, Bergman influenced many American filmmakers, notably Woody Allen.
Bergman grew up in a strict Lutheran family and would later explore the relationship between God and man in his work. He was involved in theater during his university days in Stockholm and made his big-screen debut with 1944’s Torment, for which he penned the screenplay. Bergman had his first international hit as a director with 1955’s Smiles of a Summer Night. The film was followed by some of his best-known work, including The Seventh Seal, a medieval morality tale starring Max Von Sydow as a knight; Wild Strawberries, about an elderly college professor looking back at his life; and The Virgin Spring (1959), about a medieval society transitioning to Christianity. The Virgin Spring won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In the 1960s, Bergman made two trilogies. The first included Through a Glass Darkly, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Winter Light (1962) and The Silence (1963), while the second trilogy consisted of Persona (1965), Hour of the Wolf (1968) and Shame (1968). Bergman’s work from the 1970s included the TV series-turned movie Scenes from a Marriage (1974), which chronicled the turmoil in one couple’s relationship. The film co-starred Liv Ullmann, a Norwegian actress who appeared in nine of Bergman’s films; off-screen, Ullmann and Bergman had a five-year relationship and were the parents of a daughter.
In 1976, Bergman was arrested for income tax evasion in Stockholm and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown. Although the charges against him were later dropped, he closed his film studio on the remote Swedish island of Faro and went into self-imposed exile in Germany. He later emerged to direct Fanny and Alexander (1982), which won four Oscars, including Best Foreign Film. Bergman also received nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. When he was in his 80s, he directed the television movie Saraband (2003), which was based on the main characters in Scenes from a Marriage. In addition to his film work, he directed plays, operas and television productions throughout his career. Bergman, who was married five times and had nine children, died at the age of 89 on July 30, 2007, on Faro.