Swedish filmmaker Bergman dies

LEGENDARY Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, who influenced a generation of film-makers with his often stark works, died yesterday at the age of 89.

The self-taught film-maker and scriptwriter died yesterday morning at his home on Faro Island in the Baltic Sea, chief executive of the Swedish Film Institute, Cissi Elwin said.

“It’s a very big loss today,” Ms Elwin said. “It’s very, very strange and very unreal because Ingmar Bergman is so much (a part of) Swedish film.”

Earlier this month, Bergman appeared at the annual celebration on Faro Island of his half-century career, she said.

Bergman was famed for films such as Wild Strawberries, Scenes From a Marriage and Fanny and Alexander — a classic that won four Oscars — which brought Sweden a reputation for melancholy but made him an acknowledged master of modern cinema.

His work, in all, encompassed 54 films, 126 theatre productions and 39 radio plays. His cinematic masterpieces often dwelt on sexual confusion, loneliness and the vain search for the meaning of life — themes he ascribed to a traumatic childhood in which he was beaten by his father.

News of Bergman’s death prompted an outpouring in local media while Swedish television interrupted regular broadcasting to pay homage.

“I believe that it is hard to fully comprehend the contribution that Ingmar Bergman made to Swedish film and drama,” Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said. “His works are immortal.” Ms Elwin said the Swedish Film Institute planned a memorial night in August.

Bergman said in 2001 that demons tormented his life. “The demons are innumerable, appear at the most inconvenient times and create panic and terror,” he said. “But I have learnt that if I can master the negative forces and harness them to my chariot, then they can work to my advantage.”

He won Academy Awards for best foreign language film in 1960, 1961 and 1983. He was married five times and had nine children.

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