In search of god

Ingmar Bergman was the most famous Swedish film director of the second half of the 20th century. Century. It was recognized worldwide and hotly debated, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Now he has died at the age of 89 in his adopted home, the Faroe Islands, where he also made numerous films.

The fact that he conquered audiences so quickly with films like "The Evening of the Jugglers" (1952) or "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries" (both 1957) had to do with the fact that Bergman overcame entertainment cinema and, like few others at the time, understood film as art, that he asked questions about the meaning of life. Bergman invoked the American poet Eugene O'Neill, who said that "all dramatic art is without interest unless it bends over man's relationship to God."Bergman depicted this metaphysical dimension partly in fairy tales and parables, as in "The Seventh Seal," where a knight and crusader plays chess with death. Alongside it are stories with a realistic approach such as "Wild Strawberries," where an old professor, on his way to a tribute, conversations with hitchhikers animate him to reminisce and dream, and finally to take stock of his life.Many of Bergman's films are full of fears and doubts, yet often end in hope or redemption. But there was also the radical opposite, "The Silence" (1963): two sisters are driven into extreme loneliness in a country whose language they do not understand and where war is raging. One sister dies, the other picks up men indiscriminately. "The Silence", which was censored in some countries because of its very explicit sex scenes for its time, is probably Bergman's most desperate film, a cry for help. In the Federal Republic of Germany it was shown uncut in the cinema and received the rating "Especially valuable".Ingmar Bergman was born on 14. July 1918 in Uppsala. Before making his first film, "Crisis," in 1946, he had already worked on various stages, and theater remained his second mainstay. Above all at the "Dramaten" in Stockholm he was active as a director and for some years (1963-1966) also as a director. He has staged Strindberg's great, haunted works such as "Dream Play" and "Ghost Sonata," Ibsen's women's plays "Nora" and "Hedda Gabler," as well as Buchner's "Woyzeck" and Peter Weiss' "The Investigation".In the seventies and eighties, Bergman also directed plays in Munich, including Chekhov's "Three Sisters" and Gombrovicz's "Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy". In Bergman's work, films and theater performances form a unity, fed by the desire to uncover the riddle of life.Among his 50 or so films are numerous masterpieces such as "Persona" (1966), "Cries and Whispers" (1972), "Scenes from a Marriage" (1973) or "Fanny and Alexander" (1982). He often tells of relationships between women, of families falling apart or finding each other again, of the inevitability of illness and death.That his films have had their own distinctive tone over the decades is due in no small part to his ensemble of actors. Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom, Liv Ullmann or Erland Josephson have not only played the most extreme roles professionally, but filled them with life and passion.

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Christina Cherry
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