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Ingmar Bergman (1918 -- 2007)

The death of Ingmar Bergman, aged 89, in July 2007 made headlines around the world. His influence extended well beyond the cinema, to the extent that he came partly to define foreigners' perceptions of his native land, Sweden, and fellow countrymen. Of the 50 films Bergman directed, 3 won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®. 11 starred Max von Sydow. As an auteur director, he made intensely personal films, reflecting his own emotions, preoccupations and relationships.

He confessed that watching them made even him feel gloomy! Works such as The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957) and Fanny and Alexander (1982) played mainly to niche, art-house audiences and did not cross over to the mainstream. But Bergman exerted a huge influence on other filmmakers. He showed how films with complex, if sometimes wretched, character arcs and searingly beautiful images could be accepted as works of art in their own right - and he was one of the world's first filmmakers to earn such a fine reputation.

Sadly, Bergman passed away in the same week as two other leading lights of European cinema: Michelangelo Antonioni (director of Blow Up) and Michel Serrault (best known in the UK as the star of La Cage aux Folles).