Ingmar Bergman

"No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."

Ingmar Bergman

The subject of a major recent BFI season to mark the centenary of his birth, Ingmar Bergman stands prominent among cinema's most studied, canonised and influential directors. Marked by his intense examination of the individual and rumination on our state of being, his work is effused with symbolism and intellectual rigour while weilding an often devastating emotional power.  

From Geoff Andrew, BFI season programmer:

Though he also excelled in theatre, Bergman is best known for his work in film and television. The ultimate auteur, he wrote and directed profoundly personal projects notable for their honesty in tackling the ‘big questions’ of everyday existence. How do we live with ourselves and others? Is there an order behind our unjust universe? Can love, sex, compassion and creative endeavour help, given death’s inevitability? Drawing on his own experiences and emotions, Bergman was a fearless, peerless explorer of human psychology. Making repeated use of a group of formidable actors, and refining his narrative and visual style until it focused – in sharp close-up – on essentials, he forged an extraordinary body of work, exhilarating in its dramatic precision, purity and power. 

In his 59 years as a filmmaker (1944-2003), Bergman wrote and/or directed more than 60 films. It’s a daunting figure for newcomers, so if you're new to his work, here's our guide to get you started.