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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Film director Bergman dies at 89
Ingmar Bergman
Bergman was one of the foremost film-makers of the 20th Century
Legendary film-maker Ingmar Bergman, one of the key figures in modern cinema, has died at the age of 89.

His 60-year career spanned intense classics like Cries & Whispers, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.

He was personally nominated for nine Oscars between 1960 and 1984, while three of his productions won Oscars for best foreign film.

Bergman died at his home in Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.

According to the TT news agency, Bergman died peacefully on Faro Island - or Sheep Island - in the Baltic Sea. The director had settled there after using it as a location for several films.

Ingmar Bergman in the 1960s
Bergman won his first Oscar for best foreign film in 1961

Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said: "It's an unbelievable loss for Sweden, but even more so internationally."

And British film director Ken Russell told the BBC: "He was probably the greatest film maker," describing him as a "very gloomy Swede".

"He could hardly bear to watch his own movies, apparently they made him so miserable," he said. "To have done 50 films with such a variety of misery is quite an achievement."

Bergman had five marriages and eight children, and his work often explored the tensions between married couples.

He once said: "My pictures are always part of my thinking, and my emotions, tensions, dreams, desires. Sometimes they appear from the past, sometimes they grow up from my present life."

In a 70th birthday tribute in 1988, Woody Allen said Bergman was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera".

His films are a towering artistic achievement
Mark, Arizona, US

But Bergman confessed in 2004 that he could not bear to watch his own films because they made him depressed.

"I become so jittery and ready to cry... and miserable," he said. "I think it's awful," he said in a rare interview on Swedish TV.

Nick James, editor of cinema magazine Sight & Sound, paid tribute to Bergman as "one of the great masters and one of the great humanists of cinema".

"There are very few people of that kind of stature today," he said. "He proved that cinema could be an artform."

And UK Culture Secretary James Purnell described Bergman as "undoubtedly one of the most important and influential film-makers of all time".

Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist
Bergman (right) worked closely with cinematographer Sven Nykvist
"His contribution to world cinema across a 60-year career is unsurpassed," he said. "With his lifetime's work he has changed the face of film, but also proved that complex and challenging art can engage a wide audience."

Danish director Bille August said Bergman's death was "a real shock to me because he was the last big director left".

August, who described Bergman as an "incredible, unusually bright person", won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 1988 and '92.

Bergman wrote the script for one of the winning films, The Best Intentions, basing it on his memories of his parents.

"The three big directors for me were Kurosawa, Fellini and Bergman," August said. "The two others had already passed and now Ingmar has also left us. He leaves a big vacuum behind."

'He gave hope'

These views were shared by Istvan Szabo, the Oscar-winning Hungarian director who worked with Bergman at the European Film Academy.

He told news agency MTI: "The Bergman films are to viewers like the novels of a great novelist, the poems of a great poet or the works of a great drama writer. "

Oscar-winning Polish director Andrzej Wajda described Bergman as creating "great art" and said that for film directors, "he gave hope, a belief, that if we wanted to say something about ourselves, the world would notice that".

The date of the funeral has not yet been set, but will be attended by a close group of friends and family, it was reported.


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