From the mid-1960s until his death in 2007, Sweden’s best-known film director and screenwriter, Ingmar Bergman lived for much of the time on the island of Fårö, off northernmost Gotland. He was born in Uppsala in 1918, the son of a Lutheran pastor. The combination of his harsh upbringing, his interest in the religious art of old churches and the works of August Strindberg inspired Bergman to constantly consider the spiritual and psychological conflicts of life in his films. The results – he made forty feature films between 1946 and 1983 – are certainly dark, and for many, deeply distressing and/or depressing.
Bergman made his first breakthrough at the Cannes Film Festival in 1944, winning the Grand Prix for his film Hets (Persecution), based on his school life. Among his best-known movies are The Seventh Seal (1957), starring Max von Sydow, and Wild Strawberries (also 1957). The two most prevalent themes in his films were marriage and the motives for marital infidelity, and the divide between sanity and madness. One of his finest films, Fanny and Alexander (1982), portrays bourgeois life in Scandinavia at the turn of the twentieth century; it’s actually based on the lives of his own maternal grandparents and is the last major film he made. Bergman married five times, divorcing all but the last of his wives, who died in 1995.