Pioneer filmmaker Ingmar Bergman died today at the age of 89. Known for such groundbreaking films as The Seventh Seal, Fanny and Alexander, Wild Strawberries, and Winter Light, Bergman made some 50 movies over a career spanning more than 40 years. He was almost single-handedly responsible for introducing metaphysics to cinema, but he never considered himself a practitioner of high art or a purveyor of heady symbolism. In his forthcoming book, Ingmar
Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity, Irving Singer articulates the singular director's humble vision of his work—and his ability to transcend the distinction between what Bergman defined as his craft and what film lovers perceive as art at its most profound:
In several interviews, Bergman spoke of himself as a craftsman, a maker of objects that people could use to satisfy some daily need. Like any carpenter or other workman, he denied that his productions were designed for eternity or some idealistic goal related to art-for-art’s-sake. If his efforts are not of interest to anyone, he said, they can and should be discarded, totally ignored by prospective audiences. Authentic as this disclaimer may be, Bergman’s work transcends any arbitrary separation between art and craft. This may apply as well to many products of carpentry or other handiwork, but the deliberate and delving thoughtfulness in Bergman movies gives them a further dimension that only the greatest creativity attains. And in his case, as I have been suggesting, it partly results from the fact that his temporal being so completely and so obviously permeates his endeavors as a filmmaker.
Professor Singer adds: "There will never be another like Ingmar Bergman—he has changed the world of film that much. But he will always be an inspiration for those who seek to emulate his great and many achievements as a screen and stage director, as a writer, and as a perceptive witness to the era in which he lived."