Bergman’s bleak, knotty films were the bane and the delight of film students in the 1970s and 1980s. (Are they still?) His 1957 masterpiece The Seventh Seal is in 50th-anniversary release this year. That film includes two iconic frames: the chess game with death, and the hilltop conga line with the Grim Reaper. Here’s a brief synopsis of the film:
Max von Sydow is a 14th Century knight wearily heading for home after ten years’ of combat. Disillusioned by unending war, plague and misery he has concluded that God does not exist. As the knight trudges across the wilderness, he is visited by Death, garbed in the traditional black robe. Unwilling to give up the ghost, he challenges Death to a game of chess. As they play, they get into a spiritual discussion over whether or not God exists.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, it ain’t.
Bergman-directed films won three Academy Awards for best foreign film: The Virgin Spring (1961), Through a Glass Darkly (1962), and the warmer and more beloved Fanny and Alexander (1982).
And though they practically shared a name, he was no relation to actress Ingrid Bergman, of Casablanca fame.
Update: Film director Michelangelo Antonioni has also died at age 94. Another art-house fave, Antonioni is most famous for Blow-Up, his confounding 1966 classic in which David Hemmings plays a mod photographer who starts to think he has captured a murder on film.