13. Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007 )
With a team of regular collaborators, including actress Liv Ullmann and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, Ingmar Bergman brought the raw emotion of the stage to film, enchanting audiences around the globe. Working first as a playwright, Bergman’s unflinching interest in the pathos of his characters transcended language, affording him one of the most respected careers in cinema history.
Autobiographical in nature, his films display keen observations of the human condition, whether dealing in comedy or drama. Bergman’s scripts are intellectual and introspective, allowing a stellar group of actors to display more range in one performance than other actors have in their entire careers. Ignoring special effects, Bergman instead employed lighting as his tool of choice. Through constant collaboration, he and Nykvist innovated ways in which lighting could move the story forward: displaying emotion and revealing the hidden secrets of the characters. He easily transitioned the rules of theater to the medium of film, donating a uniquely uncomplicated—albeit not easily duplicated—style to the world of cinema.
As distributor Emily Russo says, “Bergman is quite simply an extraordinarily gifted artist; his originality blazed a trail and left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape which continues to inspire and be emulated by countless filmmakers who follow him today. His concerns reached the depths of human emotion and spirit and proved to be universal in their language. No serious list of influential directors can fairly omit him.”