Swedish director and author Ingmar Bergman has joined those of my Swedish heroes who have passed in these recent years. He joins Olle Adolphson, Povel Ramel in the list of my dead heroes.
Bergman was one of the figures from whom I learned about the "new Sweden." He was the cultural departure from my father's generation of working class lodge members who first showed me that Swedishness was culturally informed, deep and melancholy.
I first encountered Bergman's work as an undergraduate. Dr. Anderson, half of Augustana's Swedish department, taught a seminar in Bergman films. We watched "The Seventh Seal," "Persona," and "Hour of the Wolf." There may have been others, but these are the films I remember best.
Eighteen years ago, on my first trip to Sweden, I wanted to attend something, anything at Dramaten. I was fortunate enough to get to see Bergman's production of Ibsen's "A Doll's House." I even got free tickets. Unfortunately, I fell asleep in act II.
Ten years ago, while working for the Swedish American paper Nordstjernan, as their Chicago correspondent, I had opportunity to interview one of Bergman's wives, Liv Ullman. She was gracious and beautiful and extremely shy. Her comments on Bergman were like her personality, gracious and beautiful.
This summer, during the Anderson Sweden Highlights tour, Lasse Henningson, our bus driver, related an interesting story about Bergman and the residents of Fårö. The island dwellers, on the island where he lived and where he'd shot several films, were very protective of their most famous resident.
If they didn't like you, and you asked about Bergman, they'd show you the house where he lived. Only it wasn't the house where he lived.
Bergman was a very private man. The islanders did their best to protect his privacy from outsiders, especially those outsiders of the press who wished to pry.
And now he is gone. Those who love film and the theatre will miss the appearance of a new film or stage play directed by Ingmar Bergman.
Andrew O'Hehir writes a very personal tribute to Bergman at Salon.com. Perhaps this is the only kind of tribute that can be written.
Interesting to note that, in this morning's Aftonbladet the tributes did not include one from Liv Ullman.