Ingmar Bergman - Early Life

Early Life

Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden, the son of Erik Bergman, a Lutheran minister and later chaplain to the King of Sweden, and Karin (Akerblom), a nurse. He grew up with his older brother Dag and sister Margareta surrounded by religious imagery and discussion. His father was a conservative parish minister with strict parenting concepts. Ingmar was locked up in dark closets for "infractions" like wetting the bed. "While father preached away in the pulpit and the congregation prayed, sang, or listened", Ingmar wrote in his autobiography Laterna Magica:

"I devoted my interest to the church’s mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above the strangest vegetation of medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and walls. There was everything that one’s imagination could desire — angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans."

Although raised in a devout Lutheran household, Bergman later stated that he lost his faith at age eight, and only came to terms with this fact while making Winter Light. Bergman's interest in theatre and film began early: "At the age of 9, he traded a set of tin soldiers for a magic lantern, a possession that altered the course of his life. Within a year, he had created, by playing with this toy, a private world in which he felt completely at home, he recalled. He fashioned his own scenery, marionettes, and lighting effects and gave puppet productions of Strindberg plays in which he spoke all the parts."

In 1934, aged 16, he was sent to Germany to spend the summer vacation with family friends. He attended a Nazi rally in Weimar at which he saw Adolf Hitler. He later wrote in Laterna Magica (The Magic Lantern) about the visit to Germany, describing how the German family had put a portrait of Adolf Hitler on the wall by his bed, and that "for many years, I was on Hitler's side, delighted by his success and saddened by his defeats". Bergman did two five-month stretches of mandatory military service.

In 1937, he entered Stockholm University College (later renamed Stockholm University), to study art and literature. He spent most of his time involved in student theatre and became a "genuine movie addict". At the same time, a romantic involvement led to a break with his father that lasted for years. Although he did not graduate, he wrote a number of plays, as well as an opera, and became an assistant director at a theater. In 1942, he was given the chance to direct one of his own scripts, Caspar's Death. The play was seen by members of Svensk Filmindustri, which then offered Bergman a position working on scripts. In 1943, he married Else Fisher.

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