World mourns ‘a genius of our time’

World mourns 'a genius of our time'
Photo: Karl Heinz Hernried/Royal Library/ Imagebank Sweden
Tributes have been pouring in for Ingmar Bergman, one of the most influential film directors of the 20th century, who died on Monday at his home on the Swedish island of Fårö. He was 89.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt hailed Bergman as “one of the great dramatists in this world,” and French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to “one of the geniuses of our time.”

“The dream ended, the music went quiet that night on the island of Fårö, where Ingmar Bergman died,” Sarkozy said. “France, a land of the cultural exception that was dear to Ingmar Bergman, honours his memory.”

Max Von Sydow, who appeared in 11 Bergman films, spoke of his “infinite gratitude” not only for the professional opportunities but also “the immense privilege to have been his friend.”

As an actor, he said, “no one counted as much for me as Ingmar Bergman.”

Danish film director Lars von Trier said he felt like he and Bergman were family:

“I am therefore proud to say that he treated me exactly like his other children — with no interest whatsoever,” von Trier said, according to AP.

Director Michael Apted, head of the Directors Guild of America, said in a statement:

“Bergman was the epitome of a director’s director – creating beautiful, complex and smart films that imprinted permanently into the psyche.” He had inspired filmmakers all over the world to create their own movies with similar passion, Apted added. The DGA gave Bergman its highest honour, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

Filmmaker Woody Allen earlier paid tribute to Bergman, one of his biggest influences, by bidding him farewell with a final joke.

“I was very saddened by the death of Ingmar Bergman. He was a friend and certainly the greatest film artist of my lifetime,” Allen said in a statement.

“He told me that he was afraid that he would die on a very, very sunny day and I can only hope it was overcast and he got the weather he wanted,” he said.

Gilles Jacob, president of the Cannes film festival, said “modern cinema has lost one of its last pioneers, a pioneer of genius.”

Bergman won three best foreign language film Oscars and, despite his preoccupation with dark themes such as death and sexual anguish, was widely acclaimed for perennial arthouse favourites like “The Seventh Seal” (1957) and “Fanny and Alexander” (1982),

For many movie buffs, Bergman was the greatest of the authorial film-makers of the 1950s and 1960s, outranking such figures as Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel or Jean-Luc Godard.

His daughter Eva Bergman told the TT news agency her father had passed away “peacefully” on Monday but did not give the cause of death.

A funeral for family and friends was being organised, the agency said. Rumours about Bergman’s declining health had been circulating for months.