Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden. His father was a Lutheran minister and a chaplain to the Swedish court, while his mother was from a wealthy family. He was close to his mother but often subject to his father's rigid discipline, and Bergman drew upon these relationships, including his parents' strained marriage, throughout his work.
As a child, Bergman made puppets for the puppet-theatre that he and his sister and their friends played with. In 1935 he saw his first production, Strindberg's A Dream Play, and after graduating Stockholm University with a literature degree, he trained as a theatre director. He also published short stories and wrote plays. At 26, Bergman was the youngest theatre manager in Europe, an important position he reinforced through a series of striking productions, especially of classical plays.
In 1944, Bergman debuted in cinema as a screenwriter; his first film as both writer and director was 1949's The Devil's Wanton. However, his artistic breakthrough came in 1953 with Sawdust and Tinsel, and his first international success was Smiles of a Summer Night in 1955.
From the mid 1950s through the 1960s Bergman was considered among the pre-eminent film directors in world cinema, often personifying the European auteur. With films such as Wild Strawberries (1957) winning the Golden Bear at Berlin, The Seventh Seal (1957) receiving the Jury Prize at Cannes, and Persona (1966), he returned again and again to themes of the lack of communication between men and women, questions of guilt and of the existence of God, and man's emotional brutality.
Despite Bergman's status, his films were not always well received in Sweden or abroad. Feminists have denounced Bergman's portrayal of women, although other critics have considered him among the most sensitive interpreters of women in cinema.
In the late 1970s Bergman left Sweden for Munich after accusations of income-tax fraud and a nervous breakdown. He returned to his homeland to make one of his most popular films, Fanny and Alexander (1983), which won the Oscar® for Best Foreign Film. In 1984 he relocated to his homeland to write scripts and books, including his autobiography, a film memoir, and the novel The Best Intentions which was based on his parents' lives. Ingmar Bergman died on July 30, 2007, on the island of Fårö.