, the "poet with the camera" who was one of the greatest directors in motion picture history, died Monday at the age of 89.
From the comic romp of lovers in "Smiles of a Summer Night" to the crusader's search for God in "The Seventh Seal" to the grippingly realistic portrayal of fatal illness in "Cries and Whispers" to the alternately humorous and horrifying depiction of family life in "Fanny and Alexander," Bergman created a cinema unique in the situations he portrayed and the way in which he portrayed them.
He mapped out the geography of the human psyche in terms of pain and torment, desire and religion, evil and love. In Bergman's films, "this world is a place where faith is tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory," Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times Magazine in a profile of the director in 1983. God is either silent or malevolent; men and women are creatures and prisoners of their desires.
For many filmgoers and critics, it was Bergman more than any other director who in a real sense in the 1950s brought a new seriousness to filmmaking. Critics have called Bergman one of the three great directors - the others being Federico Fellini of Italy and Akira Kurosawa of Japan - who dominated the world of serious filmmaking in the second half of the 20th century.