When Bergman's films began to reach festivals and audiences outside Sweden in the mid-50s, they launched a new wave of enthusiasm and respect for cinema among the post-war generation. Countless artists and intellectuals have recorded how they were profoundly affected by ‘Summer with Monika’, ‘The Seventh Seal’ And ‘Wild Strawberries’, often seen while they were students or film society members.
Coming after Italian Neo-realism and just before the French 'new wave', they promised a new seriousness and ambition - and a new sexual frankness - to the rising generation. Throughout the 60s, Bergman's path mirrored many of the period's anxieties and traumas, while he became the first of the major European filmmakers to embrace the new opportunities offered by television. How does his reputation stand today, as we mark the centenary of his birth? A distant memory of how cinema was once 'the most important art' - or a recognition that he was often ahead of the game? Ian Christie will weigh up the pros and cons of his reputation.