Influential director Ingmar Bergman has died.

The film-maker behind such works as The Seventh Seal, Cries & Whispers and Wild Strawberries passed away at his home on the island of Faro, Sweden, aged 89, his daughter Eve said.

One of the most revered of film-makers, Bergman enjoyed a 60-year career, which began in 1946 with Crisis.

Among Bergman's many awards and accolades were the three best foreign-language Oscars he won for The Virgin Spring (1960), Through a Glass Darkly (1962) and Fanny And Alexander (1982); he also received a best director nomination for the last of these, as well as Cries And Whispers (1972) and Face To Face (1976).

Bergman, who has died only a fortnight after his 89th birthday, was one of the towering figures of a golden age of European arthouse cinema. A decade ago, when he was awarded the Palme Des Palmes at the 50th Cannes Festival in 1997 in absentia, it was already clear that he was among the last of a breed of prolific auteurs (including such figures as Federico Fellini, Andrei Tarkovsky and Michelangelo Antonioni) whose work was always utterly personal and utterly distinctive.

What is startling about Bergman's career isn't just how prolific he was (between his debut Crisis in 1946 and his swansong Saraband in 2003, he made over 50 films.) It is the fact that he combined his film-making with an equally distinguished career as a stage director.

Between 1938 and 2002, he is calculated to have directed 125 theatre productions and sometimes used to claim that he was more deeply attached to theatre than cinema. He was also active as director of radio plays and films for TV and was prolific as a writer.

Bergman was famous for tapping his own life for material for his film work. Born on 14 July 1918, he was the son of a Lutheran pastor and grew up in a vicarage near Sophiahemmet Hospital.

As all Bergman fans know, one of the key moments in his childhood was when he got hold of a film projector. (This was originally given to his elder brother Dag but Bergman arranged a swap, giving Dag an army of tin soldiers in exchange for the projector.)

It was a troubled childhood but his battles with his draconian father later provided a rich mine of inspiration.

A prodigy, Bergman became Sweden's youngest theatre director at the Helsinborg Stadsteater in 1944. By then, he was also beginning his film career, scripting Alf Sjoberg's Frenzy (1944) before making his own directorial debut two years later.

His early film career was chequered. He later claimed that it was only with Summer Interlude (1951) that he really began to master the craft. His international breakthrough came with Smiles Of A Summer Night (1955). Without his knowledge, the film was submitted to Cannes where it was a prize winner.

Bergman learned of its success while sitting at home on the toilet, reading the Svenska Dagbladet. The director promptly flew down to Cannes with actress Bibi Andersson in tow and managed to persuade a hitherto reluctant Carl Anders Dymling (the head of Svensk Film) to finance what was to become his most famous film, The Seventh Seal (1957).

Controversy was never far away from Bergman. 'Politics never again,' he proclaimed after learning about the crimes of the Nazis. (As a teenager, he had had a youthful enthusiasm for Hitler, whom he had once heard speak, and for the National Socialists.)

In the mid-1970s, he went into exile from Sweden after becoming embroiled in a bitter battle with the tax authorities. Even late in his career, with Saraband, he sometimes seemed more appreciated abroad than at home.

Bergman was far more lithe and versatile than his reputation as a quintessentially morose Scandinavian film-makers suggests. There is a world of difference between the gloom of The Seventh Seal ('at the heart of that film is an insane fear of death' he confessed), the formal experimentalism of Persona (1966) and the youthful romanticism of Summer With Monika (1953).

His repertory of actors - Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Max Von Sydow, Liv Ullmann - became international stars on the back of their work with him.

In a moving interview with fellow film-maker Jorn Donner in the late 1990s, he explained just how he would like to be remembered. 'I am first and foremost a craftsman and I make fine goods for people's use,' he said. 'I'd be very upset if it should ever come to pass that no-one wanted my goods...I can be very proud in a professional sense of having done a good job.'