David Gritten in The Telegraph:
It would be stretching a point to claim Ingmar Bergman invented art-house cinema. Other directors before him had presented visions of cinema so austere and serious as to exclude entertainment values completely; but Bergman was the first to attract such wide audiences to his work.
Buñuel’s experiments with Dalí qualified as high art, but were so experimental as to be museum pieces. Italian neo-realists such as De Sica and Rossellini tackled serious social themes, but always addressed themselves to audiences’ emotions. Bergman seemed grandly indifferent to such considerations; the rigour, seriousness and intellectual questing of his films became their unique selling point.
He became a giant on the stage of world cinema with The Seventh Seal, re-released last week in Britain on its 50th anniversary to gushing reviews.