The 79-year-old Oscar-winning Swede, who has made more than 30 films in his career, said he was too shy and old to collect the unique prize at Sunday's awards ceremony at the Palais des Festivals in front of 800 guests. It was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Linn Ullmann and her mother Liv who read out a statement, saying: "After years and years of playing with the images of life and death life itself has finally caught up with me and made me shy and silent. I want to say thank you to everybody."
Bergman, who made The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and Persona, was selected for the prize by two dozen surviving Palme d'Or winners including Britain's Mike Leigh and Roland Joffe, and Americans Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Earlier, the Golden Palm winners had lunched with French president Jacques Chirac.