GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#2: [Right] with dir Ingmar Bergman - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

#3: With dir Liv Ullmann

 

   


SVEN NYKVIST

 

Born: 3 December 1922, Moheda, Kronobergs län, Sweden, as Sven Vilhem Nykvist, son of Gustaf Nykvist [1871-1944], a Lutheran missionary. [His parents spent most of their lives in the Belgian Congo, so Sven was raised by relatives in Sweden and saw his parents rarely.]

Died: 20 September 2006, Stockholm, Sweden.

Education: Stockholm Municipal School for Photographers [Still ph].

Career: Joined Sandrews Studio in 1941 as c.asst. From 1943-44 he worked as c.asst/interpreter for Mario Soldati and Franco Vigni at the Cinecittà Studios, Rome.

In 1997, while working on Woody Allen's 'Celebrity', he was diagnosed with progressive aphasia, a form of dementia, that forced him into early retirement.

Former member of the FSF. Was a member of the ASC.

His son Carl-Gustaf [Charlie] is a film director.

Wrote the book 'Resan till Lambarene/Journey to Lambarene' [1959] on Albert Schweitzer.

Appeared in the doc's 'Foto: Sven Nykvist' [1972, Bayley Silleck; ph: Stephen Goldblatt; SN is also the commentator and narrator], 'Stand By to Shoot!' [1974, Katinka Faragó & Hans Reutersvard], 'Tre scener med Ingmar Bergman' [1975, Jörn Donner], 'A Look at Liv' [1977, Richard Kaplan], 'The Bergman File' [1977, Jörn Donner], 'Storyville Story' [1978, Lasse Summanen & Charlie Nykvist], 'Lights Please - En film om ljus och mörker' [1985, Lars Svanberg], "Dokument Fanny och Alexander/The Making of 'Fanny and Alexander'" [1986, Ingmar Bergman; ph: Arne Carlsson], 'Regi - Andrej Tarkovsky' [1988, Michal Leszczylowski], 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991], 'Jag är nyfiken, film/I Am Curious, Film' [1995, Stig Björkman], 'Lumière et compagnie' [1995, seg dir by Liv Ullmann], 'Liv Ullmann scener fra et liv' [1997, Edvard Hambro], 'Cinéma de notre temps: une journée d'Andrei Arsenevitch' [2000, Chris Marker] & 'Ljuset håller mig sällskap/Light Keeps Me Company' [1999, Carl-Gustaf Nykvist].

Awards: Guldbagge Awards 'Jury Specialbagge' [1973]; 'Oscar' AA [1973], NSFC Award [1973] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1974] for 'Viskningar och rop/Cries and Whispers'; 'César' Award [1976] for 'Black Moon'; BSC Award [1983], LAFCA Award [1983], 'Oscar' AA [1984] & BAFTA Film Award [1984] for 'Fanny och Alexander'; Cannes FF 'Best Artistic Contribution' [1986] for 'Offret'; BSC Award nom [1988], 'Oscar' AA nom [1989], ASC Award nom [1989] & Independent Spirit Award [1989] for 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'; BSC Award nom [1992] for 'Chaplin'; Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [1993]; Camerimage 'Golden Frog' nom [1995] for 'Kristin Lavransdatter'; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [1996]; Camerimage 'Special Award' [1998; shared with Ingmar Bergman]; FSF 'Golden Aperture Plate' [199?] 'for his global incarnation of the spirit of Swedish cinematography'.



Sven Nykvist's color cinematography on the films of director Ingmar Bergman has won him praise, awards - and endless imitators. Nykvist was the director of photography on all of Bergman's films and most of his television productions from 'Jungfrukällan/The Virgin Spring' through 'Fanny och Alexander/Fanny and Alexander' and 'Efter repetitionen/After the Rehearsal'. So well does Nykvist's cinematography fit Bergman's later films that it is difficult to untangle their mutual influence on each other's work.

When he was part of Bergman's tightly knit 18-person crew, Nykvist's responsibilities included lighting and actually working the camera, as well as designing the cinematography for the production. This may account for the decline in quality [from superb down to excellent] when Nykvist works on American films, and must delegate part of his duties among the crew. Nevertheless, there is also clearly a symbiotic matching of tastes and temperaments between himself and Bergman that Nykvist has not shared with other directors. Both Swedes are the sons of pastors, both had difficult childhoods and both fondly recall an early fascination with the power of film and light over the imagination.

Nykvist's pioneering with natural light sources complements Bergman's penchant for location shooting and minimalist shot compositions. While Nykvist builds upon the Swedish tradition of filmmaking in his style, he has brought the national tradition of stark psychological landscape into international favor with color cinematography that achieves iconographical beauty by eschewing the distracting prettiness generally associated with color film. Initially, Nykvist was reluctant to move from black & white to color because color's tendency to prettify subjects and emphasize detail made it difficult to show something as convincingly 'ugly'. When color became a commercial necessity, Nykvist and Bergman got off to a false start in 'För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor/Now About These Women' [1963], which made them run for cover back to black & white until they shot 'En passion/A Passion' in 1968. By ignoring much of the conventional wisdom about using color film, Nykvist finally managed to bring an iconographical style to 'Viskningar och rop/Cries and Whispers', his fourth color film for Bergman.

Nykvist emphasizes that he strives for realism, but his use of the term is misleading. He portrays psychological truth rather than social realism, and his heavy reliance on natural light and geometrically precise shot composition gives his work the convincing quality of a dream, not a documentary. Nykvist explains that light is the key to his cinematography, and that light is a character in Bergman's films. The significance of an actor's actions often is determined by subtle differences in lighting. This fascination with light is probably linked to both men's experience of Sweden's sunless winters and unblinking summer sun. On 'Viskningar och rop/Cries and Whispers' the two men spent weeks simply gauging the natural light at different times of day inside the house which served as the main interior for the film. This careful pre-production work in terms of light is typical of their style.

For decades, foreign cinematographers had little chance of working in American films. The easing of union regulations in the 1970s, however, allowed European directors of photography an increasing visibility in the American film industry. Since then, Nykvist has photographed a variety of American films. And over the years, he has worked for other filmmakers, including Louis Malle, Roman Polanski, Volker Schlöndorff, Philip Kaufman, Lasse Hallström, Liv Ullmann [in which he maintained his Bergman connection], and Woody Allen, and directed his own films. Particularly notable is his work with Allen on 'Another Woman', 'Crimes and Misdemeanors', and the 'Oedipus Wrecks' episode of 'New York Stories'. But Nykvist still remains synonymous with Ingmar Bergman, with their collaboration producing the cinematographer's most innovative, influential, and renowned work. In 'Ljuset håller mig sällskap/Light Keeps Me Company', a documentary directed by Nykvist's son, Carl-Gustav, Bergman noted, 'Sven and I saw things alike, thought things alike; our feeling for light was the same. We had the same basic moral positions about camera placement.' [From an article by Patricia Ferrara, updated by Rob Edelman, on the filmreference.com website.]

 


 

 FILMS

1942

En Stockholmssilhuett [Bibi Lindström] b&w; doc/10m

1943

I mörkaste Småland/In the Darkest Corner of Småland [Schamyl Bauman] b&w; cph: Olle Nordemar

1943

Östersjöns nyckel [Carl-Åke Wadsten] b&w; doc/12m

1944

Indianer och blekansikten [Ragnar Falck] b&w; short/10m

1944

Barnen från Frostmofjället/The Children from Frostmo Mountain [Rolf Husberg] b&w; cph: Olle Nordemar (Nykvist began as c.asst, but took over ph when O. Nordemar fell ill); filmed August 1944 & April 1945

1944

Tre söner gick till flyget [Rolf Husberg] b&w; ph December 1944; cph: Olle Nordemar (September-November 1944)

1945

13 stolar/The 13 Chairs [Börje Larsson] b&w

1945

Gomorron Bill!/Good Morning, Bill! [Lauritz Falk & Peter Winner] b&w; cph: Hilding Bladh & Göran Strindberg

1946

Där lägereldarna brinna [Mauritz Sandin] b&w; doc/8m

1946

Förnuftig fritid [Bo Löfberg] b&w; doc/12m

1946

Saltstänk och krutgubbar/Gay Old Time/Salt Water Spray and Tough Old Boys [Schamyl Bauman] b&w

1947

En stad med tradition - En film om staden Lund [Bo Löfberg] b&w; doc/10m

1947

Ett yrke med tradition [Bo Löfberg] b&w; doc/9m

1947

Lata Lena och blåögda Per/Lazy Lena and Blue Eyed Per [Lennart Wallén] b&w

1947

Maj på Malö/Maj from Malö [Schamyl Bauman & Ragnar Arvedson] b&w

1948

Hin och smålänningen/The Devil and the Man from Småland [Ivar Johansson] b&w; cph: Carl-Eric Edlund

1948

Sjösalavår/Spring in Sjösala [Per Gunvall] b&w

1948

I fetischmannens spår/In the Footsteps of the Witch Doctor/In the Footsteps of the Magician [Sven Nykvist] b&w; doc/14m

1949

Lång-Lasse i Delsbo/Lanky Lasse Goes to Delsbo [Ivar Johansson] b&w

1949

Rågens rike/The Land of Rye [Ivar Johansson] b&w

1949

Loffe blir polis/Loffe Joins the Police [Elof Ahrle] b&w; cph: Göran Strindberg

1949

Bohus Bataljon/Bohus Battalion [Sölve Cederstrand] b&w

1950

Bisi Congo [Sven Nykvist] b&w; doc/10m

1950

När syrenerna blomma/When Lilacs Bloom [Ivar Johansson] b&w

1952

Under Södra korset/Under the Southern Cross [Olof Bergström & Sven Nykvist] b&w; doc/83m; + co-prod/co-scrpl/co-stills/co-sound

1952

Vördnad för livet/Respect for Life [Sven Nykvist] b&w; doc/16m; + scrpl

1952

Barabbas [Alf Sjöberg] b&w; cph: Göran Strindberg

1952

Vägen till Klockrike/The Road to Klockrike [Gunnar Skoglund] b&w

1953

Gycklarnas afton/The Naked Night/Sawdust and Tinsel/Sunset of a Clown [Ingmar Bergman] b&w; prod was started by ph Göran Strindberg and was finished by S. Nykvist (int) & Hilding Bladh (ext)

1953

Salka Valka [Arne Mattsson] b&w

1953

Storm över Tjurö [Arne Mattsson] b&w

1954

Karin Månsdotter [Alf Sjöberg] b&w-c

1954

Älskling på vågen/Darling at Sea [Schamyl Bauman] c; cph: Göran Strindberg

1955

Den underbara lögnen/The True and the False/Gentle Thief of Love [Schamyl Bauman & Michael Road] b&w

1955

Sista ringen/The Last Form [Gunnar Skoglund] b&w

1955

En drömmares vandring/A Dreamer's Walk [Lars-Magnus Lindgren] b&w

1955

Ett kungligt äventyr/A Royal Adventure [Daniel Birt] c; there is also an English version: 'Laughing in the Sunshine'

1955

Nattbarn/Children of the Night [Gunnar Hellström] b&w

1955

Blånande hav/Blue Sea [Gunnar Skoglund] c

1955

Gorilla - En filmberättelse från Belgiska Kongo [Lars-Henrik Ottoson & Lorens Marmstedt] as/c; doc/88m; cph: Bengt Lindström

1956

Flickan i frack/Girl in Tails [Arne Mattsson] c

1956

Den tappre soldaten Jönsson/The Brave Soldier Jönsson [Håkan Bergström] b&w; cph: Rune Ericson

1956

Gäst i eget hus/Guest at One's Own Home [Stig Olin] b&w

1957

Synnöve Solbakken/A Girl of Solbakken [Gunnar Hellström] c

1957

Damen i svart/The Lady in Black [Arne Mattsson] b&w

1958

Laila/Make Way for Lila [Rolf Husberg] c

1958

Der Engel, der seine Harfe versetzte [Kurt Hoffmann] b&w

1959

Får jag låna din fru?/Lend Me Your Wife [Arne Mattsson] b&w

1959

Jungfrukällan/The Virgin Spring [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1959

Lampenfieber [Kurt Hoffmann] b&w

1959

A Matter of Morals/De sista stegen [John Cromwell] as/b&w

1960

Domaren/The Judge [Alf Sjöberg] b&w

1960

Såsom i en spegel/Through a Glass Darkly [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1961

Die Ehe des Herrn Mississippi/The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi [Kurt Hoffmann] b&w

1961

Mörderspiel/Murder Party/Le jeu de l'assassin [Helmut Ashley] b&w

1961

Lita på mej, älskling!/Trust Me, Darling! [Sven Lindberg] b&w

1961

Nattvardsgästerna/Winter Light/The Communicants [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1962

Schneewittchen und die sieben Gaukler/Snow White and the Seven Jugglers [Kurt Hoffmann] c

1962

Tystnaden/The Silence [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1962

Liebe will gelernt sein [Kurt Hoffmann] b&w

1963

Prins Hatt under jorden [Bengt Lagerkvist] b&w

1963

För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor/All These Women/Now About These Women [Ingmar Bergman] c

1963

Klänningen/The Dress [Vilgot Sjöman] b&w

1964

Att älska/To Love [Jörn Donner] b&w

1964

Älskande par/Loving Couples [Mai Zetterling] b&w

1965

Lianbron/The Vine Bridge [Sven Nykvist] c

1965

Persona [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1966

Vargtimmen/Hour of the Wolf [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1966

Roseanna [Hans Abramson] c

1967

Bränt barn/The Sinning Urge [Hans Abramson] c

1967

Skammen/Shame [Ingmar Bergman] b&w

1968

En passion/The Passion of Anna/A Passion [Ingmar Bergman] c

1969

An-Magritt [Arne Skouen] c

1969

Erste Liebe/First Love [Maximilian Schell] c; filming took 76 days between May 1969 and March 1970

 

#1: [Left] with Ingmar Bergman - "Beröringen"

#2: [Right] with actors Bibi Andersson & Elliott Gould - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

 

1970

Beröringen/The Touch [Ingmar Bergman] c

1970

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich/En dag i Ivan Denisovitsj' liv [Caspar Wrede] c

1971

The Last Run [Richard Fleischer (replaced John Huston after 3 weeks)] p/c; 2uc: Neil Gemmel

1971

Lockfågeln/The Decoy/The Birdcall [Torgny Wickman] p/c

 

 

1971

Viskningar och rop/Cries and Whispers [Ingmar Bergman] c

1972

Siddhartha [Conrad Rooks] p/c

1973

The Dove [Charles Jarrott] p/c

1973

Victoria [Max von Sydow] ?

1974

Sanningens ögonblick/The Moment of Truth [Vilgot Sjöman, Ingmar Bergman, Jonas Cornell, a.o.] 16mm/b&w-c; short/32m; cph: Jörgen Persson, Petter Davidson, a.o.; made as a tribute to Harry Schein (founder of the SFI) on his 50th birthday

1974

Ransom/The Terrorists [Caspar Wrede] c

1974

Black Moon [Louis Malle] c

1975

Monismanien 1995 - En film om frihet/Monismania [Kenne Fant] 16mm-35bu/c

 

[Right] with Roman Polanski - "Le locataire" - photo by Bernard Prim

 

1975

Le locataire/The Tenant [Roman Polanski] c

1976

The Serpent's Egg/Das Schlangenei [Ingmar Bergman] c; addph: Peter Rohe & Dietrich Lohmann

1977

Pretty Baby [Louis Malle] c; 2uc: François Catonné

1977

En och en/One and One [Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin & Sven Nykvist] c; + co-prod

1977

Höstsonaten/Autumn Sonata [Ingmar Bergman] c

1978

King of the Gypsies [Frank Pierson] c; collab ph: Edward Lachman; spec unit ph: Lars Looschen

1978

Hurricane/Forbidden Paradise [Jan Troell] tao35 (+ 70bu)/c

1978

Starting Over [Alan J. Pakula] c

1979

Willie and Phil [Paul Mazursky] c

1979

Marmeladupproret/Marmalade Revolution [Erland Josephson] c; + co-prod

1980

The Postman Always Rings Twice [Bob Rafelson] c

1980

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten/From the Life of the Marionettes [Ingmar Bergman] b&w-c

1980

[John Steinbeck's] Cannery Row [David S. Ward] c

1982

Star 80 [Bob Fosse] c

1983

Un amour de Swann/Swann in Love [Volker Schlöndorff] c

1985

Offret/The Sacrifice [Andrei Tarkovsky] b&w-c

1985

Agnes of God [Norman Jewison] c

1985

Dream Lover [Alan J. Pakula] c

1987

The Unbearable Lightness of Being [Philip Kaufman] c; 2uc: Joseph Ort-Snep

1988

New York Stories [seg 'Oedipus Wrecks' dir by Woody Allen] c; other seg ph by Néstor Almendros & Vittorio Storaro

1988

Another Woman [Woody Allen] c

1988

Ved Vejen/Katinka/Vid vägen [Max von Sydow] c; cph: Claus Loof

 

[Right] with Woody Allen - "Crimes and Misdemeanors"

Photo by Brian Hamill - Thys Ockersen Archive

 

1988

Crimes and Misdemeanors [Woody Allen] c

1989

Buster's Bedroom [Rebecca Horn] c

1991

Oxen/The Ox [Sven Nykvist] c; + small part

1991

Chaplin [Richard Attenborough] b&w-c; 2uc: Alexander Witt

1992

Sleepless in Seattle [Nora Ephron] c; 2uc: Marty Oppenheimer & David Wagreich (Baltimore); aph: Jon Kranhouse

1992

What's Eating Gilbert Grape [Lasse Hallström] c

1993

With Honors [Alek Keshishian] c

1993

Only You/Him/Just in Time [Norman Jewison] c; 2uc: Nicola Pecorini

1994

Mixed Nuts/Lifesavers [Nora Ephron] c

1994

Kristin Lavransdatter/Kransen [Liv Ullmann] c

1994

Something to Talk About/Grace Under Pressure [Lasse Hallström] c; 2uc: Anastas Michos

1997

Celebrity [Woody Allen] b&w; 2uc: Peter Reniers

1997

Curtain Call [Peter Yates] c

1997

Storm of the Heart [Don Baldwin] announced; started casting in 2013; status unknown

 

 TELEVISION

1968

Riten/The Rite/The Ritual [Ingmar Bergman] tvm/b&w

1969

Fårödokument/Fårö-dokument/The Fårö Document [Ingmar Bergman] doc/b&w-c/88m; ph color inserts; also part of the doc 'Fårö-dokument 1979' (1979/103m)

1970

Karpfs Karriere [Bernhard Wicki] tvm

1972

Scener ur ett äktenskap/Scenes from a Marriage [Ingmar Bergman] 6-part miniseries/16mm; also released theatrically (168m/35bu)

1972

Strohfeuer/A Free Woman/Summer Lightning [Volker Schlöndorff] tvm

1973

Das Blaue Hotel [Stanislav Barabas] tvm

1974

Trollflöjten/The Magic Flute [Ingmar Bergman] opera/16mm; also released theatrically (35bu); + small part

1974

Les raisons de Georgina/Georginas Gründe [Volker Schlöndorff] seg of 5-part miniseries 'Nouvelles de Henry James'; other seg ph by Bruno Nuytten, Jean Rabier, a.o.

1975

Ansikte mot ansikte/Face to Face [Ingmar Bergman] 4-part miniseries (177m); also released theatrically (114m)

1976

Vårbrytning [Erland Josephson] tvm

1981

Ingrid Bergman [Gunnel Broström] interview/?m

1981

Fanny och Alexander/Fanny and Alexander [Ingmar Bergman] 4-part miniseries (312m); 2uc: Tony Forsberg; also released theatrically (188m [1982] & 312m [1983])

1982

La tragédie de Carmen [Peter Brook] tvm/16mm

 

[Left] with Lena Olin, Erland Josephson and Ingmar Bergman - "Efter repetitionen"

 

1983

Efter repetitionen/After the Rehearsal [Ingmar Bergman] tvm

1985

Nobody's Child [Lee Grant] tvm

1996

Enskilda samtal/Private Confessions/Private Conversations [Liv Ullmann] tvm

 

 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT

1941

En fattig miljonär/A Poor Millionaire [Lennart & Sigurd Wallén] co-c.asst; ph: Hilding Bladh & Evert Löfstedt

1942

General von Döbeln [Olof Molander] ph: Hilding Bladh

 

 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1948

I fetischmannens spår/In the Footsteps of the Witch Doctor/In the Footsteps of the Magician [+ ph] see Films

1950

Bisi Congo [+ ph] see Films

1952

Under Södra korset/Under the Southern Cross [co-d; + ph] see Films

1952

Vördnad för livet/Respect for Life [+ scrpl/ph] see Films

1965

Lianbron/The Vine Bridge [+ ph] see Films

1974

Kallelsen/The Vocation [short] ph: ?

1977

En och en/One and One [co-d; + co-prod/ph] see Films

1991

Oxen/The Ox [+ co-scrpl/ph] see Films