Sven Nykvist RIP

The great Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist has passed away at the age of 83.

Mattias Karen of the AP reports:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Oscar-winning filmmaker Sven Nykvist, who was legendary director Ingmar Bergman’s cinematographer of choice, died Wednesday after a long illness, his son said. He was 83.

Nykvist died at a nursing home where he was being treated for aphasia, a form of dementia, said his son, Carl-Gustaf Nykvist.

Nykvist won Academy Awards for best cinematography for the Bergman films “Cries and Whispers” in 1973 and “Fanny and Alexander” in 1982.

Nykvist’s sense of lighting and camera work made him a favorite of Bergman’s after their first collaboration on the 1954 movie “Sawdust and Tinsel,” which began a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.

His work on films such as Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence and Persona added a rich mood and tone which was unmistakable and gave much of Bergman’s work its signature look and feel.

But perhaps the film that stands out most for me is Cries and Whispers. The striking use of colour (in stark contrast to the black and white of his earlier work with Bergman) stays with you long after that remarkable film has ended. It is still a film I would urge anyone to see.

Later in his career he worked with Bergman disciple Woody Allen on Crimes and Misdemeanors (arguably Allen’s last truly great film) and on Lasse Hallestrom’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

But it is his collaborations with the Swedish maestro which he will be remembered for. As Gary Morris of the Bright Lights Film Journal has noted it was:

…one of the key collaborations in modern cinema.

Of that there can be no doubt.

> AP news report on the death of Sven Nykvist
> Sven Nykvist at the IMDb
> Wikipedia entry for Ingmar Bergman
> Article on Nykvist’s contribution to Bergman’s work at Ingmar Bergman Face to Face
> Peter Cowie’s essay on Cries and Whispers at the Criterion Collection
> Movie Masterworks on Persona