Sven Vilhelm Nykvist (1922 - 2006)

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Sven Nykvist
Born Sven Vilhem Nykvist
3 December 1922
Moheda, Kronobergs län, Sweden
Died 20 September 2006 (aged 83)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Occupation Cinematographer
Spouse(s) Ulla Söderlind (m. 1952–1968)
Ulrika Nykvist
Children Carl-Gustaf Nykvist
Sven Vilhem Nykvist (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈsvɛnː ˈvɪlːhɛlm ²nyːkvɪst]) (3 December 1922 – 20 September 2006) was a Swedish cinematographer. He worked on over 120 films, but is known especially for his work with director Ingmar Bergman. He won Academy Awards for his work on two Bergman films, Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop) in 1973 and Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) in 1983, and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
His work is generally noted for its naturalism and simplicity. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest cinematographers of all time. In 2003, Nykvist was judged one of history's ten most influential cinematographers in a survey conducted by the International Cinematographers Guild.
Life and career
Nykvist was born in Moheda, Kronobergs län, Sweden. His parents were Lutheran missionaries who spent most of their lives in the Belgian Congo, so Nykvist was raised by relatives in Sweden and saw his parents rarely. His father was a keen amateur photographer of African wildlife, whose activities may have sparked Nykvist's interest in the visual arts.
A talented athlete in his youth, Nykvist's first cinematic effort was to film himself taking a high jump, to improve his jumping technique. After a year at the Municipal School for Photographers in Stockholm, he entered the Swedish film industry at the age of 19.
In 1941, he became an assistant cameraman at Sandrews studio, working on The Poor Millionaire. He moved to Italy in 1943 to work at Cinecittà Studios, returning to Sweden two years later. In 1945, aged 23, he became a full-fledged cinematographer, with his first solo credit on The Children from Frostmo Mountain.
He worked on many small Swedish films for the next few years, and spent some time with his parents in Africa filming wildlife, footage which was later released as a documentary entitled In the Footsteps of the Witch Doctor (also known as Under the Southern Cross).
Back in Sweden, he began to work with the director Ingmar Bergman on Sawdust and Tinsel (US: The Naked Night, 1953). He was one of three cinematographers to work on the film, the others being Gunnar Fischer and Hilding Bladh.
Sven Nykvist with director Ingmar Bergman during the production of Through a Glass Darkly, 1960
Nykvist would eventually become Bergman's regular cinematographer. He worked as sole cameraman on Bergman's Oscar-winning films The Virgin Spring (1959) and Through a Glass Darkly (1960). He revolutionised the way faces are shot in close-up with Bergman's psychologic drama Persona (1966).
After working with other Swedish directors, including Alf Sjöberg on The Judge (1960) and Mai Zetterling on Loving Couples (1964), he then worked in the United States and elsewhere, on: Richard Fleischer's The Last Run (1971); Louis Malle's Black Moon (1975) and Pretty Baby (1978); Roman Polanski's The Tenant (1976); Jan Troell's Hurricane (1979); Bob Rafelson's version of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981); Agnes of God (1985); Woody Allen's Another Woman (1988) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989); Richard Attenborough's Chaplin (1992); Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993); and Lasse Hallström's What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).
Nykvist won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for two of his films: Cries and Whispers (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982), both of which were Bergman films. At the 9th Guldbagge Awards in 1973 he won the Special Achievement award for his work on Cries and Whispers.[4] He was also nominated for a Cinematography Oscar for The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and in the category of Best Foreign Language Film for The Ox (1991), in which he directed Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann.
Nykvist won a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his work on The Sacrifice (1986), the last film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, who by then was in exile from his native Russia. He was the first European cinematographer to join the American Society of Cinematographers, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASC in 1996.[5]

His ex-wife, Ulrika, died in 1982. Nykvist's career was brought to a sudden end in 1998 when he was diagnosed with aphasia; he died in 2006, aged 83. He wrote three books, including Curtain Call published in 1999.
He is survived by his son, Carl-Gustaf Nykvist, who directed his first film, Woman on the Roof, in 1989 and directed a documentary about his father, Light Keeps Me Company, 1999.
Selected filmography
Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)
Laughing in the Sunshine (1956)
The Virgin Spring (1960) (Jungfrukällan)
Through a Glass Darkly (1961) (Såsom i en spegel)
Winter Light (1963) (Nattvardsgästerna)
The Silence (1963) (Tystnaden)
Persona (1966)
Shame (1968) (Skammen)
Hour of the Wolf (1968) (Vargtimmen)
The Passion of Anna (1969) (En Passion)
The Touch (1971) (Beröringen)
The Last Run (1971)
Siddhartha (1972), from the Hermann Hesse novel, directed by Conrad Rooks
Cries and Whispers (1973) (Viskningar och rop) (won Academy Award for Best Cinematography)
Scenes from a Marriage (1973) (Scener ur ett äktenskap)
The Dove (1974)
Black Moon (1975) directed by Louis Malle
The Magic Flute (1975) (Trollflöjten)
The Tenant (1976) ( Le Locataire) directed by Roman Polanski
Face to Face (1976) directed by Ingmar Bergman
The Serpent's Egg (1977) (Das Schlangenei)
Autumn Sonata (1978) (Höstsonaten)
Pretty Baby (1978)
Starting Over (1979)
Marmalade Revolution (1980)
From the Life of the Marionettes (1980) (Aus dem Leben der Marionetten)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
Fanny and Alexander (1982) (Fanny och Alexander) (won Academy Award for Best Cinematography)
Star 80 (1983)
Agnes of God (1985)
The Sacrifice (1986)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) (nominated for Academy Award for Best Cinematography)
New York Stories (1989) (segment "Oedipus Wrecks")
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Buster's Bedroom (1990)
The Ox (1991)
Chaplin (1992)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Something to Talk About (1995)
Celebrity (1998)

Sven Vilhelm Nykvist Biography & Family History

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Birth

in Moheda, Kronoberg County Sweden

Death

on in Stockholm, Stockholm County Sweden

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Vilhelm

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Timeline

1922 - In the year that Sven Vilhelm Nykvist was born, from October 22nd - 29th, 3,000 men of Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party marched on Rome. (Mussolini waited in Milan, he did not participate in the March.) The day after the March Mussolini went to Rome and the King of Italy handed over power to Mussolini, in part because he was supported by the military, the business class, and the right-wing factions of Italy.

1946 - At the age of 24 years old, Sven was alive when pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock's book "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" was published. It sold half a million copies in the first six months. Aside from the Bible, it became the best selling book of the 20th century. A generation of Baby Boomers were raised by the advice of Dr. Spock.

1970 - By the time he was 48 years old, on April 10th, Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles. (John Lennon had previously told the band that he was leaving but hadn't publicly announced it.) By the end of the year, each Beatle had his own album.

1972 - He was 50 years old when on November 7th, Richard Nixon won re-election, amidst the dawning knowledge of the Watergate scandal, by 60.7% to anti-war candidate George McGovern's 37.5%.

1989 - By the time he was 67 years old, on March 24th, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker, struck a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound and oil began spilling out of the hold. The oil would eventually contaminate more than a thousand miles of coastline. It is estimated that over 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Sound - killing 100,000 to 250,000 seabirds, over 2,800 sea otters, about 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 247 bald eagles, and 22 orcas - as well as an unknown number of salmon and herring.

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Obituary

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Sven Nykvist, 83, a Master of Light in Films, Dies
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
SEPT. 21, 2006

Sven Nykvist, one of the world’s foremost cinematographers, whose poetic use of light illuminated many of Ingmar Bergman’s greatest films, died yesterday in Sweden after a long illness.

He was 83 and was living at a nursing home where he was being treated for aphasia, a symptom of dementia, said his son, Carl-Gustaf Nykvist.

Mr. Nykvist, who won two Academy Awards for best cinematography with the Bergman films “Cries and Whispers” (1972) and “Fanny and Alexander” (1982) and an Oscar nomination for best cinematography for “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988), pioneered the expressive use of naturalistic light in filmmaking.
“I was fortunate to work with Ingmar,” he said in 1995. “One of the things we believed was that a picture shouldn’t look lit. Whenever possible, I lit with one source and avoided creating double shadows, because that pointed to the photography.”
In his films, especially those with Mr. Bergman, light assumed a metaphysical dimension that went beyond mood. It distilled and deepened the feelings of torment and spiritual separation that afflicted Bergman characters. But in scenes of tranquillity filmed outdoors, the light might also evoke glimpses of transcendence. The sumptuous scenes of a Scandinavian Christmas in “Fanny and Alexander” burst with warmth and a magical, childlike joy.
Like Mr. Bergman, Mr. Nykvist, who was born Sven Vilhem Nykvist in Moheda, Sweden, in 1922, was a minister’s son. His parents were Lutheran missionaries in the Belgian Congo, and in their absence, he was brought up by strict relatives. But from the age of 10, when his parents returned from Africa, he lived with them on the outskirts of Stockholm.
Although he was seldom allowed to go to the movies, he was fascinated by his father’s large collection of slides and photos taken in Africa. At 15 he bought his first eight-millimeter camera, and in 1941, he got his first job in the movies, as an assistant cameraman. He made his debut as a principal cinematographer in 1945 and over the next decade filmed 30 features with various Swedish directors. In 1952, Mr. Nykvist was the co-director and co-cinematographer of “Under the Southern Cross,” a film produced in the Belgian Congo, based on his parents’ experience with a witch doctor. He also made a documentary about Albert Schweitzer in Africa.
He was 30 and Mr. Bergman 34 when Mr. Nykvist was called in to shoot the interiors of the Bergman film “Sawdust and Tinsel” (released in the United States as “The Naked Night”) in 1953. The director, though impressed, continued working with his regular cinematographer, Gunnar Fischer, for several more years, until “The Virgin Spring” in 1960, after which Mr. Nykvist remained Mr. Bergman’s cinematographer of choice.
“Through a Glass Darkly,” “Winter Light,” “The Silence,” “Persona,” “Hour of the Wolf,” “Cries and Whispers,” “Scenes From a Marriage” and “Fanny and Alexander” are among the masterpieces that followed, in which Mr. Nykvist became the director’s second pair of eyes.
“Winter Light,” Mr. Nykvist later said, was one of the first films in which he deliberately set out to explore the expressive qualities of light. Its visual atmosphere was inspired by his experience of sitting with the director in a church all day and studying the play of light on the walls and windows.
After winning an Oscar for “Cries and Whispers,” Mr. Nykvist found himself increasingly in demand outside Sweden. Among the directors with whom he collaborated were Louis Malle (“Pretty Baby”), Philip Kaufman (“The Unbearable Lightness of Being”), Bob Fosse (“Star 80”), Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”), Woody Allen (“Another Woman,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Celebrity”), Richard Attenborough (“Chaplin”) and his fellow Swede Lasse Hallstrom (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”). He became the first European cinematographer accepted into the American Society of Cinematographers.
During the 1990’s, Mr. Nykvist was also the cameraman for the directorial debuts of Swedish actors and Bergman regulars Erland Josephson and Max von Sydow. And in 1991, he directed his own feature film, “Oxen,” starring Mr. von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, which was nominated for best foreign language film in 1992.
His wife, Ulrika, died in 1982. In addition to his son, he is survived by his daughter-in-law, Helen Berlin, and two grandchildren.
He retired after his aphasia was diagnosed in 1998, having worked on more than 120 films. His final one was “Curtain Call” in 1999. The next year, Carl-Gustaf Nykvist made a documentary about his father, “Light Keeps Me Company.”

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