skip navigation
Sven Nykvist

Sven Nykvist

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Sven Nykvist - NOT AVAILABLE

Find what your looking for faster use the search field below to shop for titles.

SEARCH TCM.COM/SHOP


OR ... Click here to VOTE > for this person to be released on Home Video

Also Known As: Died: September 20, 2006
Born: December 3, 1922 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Sweden Profession: director of photography, director, producer, assistant cameraman, focus puller

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A master of natural lighting, Swedish cameraman Sven Nykvist found his artistic soul mate in Ingmar Bergman, collaborating with the great writer-director on more than 20 projects. Nykvist's parents, Lutheran missionaries in the Congo, had left him and his siblings to be raised by relatives in Stockholm, and the sense of detachment created by their long absences helped prepare him for his long association with Bergman and the themes of alienation and isolation that captivated them both. Deciding early on a career as a cinematographer, Nykvist attended a photography school (there were no Swedish film schools then) and began working at Sandrews studios as a camera assistant in 1941, hoping to emulate the great Swedish cameramen Julius Jaenzon, Goran Strindberg and Gunnar Fischer. He graduated to director of photography on "13 Chairs" (1945), helmed the documentary "Reverence for Life" (1952, about Albert Schweitzer) and even co-directed and co-scripted "Under the Southern Cross" (also 1952), based on an experience his parents had with a witch doctor, before teaming with Bergman (himself the son of a Lutheran minister) for the first time.

A master of natural lighting, Swedish cameraman Sven Nykvist found his artistic soul mate in Ingmar Bergman, collaborating with the great writer-director on more than 20 projects. Nykvist's parents, Lutheran missionaries in the Congo, had left him and his siblings to be raised by relatives in Stockholm, and the sense of detachment created by their long absences helped prepare him for his long association with Bergman and the themes of alienation and isolation that captivated them both. Deciding early on a career as a cinematographer, Nykvist attended a photography school (there were no Swedish film schools then) and began working at Sandrews studios as a camera assistant in 1941, hoping to emulate the great Swedish cameramen Julius Jaenzon, Goran Strindberg and Gunnar Fischer. He graduated to director of photography on "13 Chairs" (1945), helmed the documentary "Reverence for Life" (1952, about Albert Schweitzer) and even co-directed and co-scripted "Under the Southern Cross" (also 1952), based on an experience his parents had with a witch doctor, before teaming with Bergman (himself the son of a Lutheran minister) for the first time.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Ox, The (1991) Director
2.
  Marmeladupproret (1980) Director
3.
  En och En (1978) Director
4.
  Gorilla (1964) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised by relatives in Stockholm and rarely saw his missionary parents until he was 13 years old
1935:
Parents returned to Sweden
:
Saved money delivering newspapers to purchase a Keystone 8mm film camera with slow motion; used camera to film athletes during competition
1941:
Began career as a focus puller at Sandrews studios, progressing to camera assistant
1943:
Shared cinematography duties on "I morkaste Smaland"
1943:
Worked as camera assistant and interpreter for directors Mario Soldati and Franco Vigni in Cinecitta, Rome
1945:
First film as director of photography, "13 Chairs"
1952:
Directed "Reverence for Life", a documentary about Albert Schweitzer
1952:
Co-directed and co-wrote (as well as sharing cinematography duties) "Under the Southern Cross", a narrative film produced in the Belgian Congo and based on an experience his parents had with a witch doctor
1953:
First worked with Ingmar Bergman filming the interior scenes of "Sawdust and Tinsel"
1956:
Co-directed, with Lars Henrik Ottoson, the feature film "Gorilla"
1960:
First full collaboration with Bergman, "The Virgin Spring"; would succeed Gunnar Fischer as Bergman's regular cinematographer
1960:
Earliest US work, handling the cinematography on the US-Swedish co-production "A Matter of Morals", directed by John Cromwell
1963:
First time shooting in color for Bergman, "All These Women"
1965:
First solo directorial feature, "The Vine Bridge"; also photographed
1972:
Provided dazzling, on-location shooting for Conrad Rooks' film version of "Siddhartha"
1972:
Worked with Bergman on the Swedish TV miniseries, "Scenes from a Marriage", eventually blown up from 16mm to 35mm for abridged 1974 feature release
1973:
Received first Oscar for cinematography on Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" (released in 1972)
1974:
Helmed "The Vocation", a documentary about his father's work in the Congo
1975:
Served as director of photography on Louis Malle's "Black Moon"
1978:
Reteamed with Malle on "Pretty Baby"
1978:
Co-directed (with Bergman regular Erland Josephson), "One and One"; also co-produced with Josephson and handled the camera work
1979:
First collaboration with director Alan J Pakula, "Starting Over"
1980:
Reteamed with Josephson as co-directors and co-producers of "Marmeladupproret"; also served as director of photography
1983:
Earned second Oscar for Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (released in 1982)
1984:
Last collaboration with Bergman as director, "After the Rehearsal"
1985:
Teamed with director Norman Jewison on "Agnes of God"
1986:
Honored at Cannes for the cinematography of Andrei Tarkovsky's last film, "The Sacrifice"
1986:
Reteamed with Pakula for "Dream Lover"
1986:
First American TV-movie, "Nobody's Child" (CBS), directed by Lee Grant
1988:
Garnered Oscar nomination for cinematography for Philip Kaufman's "The Incredible Lightness of Being", adapted from the novel by Milan Kundera
1988:
Initial collaboration as director of photography with director Woody Allen, the Bergmanesque "Another Woman"
1989:
Reteamed with Allen for the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of "New York Stories" and the feature "Crimes and Misdemeanors"
1990:
Served on the jury of the 43rd Cannes Film Festival
1991:
Resumed his association with Bergman on "Best Intentions", directed by Billie August from Bergman's screenplay
1991:
Earned critical acclaim for helming "The Ox" (which he also co-scripted), a compelling chronicle of a desperately poor family's struggle to survive in famine-ravaged Sweden during the mid-1800s; film received a Best Foreign-Language Film Academy Award nomination
1993:
First film with director Lasse Hallstrom, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"
1994:
Reteamed with Jewison on "Only You"
1995:
Second collaboration with Hallstrom, "Something to Talk About"
1995:
First film with Liv Ullmann as a director, "Kristin Lavransdatter"; Ullmann also scripted
1997:
Reteamed with Ullman for "Private Confessions", working from a Bergman screenplay
1998:
Worked as director of photography on Allen's "Celebrity"; diagnosed with an ailment that impeded his speech, retired after production was completed; fourth collaboration with Allen
2000:
Profiled in the documentary "Light Keeps Me Company", directed and produced by his son Carl-Gustav Nykvist; shared cinematography credit with son and others; though unable to work as a cinematographer for hire, the picture showed him still loading his Arriflex camera, still reveling in the light
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Stockholm Municipal School for Photographers: -

Notes

In April 1991, he was given the Ingmar Bergman Award from the American-Scandinavian Foundation in recognition of "the enduring cultural legacy that the five Nordic countries have given the United States".

Regarding his working method with Ingmar Bergman: "We make a lot of tests before we start to shoot. We begin by meeting and discussing the script. Everything is tested; if a man appears with a tie which has a color we haven't seen, we don't use it. The test period on 'The Magic Flute' involved using twice the film we used in shooting the whole picture. It took two months. It's very good, because when you start to shoot you know how it comes out, and you don't have any bad surprises. It also helps the actual shooting of the film go faster. We used to prepare for two months; now I start about a month before the film actually begins." --Sven Nykvist to Robert Avrech and Larry Gross in Millimeter, July-August 1976.

On his collaborations with Nykvist: "We work very well together. He's sweet, calm, quiet and very fast--and I don't mean that in any sense of compromise. He worked well for me because I'm spontaneous and he's spontaneous. He can suddenly see something, adapt and get it done beautifully.

"I regret never getting the chance to work in black and white with Sven. But I wouldn't necessarily limit working with him to a certain type of subject matter. The most fun I had with him was 'Another Woman'. 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' was photographically realistic. And 'Oedipus Wrecks' was, of course, a cartoon. 'Another Woman' was not realism, but poetry--and that's hitting Sven where he lives." --Woody Allen to Gregory Solman in Daily Variety, February 23, 1996. [Editor's note: Allen did get to work with Nykvist in black and white on the cinematographer's final film, 1998's "Celebrity"]

"The most important task of the cinematographer is to create an atmosphere. To interpret the mood and feeling the director wants to convey. I mostly perform this task by using very little light and very little color. There is a saying that a good script tells you what is being done and what is being said, but not what someone thinks or feels, and there is some truth in that. Images, not words, capture feelings in faces and atmospheres and I have realized that there is nothing that can ruin the atmosphere as easily as too much light. My striving for simplicity derives from my striving for the local light, the true light." --Nykvist to MovieMaker, June-July, 1998

"It was with 'Through a Glass Darkly' in 1961, that our collaboration started for real. I don't miss making films, but I miss the collaboration with Sven." --Ingmar Bergman quoted in the documentary "Light Keeps Me Company"

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Mia Farrow. Actor. Had relationship in the late 1970s; met during the filming of "The Hurricane" (1979).

Family close complete family listing

father:
Gustav Nathanael Nykvist. Lutheran missionary. Spent 30 years in the Congo.
mother:
Gerda Emilia Nykvist. Lutheran missionary.
son:
Carl-Gustav Nykvist. Director, screenwriter. Born in 1953; directed first feature length film, "Women on the Roof" (1989); credited as Charlie Nykvist on films with father as camera assistant.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Resan till Lambarene/Journey to Lambarene"

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute