Sven Nykvist


Director Of Photography
Sven Nykvist

About

Birth Place
Sweden
Born
December 03, 1922
Died
September 20, 2006

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...

Family & Companions

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

Bibliography

"Resan till Lambarene/Journey to Lambarene"
Sven Nykvist (1959)

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.

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.

Nykvist shared credit for the cinematography of Bergman's "Gycklarnas Afton/Sawdust and Tinsel" (1953) with his former teacher, Hilding Bladf, who assigned him the difficult interior shots as a final test of his skill. Six years later when the director's regular cinematographer Gunnar Fischer went to Northern Sweden to work on a Walt Disney production, Bergman chose Nykvist to light and shoot "The Virgin Spring" (1960), a stark medieval allegory for which he made virtuoso use of the luminous Nordic light at dawn and dusk. The first of Bergman's films to receive the Oscar as Best Foreign Film, it established Nykvist on the international scene, and the two subsequently cemented their partnership on the director's "metaphysical" trilogy ("Through a Glass Darkly" 1961, "Winter Light" 1963, "The Silence" 1963). Shot on the remote island of Faro in the Baltic, where Bergman had moved in the early 60s, these intimate "chamber" films possessed a unity of action, place and time. In each a few people in a main setting interacted chiefly during one day, and Nykvist, seizing on the special quality of the landscape and continuing his exploration of twilight ("the magic hour"), realized Bergman's psychological moods in his camerawork.

Nurturing a storytelling style reminiscent of silent films, Nykvist and Bergman relied on images rather than words, with Nykvist pioneering the use of minimal, soft light and non-intrusive camerawork, "taking away all the distracting things and being close to the actors. There is nothing more beautiful than faces in a very simple room." (Daily Variety, February 23, 1996) Always striving for simplicity led to the long static takes of "Winter Light," and the two would continue to expand on this technique in movies like "Scenes from a Marriage" (1974), with some of the uninterrupted shots lasting 10 minutes. Together with Bergman, he redefined how the human face is observed in movies, favoring a soft "bounce" lighting to contour and flatter an actor's face and making sure "the audience can see what's behind each character's eyes." Their groundbreaking use of gigantic close-ups in the haunting, poetic "Persona" (1966) added another level of complexity to the remarkable performances of Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson as two characters who ultimately exchange minds and personalities. The director and cinematographer would feature such close-ups again, perhaps most notably in the acclaimed "Cries and Whispers" (1972), which set a new standard, even among that period's almost yearly innovations in natural lighting.

Although Nykvist's black-and-white work with Bergman may seem more compelling, he did come to master color in his later years, despite having a bad experience the first time out on Bergman's "All These Women" (1963). Prior to shooting, Nykvist exposed 18,000 feet of Eastmancolor stock in order to get a handle on the new technology, but both were dissatisfied with the final outcome, citing a lack of atmosphere and excessive lighting. Plunging into color again, they worked with very little light on "En Passion/The Passion of Anna" (1969), achieving the minimum color saturation and muted tones which would become a Nykvist trademark. Throughout his collaboration with Bergman, he continued to light the sets and work the camera himself, always opting to manipulate the light itself or choose the exact hour of the day to shoot rather than relying on laboratory filters and lenses. In the prologue to "Cries and Whispers," his camera gazes at various parkland vistas in a misty dawn, but to achieve the desired look required many reshoots before the morning light was just right. Such attention to detail helped earn him his first Oscar for the cinematography of that film, distinguished by its incredible variations on a single color--red.

When Swedish TV commissioned Bergman to make a six-part drama series, "Scenes From a Marriage," Nykvist shot in 16mm, never expecting the subsequent demand for a theatrical version blown up to 35mm. The resulting grainy, intimate quality worked well for that picture, but in their future small screen work, he had the difficult task of planning for the different ratios of the various formats (1:33 for TV; 1:66 for European cinema, 1:85 in America). Deciding to prioritize the film version, he lighted for film and allowed a little more contrast, then worked more on the print for television, a compromise he didn't enjoy, preferring to shoot for a specific medium. Remaining loyal to Bergman during the dark years of his friend's exile in Munich, following a taxation scandal, Nykvist shot "The Serpent's Egg" (1977), which reflected the director's turmoil in its nightmarish atmosphere of Germany in 1923; "Autumn Sonata" (1978), a "chamber" film starring Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman; and "From the Life of the Marionettes" (1980), filmed primarily in black and white. For Bergman's announced swan song (he would subsequently direct the Swedish TV production "After the Rehearsal" in 1984), Nykvist was equal to the task, winning his second Oscar for the exuberant color cinematography of "Fanny and Alexander" (1982), an autobiographical look at turn-of-the-century Sweden through the eyes of a young boy.

While Nykvist is most often connected with Bergman, he worked with other Scandinavian directors such as Arne Mattsson and Gunnar Hellstrom in the 1950s and Vilgot Sjoman, Mai Zetterling and Jorn Donner in the 60s. In the 70s and 80s, Nykvist shot films for a variety of international directors, including Roman Polanski ("The Tenant" 1976), Louis Malle ("Black Moon" 1975; "Pretty Baby" 1978), Volker Schlondorff ("Summer Lightning" 1972; "Swann in Love" 1984) and Andrei Tarkovsky ("The Sacrifice" 1986 for which he won a prize at Cannes). He began collaborating regularly with American filmmakers in the late 1970s and by the mid-80s was filming more in Hollywood than abroad. As usual, directors called for encores, and he reteamed with the likes of Alan Pakula ("Starting Over" 1979; "Dream Lover" 1986), Norman Jewison ("Agnes of God" 1985; "Just in Time" 1994) and Nora Ephron ("Sleepless in Seattle" 1993; "Mixed Nuts" 1994). Arguably his greatest work outside the Bergman canon came on Philip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (1986), which earned him a third Oscar nomination while employing frequent Bergman players Lena Olin and Erland Josephson. In addition to his trademark muted colors, Nykvist contributed memorably to the black-and-white recreation of the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, matching it to the actual newsreel footage and amazing Kaufman by shooting 74 setups on one day.

Profoundly influenced by Bergman's work, Woody Allen tapped Nykvist for the Bergmanesque "Another Woman" (1988) and also worked with him on "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of "New York Stories" (both 1989). The cinematographer began returning more frequently to Scandinavia in the 90s, teaming with Danish filmmaker Bille August on the Bergman-scripted "Best Intentions" and helming his second feature the Oscar-nominated "The Ox" (both 1991). Where his first solo effort, "The Vine Bridge" (1965), had drawn from elements of his life as a child of missionaries, he now depicted a period from his native Sweden's past, receiving international acclaim for the somber but potent drama about a man who betrays his community during a time of famine. Nykvist combined a bit of both worlds when he worked with Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom on Hollywood's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993) and the follow-up "Something to Talk About" (1995). Back in Norway that year for Liv Ullmann's "Kristin Lavransdatter," he later reteamed with her on "Private Confessions" (1997), also scripted by Bergman.

After shooting "Celebrity" (1998) for Allen, Nykvist discovered he had a progressive form of dementia including aphasia, an inability to use words in their correct order, which forced him into early retirement. His influence on contemporary filmmaking is immense, and the documentary "Light Keeps Me Company" (2000), a multi-layered portrait of the legendary director of photography by his filmmaker son Carl-Gustav Nykvist, is essential viewing for anyone interested in the making of quality films. The film consists of interviews with people with whom Nykvist worked and clips and stills from his films, accompanied by quotes from Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha," a major influence on his life (he vividly lensed the film version in 1972). It also possessed added potency as the tale of a son reaching out to the father who abandoned him in favor of working abroad. Whether transforming Bergman's grim Nordic nightmares into classic films noted for their compositions and subtle lighting or creating the very American look of Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle," Nykvist was never showy or idiosyncratic. One of his unerring signatures remained his ability to serve the material.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Ox (1991)
Director
Marmeladupproret (1980)
Director
En och En (1978)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Himself

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Ljuset Haller Mig Sallskap (2000)
Cinematographer
Curtain Call (1998)
Director Of Photography
Celebrity (1998)
Director Of Photography
Private Confessions (1997)
Director Of Photography
Something to Talk About (1995)
Director Of Photography
Kristin Lavransdatter (1995)
Director Of Photography
With Honors (1994)
Director Of Photography
Only You (1994)
Director Of Photography
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Director Of Photography
Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Director Of Photography
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Director Of Photography
Chaplin (1992)
Director Of Photography
Buster's Bedroom (1990)
Director Of Photography
Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)
Director Of Photography
New York Stories (1989)
Director Of Photography
Katinka (1988)
Director Of Photography
Another Woman (1988)
Director Of Photography
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Director Of Photography
The Sacrifice (1986)
Director Of Photography
Dream Lover (1986)
Director Of Photography
Nobody's Child (1986)
Director Of Photography
Agnes Of God (1985)
Director Of Photography
Swann in Love (1984)
Director Of Photography
After The Rehearsal (1984)
Director Of Photography
Star 80 (1983)
Director Of Photography
La Tragedie de Carmen (1983)
Director Of Photography
Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Director Of Photography
Cannery Row (1982)
Director Of Photography
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
Director Of Photography
Marmeladupproret (1980)
Director Of Photography
From the Life of the Marionettes (1980)
Director Of Photography
Willie & Phil (1980)
Director Of Photography
Hurricane (1979)
Director Of Photography
Starting Over (1979)
Director Of Photography
King Of The Gypsies (1978)
Director Of Photography
Autumn Sonata (1978)
Director Of Photography
Pretty Baby (1978)
Director Of Photography
En och En (1978)
Camera
The Serpent's Egg (1977)
Director Of Photography
Ansikte mot ansikte (1976)
Director Of Photography
The Tenant (1976)
Director Of Photography
Black Moon (1975)
Director Of Photography
Monismanien 1995 (1975)
Camera
Magic Flute (1975)
Director Of Photography
Ransom (1974)
Director Of Photography
The Dove (1974)
Director Of Photography
Scenes From a Marriage (1973)
Director Of Photography
Siddhartha (1972)
Director Of Photography
Strohfeuer (1972)
Director Of Photography
Cries and Whispers (1972)
Director Of Photography
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1971)
Director of Photography
The Touch (1971)
Director of Photography
The Last Run (1971)
Director of Photography
The Passion of Anna (1970)
Director of Photography
The Ritual (1970)
Director of Photography
First Love (1970)
Director of Photography
Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Director of Photography
Shame (1968)
Director of Photography
Persona (1967)
Director of Photography
Loving Couples (1966)
Director of Photography
To Love (1964)
Director of Photography
The Silence (1964)
Director of Photography
All These Women (1964)
Director of Photography
Winter Light (1963)
Director of Photography
Through a Glass Darkly (1962)
Director of Photography
Make Way for Lila (1962)
Director of Photography
A Matter of Morals (1961)
Director of Photography
The Virgin Spring (1960)
Director Of Photography

Writer (Feature Film)

The Ox (1991)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Marmeladupproret (1980)
Producer
En och En (1978)
Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Celebrity (1998)
Other
Private Confessions (1997)
Other
Something to Talk About (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
Kristin Lavransdatter (1995)
Other
Only You (1994)
Other
Mixed Nuts (1994)
Dp/Cinematographer
Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Dp/Cinematographer
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Other
Buster's Bedroom (1990)
Other
Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Dp/Cinematographer
Another Woman (1988)
Other
The Sacrifice (1986)
Other
Agnes Of God (1985)
Other
After The Rehearsal (1984)
Other
Star 80 (1983)
Other
Cannery Row (1982)
Other
Cannery Row (1982)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
Dp/Cinematographer
From the Life of the Marionettes (1980)
Other
Autumn Sonata (1978)
Dp/Cinematographer
Pretty Baby (1978)
Other
Ansikte mot ansikte (1976)
Other
Black Moon (1975)
Dp/Cinematographer
Magic Flute (1975)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Dove (1974)
Other
Scenes From a Marriage (1973)
Dp/Cinematographer
Siddhartha (1972)
Other

Director (Special)

Gorilla (1964)
Director

Cinematography (Special)

Life's Greatest Miracle (2001)
Director Of Photography
Gorilla (1964)
Director of Photography

Life Events

1935

Parents returned to Sweden

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

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

1952

Directed "Reverence for Life", a documentary about Albert Schweitzer

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

Worked with Bergman on the Swedish TV miniseries, "Scenes from a Marriage", eventually blown up from 16mm to 35mm for abridged 1974 feature release

1972

Provided dazzling, on-location shooting for Conrad Rooks' film version of "Siddhartha"

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

Co-directed (with Bergman regular Erland Josephson), "One and One"; also co-produced with Josephson and handled the camera work

1978

Reteamed with Malle on "Pretty Baby"

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

First American TV-movie, "Nobody's Child" (CBS), directed by Lee Grant

1986

Reteamed with Pakula for "Dream Lover"

1986

Honored at Cannes for the cinematography of Andrei Tarkovsky's last film, "The Sacrifice"

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

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

1991

Resumed his association with Bergman on "Best Intentions", directed by Billie August from Bergman's screenplay

1993

First film with director Lasse Hallstrom, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"

1994

Reteamed with Jewison on "Only You"

1995

First film with Liv Ullmann as a director, "Kristin Lavransdatter"; Ullmann also scripted

1995

Second collaboration with Hallstrom, "Something to Talk About"

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

Videos

Movie Clip

Loving Couples (1964) — (Movie Clip) Men Always Let You Down Part of the second extended flashback montage by director Mai Zetterling, on each of three pregnant woman characters, this one for servant’s-wife Adele (Gunnel Lindblom) whose child is expected to be stillborn, recalling childhood misfortune in turn-of-the-century Sweden, Rebecca Pawlo her younger self, in Loving Couples, 1964.
Loving Couples (1964) — (Movie Clip) Open, Remember It’s Our Child Zero sugar coating, established Swedish actress Mai Zetterling opening the first of seven features she directed, a harsh sound environment, a maternity hospital ca. 1915, introducing Gio Petré as Angela, Anita Björk her escort, Gunnar Björnstrand her physician, in the acclaimed Loving Couples, 1964.
Loving Couples (1964) — (Movie Clip) Beware Of Women Introducing the third expectant mom at a pre-WWI Swedish hospital, Harriet Andersson as Agda in a reckless attempt to induce labor while the head doctor Lewin (Gunnar Björnstrand) muses contemptible attitudes to junior colleague Sam (Henrik Schildt), first-time director Mai Zetterling working from her script co-written with husband David Hughes, in Loving Couples, 1964.
Virgin Spring, The - Odin, Come To My Aid! Contrasting faiths in one household, stepdaughter Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom) summoning a Norse god, parents Tore (Max von Sydow) and Mareta (Birgitta Valberg) a Christian one, opening Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, 1960.
Virgin Spring, The (1960) - Three Brothers Innocent Karin (Brigitta Pettersson) on her way to church through the medieval Swedish woods, meets the goat-herds (Axel Duberg, Tor Isedal, Ove Porath), things not looking good, in Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, 1960.
The Virgin Spring (1960) — (Movie Clip) She Lay Dead Max Von Sydow as stern feudal farmer Torè awaits his daughter, late from delivering candles to their church, not knowing she’s been raped and murdered by the nastiest of three goat-herders (Tore Isedal, with Axel Düberg and young Ove Porath) whom he barely offers shelter, Birgitta Valberg his wife, in Ingmar Bergman’s bitter The Virgin Spring, 1960, the director’s first feature with cinematographer Sven Nykvist.
Virgin Spring, The (1960) - Until She's Been Tamed Mother Mareta (Birgitta Valberg) waking pampered Karin (Brigitta Pettersson), they converse and are joined by father Tore (Max von Sydow), early in Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, 1960.
Hour Of The Wolf (1968) - Some Caution Is Advised Alma (Liv Ullmann) is secretly reading excerpts from the diary of her painter husband Johan (Max von Sydow) when she learns of his violent encounter with the curator Heerbrand (Ulf Johansson) in Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf, 1968.
Persona (1967) - A Film By Ingmar Bergman The second and relatively conventional piece of the opening to Ingmar Bergman's Persona, 1967, this time with credits and introducing stars Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann.
Persona (1967) - Hello Mrs. Vogler The initial meeting, encompassing three scenes, between nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) and stricken actress Mrs. Vogler (Liv Ullman), and the unseen doctor (Margaretha Krook) from Ingmar Bergman's Persona, 1967.
Persona (1967) - Opening The outrageous, unlikely, gory and fascinating opening montage, much of it inside a film projector, from Ingmar Bergman's Persona, 1967, this being only the first part.
Persona (1967) - It's Almost Morning Nearing the end of their long first evening at the summer house, nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) and Mrs. Vogler (Liv Ullmann) in a mundane and mystical encounter from Ingmar Bergman's Persona, 1967.

Trailer

Family

Gustav Nathanael Nykvist
Father
Lutheran missionary. Spent 30 years in the Congo.
Gerda Emilia Nykvist
Mother
Lutheran missionary.
Carl-Gustav Nykvist
Son
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.

Companions

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

Bibliography

"Resan till Lambarene/Journey to Lambarene"
Sven Nykvist (1959)

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"