Sven Nykvist

Director of photography, Director, Producer
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 ... Read more »
Born: 12/02/1922 in Sweden

Filmography

Camera, Film, & Tape (68)

Sebastian's Love 2014 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Life's Greatest Miracle 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Director of Photography

Private Confessions 1999 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Celebrity 1998 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Curtain Call 1998 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Kristin Lavransdatter 1998 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Something to Talk About 1995 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Mixed Nuts 1994 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Only You 1994 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

With Honors 1994 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Buster's Bedroom 1993 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Sleepless in Seattle 1993 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape 1993 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Chaplin 1992 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Crimes and Misdemeanors 1989 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

New York Stories 1989 (Movie)

("Oedipus Wrecks") (Director of Photography)

Another Woman 1988 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Katinka 1988 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being 1988 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Dream Lover 1986 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Sacrifice 1986 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Agnes of God 1985 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

After the Rehearsal 1984 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Un Amour de Swann 1984 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Star 80 1983 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Cannery Row 1982 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Fanny and Alexander 1982 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

La Tragedie de Carmen 1982 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Postman Always Rings Twice 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

From the Life of the Marionettes 1980 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Marmeladupproret 1980 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Hurricane 1979 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Starting Over 1979 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Willie & Phil 1979 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Autumn Sonata 1978 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

En och En 1978 (Movie)

(Camera)

King of the Gypsies 1978 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Pretty Baby 1978 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Ansikte mot ansikte 1976 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Serpent's Egg 1976 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Black Moon 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Monismanien 1995 1975 (Movie)

(Camera)

The Magic Flute 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Tenant 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Cries and Whispers 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Ransom 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Scenes From a Marriage 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Dove 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Siddhartha 1971 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Strohfeuer 1971 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Beroringen 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Last Run 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Passion of Anna 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

First Love 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Hour of the Wolf 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Shame 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Ritual 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Persona 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Not to Speak About All These Women 1964 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Loving Couples 1963 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Silence 1963 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

To Love 1963 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Winter Light 1962 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Through A Glass Darkly 1961 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Virgin Spring 1959 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Sawdust and Tinsel 1953 (Movie)

(interiors) (Director of Photography)

Nobody's Child (TV Show)

Director of Photography
Director (4)

The Ox 1992 (Movie)

(Director)

Marmeladupproret 1980 (Movie)

(Director)

En och En 1978 (Movie)

(Director)

The Vocation 1975 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (2)

Marmeladupproret 1980 (Movie)

(Producer)

En och En 1978 (Movie)

(Producer)
Actor (1)

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography 1993 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)
Writer (1)

The Ox 1992 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

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.

Relationships

Mia Farrow Actor

Companion
had relationship in the late 1970s met during the filming of "The Hurricane" (1979)

Gustav Nykvist

Father
spent 30 years in the Congo

Gerda Nykvist

Mother

Carl-Gustav Nykvist

Son
born in 1953 directed first feature length film, "Women on the Roof" (1989) credited as Charlie Nykvist on films with father as camera assistant

EDUCATION

Stockholm Municipal School for Photographers

Milestones

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 Arr

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

1997

Reteamed with Ullman for "Private Confessions", working from a Bergman screenplay

1995

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

1995

Second collaboration with Hallstrom, "Something to Talk About"

1994

Reteamed with Jewison on "Only You"

1993

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

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 nom

1990

Served on the jury of the 43rd Cannes Film Festival

1989

Reteamed with Allen for the "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of "New York Stories" and the feature "Crimes and Misdemeanors"

1988

Initial collaboration as director of photography with director Woody Allen, the Bergmanesque "Another Woman"

1988

Garnered Oscar nomination for cinematography for Philip Kaufman's "The Incredible Lightness of Being", adapted from the novel by Milan Kundera

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

1985

Teamed with director Norman Jewison on "Agnes of God"

1984

Last collaboration with Bergman as director, "After the Rehearsal"

1983

Earned second Oscar for Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (released in 1982)

1980

Reteamed with Josephson as co-directors and co-producers of "Marmeladupproret"; also served as director of photography

1979

First collaboration with director Alan J Pakula, "Starting Over"

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

1975

Served as director of photography on Louis Malle's "Black Moon"

1974

Helmed "The Vocation", a documentary about his father's work in the Congo

1973

Received first Oscar for cinematography on Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" (released in 1972)

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"

1965

First solo directorial feature, "The Vine Bridge"; also photographed

1963

First time shooting in color for Bergman, "All These Women"

1960

Earliest US work, handling the cinematography on the US-Swedish co-production "A Matter of Morals", directed by John Cromwell

1960

First full collaboration with Bergman, "The Virgin Spring"; would succeed Gunnar Fischer as Bergman's regular cinematographer

1956

Co-directed, with Lars Henrik Ottoson, the feature film "Gorilla"

1953

First worked with Ingmar Bergman filming the interior scenes of "Sawdust and Tinsel"

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

1944

First film as director of photography, "13 Chairs"

1942

Shared cinematography duties on "I morkaste Smaland"

1942

Worked as camera assistant and interpreter for directors Mario Soldati and Franco Vigni in Cinecitta, Rome

1940

Began career as a focus puller at Sandrews studios, progressing to camera assistant

1935

Parents returned to Sweden

Raised by relatives in Stockholm and rarely saw his missionary parents until he was 13 years old

Saved money delivering newspapers to purchase a Keystone 8mm film camera with slow motion; used camera to film athletes during competition

Bonus Trivia

.

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"

.

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".

SIMILAR ARTICLES