Sven Nykvist

… was de vaste cameraman van Ingmar Bergman
gezien op DVD: Persona (1966)

Door het overlijden van Ingmar Bergman (op dezelfde dag als Michelangelo Antonioni) was ik waarschijnlijk een van de vele liefhebbers die afgelopen week bij Moskwood Media een film uit de Bergman Collectie bestelde. Persona wordt gezien als zijn meesterwerk. Deze keer lette ik vooral ook op de fotografie van Sven Nykvist, de vaste cameraman van Bergman die vorig jaar september overleed. Persona is een indringende film die dicht op de huid zit. Soms heel letterlijk. De intro is een Luis Buñuel-achtig surrealistische compilatie van beelden met een sterke symbolische lading: een schaap dat de keel doorgesneden wordt, een erectie die een fractie van een seconde in beeld blijft, een hand die met een nagel doorboord wordt.

Liv Ullmann
Bergman’s vrouw en muze
Directed by Ingmar Bergman, Persona (1966) is a sight to behold on a big theater screen. Persona starts with a demonstration of how imagery can have a powerful effect on us. Images of an erect penis, Christ’s hand being nailed to a cross, a lamb having is throat sliced open flash across the screen. As we watch the blood pour from the lamb’s neck, we see its eyes dim in death, and we are horrified. We see a boy in a morgue caressing the viewer’s face through a camera lens. Our perspective is from the outside looking in. Perspective shifts, and we notice that the location where we once stood as viewers, is replaced by interchanging images of Elisabeth and Alma. We are now in the room with the boy, from the inside looking out.

Sven Nykvist Sven 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, which may have sparked Nykvist’s interest in the visual arts. A keen sportsman in his youth, his first cinematic effort was to film himself taking a high jump so as to improve his 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 the Cinecittà, returning to Sweden two years later.

In 1945, aged 23, he became a fully-fledged cinematographer, which 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 legendary director Ingmar Bergman in 1953 on Sawdust and Tinsel (released in the US as The Naked Night). He was one of three cinematographers to work on that movie, 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 full-time cinematographer and push the director’s work in a new direction, away from the theatrical look of his earlier films. He worked as sole cameraman on Bergman’s Oscar-winning films The Virgin Spring in 1959 and Through a Glass Darkly in 1960. He revolutionised the way we see close ups in Bergman’s Persona in 1966.


Persona [ ]