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Askew Review 15

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(First Run Features) 2000.  Documentary.  76 minutes.  Color.  Not rated. Sub-titles. In this intimate retrospective, filmmaker Carl-Gustaf Nykvist documents the life and career of his father, legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist.  A winner of two Oscars and known for his alliance with Ingmar Berman, Sven Nykvist was a master of using natural, soft lighting to create the most amazing effects on film.
The son of missionary parents, as children Sven and his siblings were left without their parents for stretches as long as four years while working in Africa.  And though Sven’s father was strict with his children and believed that things like drinking and movies were sinful, Sven dropped out of college to take a job as a cameraman and discovered his calling.
Some of Hollywood’s biggest names talk about their experiences working with Sven, such as Woody Allen, Melanie Griffith, Susan Sarandon, Gena Rowlands, and in addition to others, Ingmar Bergman of course, and Roman Polanski who had said of Sven that he had a ‘perfect vibe.’  Regarded by many as an enthusiastic and strong willed artist who never raised his voice and was always in a good mood, Sven Nykvist’s gift with lighting techniques still amaze those involved with film making.
Though his career flourished, his personal life was turbulent.  Repeating some of his father’s actions such as leaving his family to themselves for work, his marriage ended after 16 years, and his oldest son committed suicide.  In 1998 he was diagnosed with Aphasia, a disorder that damages the language centers of the brain, and this ended his impressive career.
This film weaves interviews with home movies and behind-the scenes-footage to create a delicate, esteemed tribute to Sven Nykvist’s career.  An enchanting film to be cherished by Sven Nykist fans, but enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation for filmmaking and aesthetics.  - Melanie Falina



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