"Sufficient time is rarely taken to study light. It is as important as the lines the actors speak, or the direction given to them. It is an integral part of the story and that is why such close coordination is needed between director and cinematographer. Light is a treasure chest: once properly understood, it can bring another dimension to the medium… As I worked with Ingmar, I learned how to express in light the words in the script, and make it reflect the nuances of the drama. Light became a passion which has dominated my life."
Sven NykvistDecember 3, 1922 — September 20, 2006

"Sufficient time is rarely taken to study light. It is as important as the lines the actors speak, or the direction given to them. It is an integral part of the story and that is why such close coordination is needed between director and cinematographer. Light is a treasure chest: once properly understood, it can bring another dimension to the medium… As I worked with Ingmar, I learned how to express in light the words in the script, and make it reflect the nuances of the drama. Light became a passion which has dominated my life."

Sven Nykvist
December 3, 1922 — September 20, 2006

I wrote [Scenes from a Marriage] just for fun and didn’t know what to do with it. It was like Winnie the Pooh. You know, Christopher Robin was ill and, every evening before sleep, A. A. Milne told him one of those little stories. Then he wrote them down and suddenly the whole world bought Winnie the Pooh. It was the same with Scenes from a Marriage. I wrote it for fun, for myself. I started with the third scene, then I wrote the fourth, then the second. The whole thing took me about four weeks. Remember, it’s called Scenes from a Marriage, not the Marriage. To me, it was very private. Then suddenly it wasn’t private any more, suddenly it became a shared experience for a great number of people. In Denmark, for instance, the divorce statistics went up. That’s got to be good!

A Visit with Ingmar Bergman, New York Times Magazine | 1975

[…] I wanted to make it for television, a more beautiful everyday product, since we had practically no budget. We planned to create six episodes, each to be rehearsed for five days and then filmed during the subsequent five days. About fifty minutes of film would be made in ten days, which meant that the six episodes would be finished in a little more than two months. When we actually shot the film, it went much faster than that. Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann enjoyed their parts as Johan and Marianne and learned them quickly. Suddenly we had a film that had cost practically nothing, which was great since we were broke. (Cries and Whispers had not yet been sold.)

All in all, Scenes from a Marriage was a pure joy to make because we approached it as a television production and made it without feeling the paralyzing pressure of making a feature film.

Images: My Life in Film | Ingmar Bergman

February 11, 1963 — Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light premieres in Sweden.

"Well, it was a difficult film, one of the hardest I’ve made so far. The audience has to work. It’s a progression from Through a Glass Darkly, and it in turn is carried forward to The Silence. The three stand together. My basic concern in making them was to dramatize the all-importance of communication, of the capacity for feeling. They are not concerned—as many critics have theorized—with God or His absence, but with the saving force of love. Most of the people in these three films are dead, completely dead. They don’t know how to love or to feel any emotions. They are lost because they can’t reach anyone outside of themselves.

"The man in Winter Light, the pastor, is nothing. He’s nearly dead, you understand. He’s almost completely cut off from everyone. The central character is the woman. She doesn’t believe in God, but she has strength; it’s the women who are strong. She can love. She can save with her love. Her problem is that she doesn’t know how to express this love. She’s ugly, clumsy. She smothers him, and he hates her for it and for her ugliness. But she finally learns how to love. Only at the end, when they’re in the empty church for the three o’clock service that has become perfectly meaningless for him, her prayer in a sense is answered: he responds to her love by going on with the service in that empty country church. It’s his own first step toward feeling, toward learning how to love. We’re not saved by God, but by love. That’s the most we can hope for.” — Ingmar Bergman, 1964

"I think I have made just one picture that I really like, and that is Winter Light. That is my only picture about which I feel that I have started here and ended there and that everything along the way has obeyed me. Everything is exactly as I wanted to have it, in every second of this picture. I couldn’t make this picture today; it’s impossible; but I saw it a few weeks ago together with a friend and I was very satisfied.” — Ingmar Bergman, 1972


“Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.”
— Sven Nykvist (pictured here with Ingmar Bergman)

“Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.”

— Sven Nykvist (pictured here with Ingmar Bergman)

Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist on the set of Fanny and Alexander.

Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist on the set of Fanny and Alexander.

"Film as dream, film as music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness. At the editing table, when I run the strip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood: in the darkness of the wardrobe, I slowly wind on one frame after another, see the almost imperceptible changes, wind faster — a movement."

Ingmar Bergman (July 14, 1918 -– July 30, 2007)

On the set of The Sacrifice.

On the set of The Sacrifice.

Andrei Tarkovsky, Susan Fleetwood, Sven Nykvist, and Erland Josephson on the set of The Sacrifice.

Andrei Tarkovsky, Susan Fleetwood, Sven Nykvist, and Erland Josephson on the set of The Sacrifice.

On the set of Fanny and Alexander

On the set of Fanny and Alexander