Sven Nykvist

by Dominique Le Rigoleur, director of photography, AFC

par Dominique Le Rigoleur La Lettre AFC n°159

[ English ] [ français ]

I met Sven on Schlöndorff’s A Love of Swann, in 1983. This encounter was to me like one of those amazing gifts that filmmaking sometimes unexpectedly gives us. Like Bertolucci with Storaro, Truffaut with Almendros, Bergman and his films always seemed to follow Sven. When you met him, you met more than just a man.

Dominique Le Rigoleur, Volker Schlöndorff, Sven Nykvist, Balthazar, chef machiniste (photo Georges Pierre)

This was for me one of the most wonderful and enriching experiences of my life. Sven wanted the cameraman to do his zooming himself. This was the first question he asked me : “Do you do the zooming yourself ?” At the time, zooming was rather poorly considered, and I was surprised by the question. During the shooting, Sven taught me, in tracking shots, to sometimes start with a very close shot on a sofa or a candle, and end on a large shot of a parlour crowded with a hundred people -the whole thing in rhythm, like in music. This would prove very helpful. It gave the camera a great lightness.

I loved Sven and his handsome, stern face, and the way he tried, being the son of a minister, to keep all his emotions, despite their violence, inside. I am very sad.

On this film he had an impressive bunch of assistants : Arthur Cloquet, Guillaume Schiffman and Nils Tavernier.
(Translated from French by Mathilde Bouhon)