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Max Von Sydow Joins Game of Thrones

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

As it says above, Max Von Sydow is joining the cast of Game of Thrones.

As Laura Prudom writes in Variety, ”The Three-Eyed Raven is getting a makeover in season six of Game of Thrones Variety has confirmed that Max von Sydow will take over the role, which was originated by Struan Rodger in the season four finale of the HBO drama.

The enigmatic character is responsible for teaching Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) about his supernatural gifts, including his ability to transfer himself into the body of other creatures through the process of ‘warging.’ Although Bran and his allies were absent throughout season five, they are confirmed to be making a return in the new season, which has commenced filming in Europe.

While von Sydow is not expected to have much screen time in season six, he will reportedly play a major role in the events of the new season. The same has been said of fellow new cast member Ian McShane, who is playing an undisclosed role.

Last week, HBO chief Michael Lombardo told reporters that the current plan is for Game of Thrones to end after eight seasons, despite earlier quotes that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were aiming to wrap up the epic series after seven years. The series earned 24 Emmy nominations for season five, with noms for stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and drama series, among others. Von Sydow is no stranger to iconic properties, and will next be seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December.”

True enough, but for some of us, Von Sydow will always be linked his work with Ingmar Bergman, which first brought him to international stardom in such films as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring and other Bergman classics- and the rest of his work, while keeping him busy – very busy – seems an afterthought. Still, it can’t help but bring up the level of quality on the show, and his work is always inspirational to watch, no matter what he does.

At age 86, Max Von Sydow keeps right on working, and glad of it we are.

Wild Strawberries

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Click here, or on the image above, to see a clip from Wild Strawberries.

It’s fashionable now to dismiss Ingmar Bergman as an antique, which he certainly is not, or to remember him for one film only, Persona (1966), which is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but his earlier films, such as the often-parodied The Seventh Seal or the measured, reverential Wild Strawberries (both 1957), are superb examples of personal filmmaking, made possible by Bergman’s long-running arrangement with the Swedish national film company, Svensk Filmindustri, which allowed him to spend the cold winters in Stockholm directing a play, only to emerge every Spring to shoot a new film.

Woody Allen, in particular, is a longtime admirer of Bergman’s, and has remade, after a fashion, several of his films, but all I really want to do here is to call your attention to Wild Strawberries, in particular — remade by Allen as Deconstructing Harry (1997), the tale of an elderly professor emeritus, Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström), who travels from his home to his former university to accept an honorary degree for his lifetime of work.

Though the Wild Strawberries starts with a horrific nightmare that Isak endures the night before he is to accept the award (see the clip above), the film concentrates mostly on the often-fractious relationships between Borg and his daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), who is unhappily married to Isak’s son Evald (Gunnar Björnstrand).

Nothing much happens, but then again everything happens, and the film ends on a note of redemptive hope, as the visions of Isak’s youth return to him as if in a dream, to comfort and reassure him, as he faces his inevitable death — indeed, actor/director Victor Sjöström, one of the veterans of the Swedish film industry, died shortly after the film’s completion, and before a rough cut could be assembled.

In the midst of life, we have to accept our faults and failures, and keep moving on towards the light, guided by the past, as we move inexorably into the future with each passing moment. Wild Strawberries is a sublime film, and is earnestly recommended, whether you’ve seen it or not. It certainly repays repeated viewings.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at wdixon1@unl.edu or wheelerwinstondixon.com

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