Barbara Sukowa Seduces & Max von Sydow Springs A SmileFriday, November 10, 2006
One of the most horrific films I have ever seen, I saw with John Lekich in 1991. The German film, Europa directed by Danish Lars von Trier, began with a man who was underwater, struggling to free himself from a rope or plant. A voice that could only be (and was) Max von Sydow said, "At the count of 10 this man will die." Then von Sydow began his lugubrious countdown. At 0, the man no longer moved.
The female lead was the ravishing Barbara Sukowa. The Georgia Straight had dispatched John Lekich and me to the Hotel Vancouver for the interview and the portrait session. Sukowa was in town for that year's Vancouver Film Festival. I took some pictures of Sukowa using a lighting technique (grid spots) that enhanced her striking eyes. What I told her before I took the picture , I could never repeat in our politically correct 21st century, "Seduce me through the lens of my camera."
A year later when Max von Sydow was a guest at the same film festival I photographed him in the Vancouver Hotel's Sun Room. I almost always light my subjects and for this occasion I had my lights ready in a corner. But when I saw von Sydow looking out of window during his interview, I snapped this with my camera's long lens. When he finally faced my lights, I told him how his voice had affected me in Sukowa's movie. He looked back seriously but he smiled (below) when I told him under what circumstances I had seen my first art film, his 1960 film The Virgin Spring. I was 17 and it was my last year in a Catholic boarding school in Austin, Texas. I told my three roomates, "I think it's about time we all went to see a "dirty" movie. We looked at the paper and saw The Virgin Spring, we figured that was the one.