24 thoughts on “MCM: Max von Sydow

  1. You missed him as the archdruid of Gaul in the film “Druids” – which according to Wikipedia is one of the most disappointing French films ever made. It is about Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.

    1. How dare you bring up that film? I thought the Internet got the memo that officially that movie never happened.

      It’s so abysmal the official description should include scare quotes: Druids is a 2001 “epic” historical drama “film” “directed” (?) by Jacques Dorfmann.

  2. I had a choice of working on the Young Indiana Jones series, but I opted for the film “Last of the Mohicans” instead.
    “7th Seal” is such a good flick! But I, like Roxana, love him as Ming the Merciless. He looks great in those Danilo Donati costumes… that bugle beaded collar! “Pathetic earthlings…”

  3. I’d highly recommend Jan Troell’s two-part epic THE EMIGRANTS and THE NEW LAND, which I got to see at a local arthouse/revival theater around 1974.

    (The theater usually booked classic, foreign and offbeat films in double features for half-week runs, but ran these two 3-hr plus films as single features. Early in the week you could watch THE EMIGRANTS, then come back a few days later and catch THE NEW LAND.)

    The direction and performances are excellent, not only Max von Sydow but Liv Ullmann (nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for THE EMIGRANTS) as his wife.

    (And there very badly needs to be a Woman Crush Wednesday on Liv Ullmann– legendary stage and film actress, director, writer, humanitarian.)

    1. I also recommend The Emigrants and The New Land – you really feel like you went on the characters’ harrowing journey with them. (I especially liked the first film’s critique of American classicism.) And honesty, once you get into it, you don’t feel the runtime.

      And I third the motion on Liv Ullmann! One of the best actresses… ever.

    2. Would love to see these two movies. (My grandfather came across from Sweden in 1884.) Also, I actually did go to “March or Die” when it came out because my boyfriend loved anything set in Africa or Asia involving European soldiers. (’70s student Marxists were like that.) Of course Max never fails us, whatever the role, and Catherine Deneuve is a treat, swanning around a desert fortress because, hey, you need to have French female to sacrifice her virtue for something or other.

  4. I’ve missed a lot of them, so I’ll go for Robin Hood; he gave a lot of weight to every scene he was in, yet could provide a humourous tone when needed. I had the pleasure of interviewing him twice for contemporary roles and found him to be very much a gentleman of the old school and he never once answered a question without thinking carefully about the answer.

    1. I’m from Sweden and there was a certain amount of negative media coverage on Sydow towards the end of his life here at home. I don’t know the full details, but when he married a French lady he apparently gave up his Swedish citizenship and with that came rumours of the wife controlling him and/or early stages of dementia. Requests for interviews were turned down etc. (probably just due to old age) but I think people may have been a little gutted about the citizenship issue. You’d tend to pride yourself on being from the same place as Max von Sydow, and then he just gave that up? Hence, great to hear that he was likeable – I’m certain he was, he just kept us all up here wondering why he’d all of a sudden turned French.

  5. I was just thinking about The Seventh Seal a few days ago. Such an amazing film! One of my medieval history professors showed it in class once, and I’ve loved it ever since.

  6. I’d like to mention that von Sydow played Fritdjof Nansen in “The Last Place On Earth”, a 1985 seven part tv series about Amundsen’s and Scott’s South Pole expeditions. It’s a great series with magnificent roles of Sverre Anker Ousdal as Roald Amundsen (he played Knut Fraenkel in “Flight of the Eagle”, where Sydow played S.A. Andree) and Martin Shaw as Robert Scott.

  7. He really aged so magnificently. He’s quite dishy, even more so with the beard, but he shall ever by Ming the Merciless in my heart. I know he was a campy, pretty much racist stereotype of an Evil Mandarin in SPAAAAAAAAAACE, but he played it so well and he new it.

    1. Aaannnddd now the theme song’s stuck in my head, likely to remain for a week or more. Thanks loads!

  8. The Seventh Seal is my absolute favorite movie of all time. I happen to think it’s actually not a good depiction of the Middle Ages (despite some people saying so), but even knowing that, it doesn’t diminish my love for the movie one bit. And yes, big fan of Max von Sydow; I was a bit gutted when I heard he passed away.

    Yes, March or Die (1977) is a pretty good movie about the French Foreign Legion – one of a handful of period films about the Legion that isn’t Beau Geste. Per usual, way too much English is used, haha. Currently the whole thing’s available for free on YouTube.

  9. The Emigrants and The New Land are among the most realistic presentations you will ever see about the immigrant experience in the Midwest. Liv Ullman is also wonderful in those films.

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