Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer Passes

Gunnar Fischer, a cinematographer who worked with Ingmar Bergman, passed at the age of 100 on 11 June 2011.

Gunnar Fischer was born on 18 November 1910 in Ljungby, Sweden. He studied painting in Copenhagen, Denmark, then joined the Swedish Navy where he served as a cook. It was an actress he met who helped him get into Filmstaden in 1935. It was there he worked on his first film, Smålänningar (1935) as an assistant cameraman. He first worked as a cinematographer on Bara en trumpetare (1938).  It was in 1943 that he began working regularly as a cinematographer, starting with the film Natt i Hamn (Night in the Harbour). Over the next few years he would work on such films as Blåjackor (Sailors 1945), Tappa inte sugen (Don't Give Up 1947), and Krigsmans erinran (Soldier's Reminder 1948).

It was in 1946 that Gunnar Fischer worked with Ingmar Bergman, collaborating with him on the experimental film "Crisis." The two would work together again on the feature film Hamnstad (Harbour City, Port of Call 1948). Over the years Mr. Fischer would work on some of Mr. Bergman's greatest films: Törst (Thirst 1949),  Sommarlek (Summer Interlude 1951), Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night 1955), Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal 1957),  Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries 1957), Ansiktet (The Magician 1958), and Djävulens öga (The Devil's Eye 1960).

In 1970 Gunnar Fischer would leave Filmstaden and Svensk Filmindustri to go to work for Svensk Television. He worked on such television projects as Din stund på jorden (1973) and Raskens (1976). Mr. Fischer also wrote and illustrated children's books. 

There can be no doubt that Gunnar Fischer was a great cinematographer. He was particularly skilled when it came to black and white. Indeed, he had a particular gift for deep focus, bringing the characters to the fore while keeping the background sharp. The technique is obvious on what, in my opinion, is Mr. Bergman and his greatest film, The Seventh Seal, where Mr. Fischer's cinematography gave the film a nearly apocalyptic feel. Mr. Bergman would make great films without Mr. Fischer, but none would look nearly as good.

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