Acclaimed Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer Passes Away At 100

Sad news tonight folks. Longtime Ingmar Bergman collaborator, Gunnar Fischer, has passed away earlier today at the ripe old age of 100. I just saw the Masters Of Cinema twitter feed posting a link to this Swedish web site (HD.se), announcing that he had died earlier today in Sweden.

From the translated story:

Gunnar Fischer out of time

The photographer and film director Gunnar Fischer died on Saturday, 100 years old.

Stockholm. He worked closely with Ingmar Bergman in the 50’s in classic films such as Summer with Monika, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and The Magician.

– He passed away in the afternoon. This fall, he would have turned 101 years, says his son and cinematographer Jens Fischer said.

Gunnar Fischer was employed by the Swedish Film Industry 1935-1970 and the 1970-75 SVT.

Fischer‘s cinematography is well represented in the Criterion Collection. You can find him working with Bergman early on in his career in Port of Call, Thirst, and To Joy in the Early Bergman Eclipse Set (you can find a review from David on Port Of Call here). Fischer also worked on several other Bergman films in the Collection, including The Seventh Seal, Smiles Of A Summer Night, Wild Strawberries, and the Magician (read David’s review of the Blu-ray here). It’s interesting to see that all but one of those films are available now on Blu-ray. Now that we think the Phantom Carriage will be joining the Collection on DVD and Blu-ray in September, it’s very possible that Criterion might team that release with a Blu-ray upgrade of Wild Strawberries, starring Victor Sjöström (who directed the Phantom Carriage).

Update: Criterion also has the films, Summer With Monika and Summer Interlude, both of which Fischer worked on, available to watch on their Hulu Plus page. You can find all of the Ingmar Bergman films that are streaming on Hulu Plus here.

What are your fondest memories of Gunnar Fischer’s films? Any other works of his that you’d like to see join the Criterion Collection? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Here is some biographical information on Fischer from the Ingmar Bergman website:

Born in Ljungby on November 18, 1910, Fischer studied painting for Otte Sköld, lived in Copenhagen and spent three years enlisted in the navy before he applied for work at the Svensk Filmindustri. At SF he learned cinematography from Victor Sjöstrom’s legendary photographer Julius Jaenzon and started out as assistant cameraman in SmÃ¥länningar (1935). He then was engaged as assistant cameraman for 16 feature films before his first film as director of photography in 1942.

During his productive years from 1935-75, Gunnar Fischer worked with the most prominent Swedish directors and also with international directors such as Anthony Asquith and Carl Theodor Dreyer. He served as cinematographer for twelve of the young Ingmar Bergman’s films, from Harbour City in 1948 to The Devil’s Eye (and also the title design in The Touch 1971). Gunnar Fischer:

“I felt privileged collaborating with Bergman. He was never indifferent to photography. He could be upset if he didn’t like what he saw. Why our collaboration ended with The Devil’s Eye, I don’t really know. Realistically it’s most likely that he thought Sven Nykvist was a better photographer.”

Torsten Jungstedt described Fischer’s style as following:

“Fischer’s cinematography is characterized by the fact that he came relatively late in life to film in the transition from silent to sound film, and was also an educated artist. But as a cinematographer he accepted Bergman and Dreyer’s ideas and sense of imagery. At the height of his proficiency, Fischer gave Ingmar Bergman the faces that represent the beginning of the more intensive part of Bergman’s international acclaim.”

In 1970, Gunnar Fischer finished working at SF and moved on to Sveriges Television where at the end of his active career he was responsible for cinematography in the TV series Din stund pÃ¥ jorden (1973) and Raskens (1976). One of his last film assignments was Jacques Tati’s Parade (1974) where he collaborated with his son Jens, one of the most distinguished Swedish cinematographers of the 1990’s and 2000’s. Fisher’s sons Jens and Peter (also a cinematographer) played Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand’s young sons in Waiting Women.

In addition to his career as cinematographer Gunnar Fischer directed short films, wrote screenplays (1933-41) and published books for children.

Fischer was married to Gull Söderblom, sister of the popular actor Ã…ke Söderblom.

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1 Comment

  • Still, 100 years old isn’t bad, particularly given that he seems to have retained his faculties well into old age. (‘Sight & Sound’ interviewed him a few years ago, and he sounded very informative.)

    R.I.P.

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