After a hugely successful career as one of the world’s most highly respected cinematographers, Sven Nykvist directed his first film in decades, one that was better received internationally than in his home country. He first heard this reality-based story when he was a kid; we learn what consequences a whole family suffers when a starving man (Stellan Skarsgård) in rural 1860s Sweden kills an ox that doesn’t belong to him. Nykvist has a direct, bare-bones approach that often serves this portrait of life in poverty-stricken Sweden well… but he does hurry past some of the film’s most emotional moments, diminishing its impact.
1991-Sweden-Denmark. 92 min. Color. Directed and photographed by Sven Nykvist. Screenplay: Sven Nykvist, Lasse Summanen. Cast: Stellan Skarsgård (Helge Roos), Ewa Fröling (Elfrida Roos), Lennart Hjulström (Svenning Gustavsson), Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Björn Granath… Erland Josephson, Rikard Wolff, Björn Gustafson.
Trivia: Original title: Oxen.