September 20, 1879 — January 3, 1960
With regard to the extremely moving final shot, which is possibly one of the most beautiful and remarkable moments I’ve ever captured on film in my entire career, it has a bizarre background. And it might be interesting to mention it, since Victor was such a punctual person. He was always ready to start working at 9:00 sharp. He knew his lines, and he had all his props and costumes in order. So he was very meticulous. But he also liked to be home by 5:00, when he would enjoy a glass of whiskey. And that was important too. And the day we shot the final scene, we were, for some reason I can’t recall, we were working overtime. I had to break this to Victor, and he was furious. Truly pissed off. And he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And we set things up. He stood there and he refused to speak to me. He thought it was mean of me to not let him go home. Then suddenly, when I said ‘action,’ his faced transformed. The surly, unapproachable old man’s expression was transformed and became accessible, beatific and wise.
There was much tension in his life: his excessive self-criticism, his grumpiness, his meticulous nature, the fact that he was so very demanding in his interactions, and hard on himself as well, along with that crushing angst. Yet despite all this, these remarkable images came though. Unforgettable.
“The fact that I have been able to work with Sjöström, that I have been able to talk to him about his craft, that we could discuss the making of The Phantom Carriage, or the US production The Wind, or Ingeborg Holm, and he could tell me how he worked and thought at the time — being granted the opportunity to talk to such a master of his craft, to listen to him and absorb his words, it made me feel that I was a part of a certain development, a part of a grand tradition.”