Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rightwing Cartoonist Watch (9-30-06)

Over at The Blue Herald, I have the first installment of a feature I've long been intending to do, Rightwing Cartoonist Watch. Here's the link.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Elegy (and Call to Arms) for the United States Constitution, 9/28/06

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
—Thomas Jefferson, 1785, on slavery.

Against all logic, common sense, basic understanding of the United States Government, and morality, the Detainee/Military Trial Bill has passed.

The wounds inflicted upon America on 9/11/01 were deep and real; none of us alive and cognizant at that time will ever forget them. But those grave events were inflicted by a foreign enemy, Al-Qaeda. In tragic, horrific contrast, the wounds inflicted upon America and the United States Constitution today, 9/28/06, are self-inflicted. It's as if a mugging victim, shaken by his experience, decided the best way to prevent future harm to himself was to slit his own wrists.

The best way to avoid being prosecuted for war crimes is - don't commit war crimes.

Sadly, it seems this option has not been considered by the Bush administration and the Republican party, as evidenced by their move to legalize torture, eliminate habeas corpus, and undermine the 4th Amendment through warrantless surveillance. We can catch any bad guys without these measures, and these measures harm the very cause they claim to further. Violence, crime and terrorism are solved through a greater commitment to justice, not through violence towards the Geneva Conventions, the United States Constitution and core American values. The Nuremberg trials confronted true evil by upholding rather than undermining the rule of law and principles of basic human decency. There's a reason why so many military personnel, intelligence officials, and JAGs oppose Bush's measures. America should not torture, nor attempt to strip anyone of essential civil rights.

The best way to fight evil is with good.

As Glenn Greenwald observes, “it is not hyperbole to say that this is one of the most tyrannical and dangerous bills to be enacted in our nation’s history.” As Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “Why would we allow the terrorists to win by doing to ourselves what they could never do, and abandon the principles for which so many Americans today and through our history have fought and sacrificed?” As the line from Henry V goes, “Shame and eternal shame, nothing but shame!”

Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave. What is wrong with the Republican party? I cannot pretend to the moral authority or compassion to say, “forgive them, for they know what they do.” I am not inclined to forgive them. And I suspect they do know what they do. Cassandra’s curse was to know the future, and shout it out, but never to be believed. The difference here is that Cassandra, here played by liberals and all those conservatives and moderates who revere justice and the rule of law, have been heard, but still dismissed by those in power. It is not that those in power do not hear (and they may even believe); they just do not care. As the passage by Pastor Martin Niemöller goes:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

The GOP either assumes no one will ever come for them — or fears it so much they are acting to prevent any legal repercussions for when it finally happens. I tend to think they simply cannot imagine the possibility that innocents will be arrested and harmed and soldiers endangered by their measures. Nor can they imagine not being in a position of power and privilege. Civil rights are a concern for the little people, not those sitting in the first-class seats.

To the GOP:

Are you so fearful of terrorists that you will betray the very same essential values that spurred the creation of America in the first place?

Are you so incompetent you cannot convict a real terrorist in a fair trial?

Are you so lazy you cannot get a warrant to pursue our enemies?

Are you so ignorant that you would needlessly throw out the United States Constitution?

Are you so selfish that the safety and well-being of American soldiers is less important to you than your own re-election and your party keeping power?

Are you so proud of your performance to date waging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in investigating war profiteering, in general congressional oversight, in Katrina (and Iraq) reconstruction, in fiscal management and demonstrating unimpeachable ethical standards, that the Democrats cannot be trusted to continue your holy mission?

Are you so unpatriotic as to betray everything that has made America great?

America has been a great nation, despite its faults. Among its greatest shames are slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, the Japanese Internment Act, and the prolonged delay of civil rights for all Americans. But America has always been about pursuing the ideal, about evolving and progressing, about self-correcting. At its heart, at its best, it is a progressive nation. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against the injustice of his era, he spoke not of a new, radical revolution, but of America honoring its own ideals.

Our national honor has been horribly stained — in the name of our nation. It is time for all men and women of conscience to rescue America from the same false patriots who shriek so loudly that that the only way to protect America is to strip us all of our essential freedoms.

I’m reminded of two stirring, quintessentially American pieces. One is an elegy. The other serves as a call to arms.

The Elegy: Walt Whitman wrote “O Captain, my Captain” after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865:

O Captain! My Captain!

I. O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red!
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

II. O captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up! For you the flag is flung, for you the bugle trills:
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths, for you the shores a-crowding:
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
O Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

III. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won!
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

The Call to Arms: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the following famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"No Excuse" for Detainee Bill

The Specter-Levin amendment to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (the "Detainee Bill") to preserve the Great Writ of habeas corpus failed by three votes, with the vote splitting almost completely along party lines. You can see the scoundrels and their vote breakdown here.

It's all over but the shouting. Not only have the GOP gutted the United States Constitution, they've assaulted the essential values that caused us to start the American Revolution in the first place - core principles that go back to the Magna Carta in 1215. Such is the awesome leadership, moral clarity and unerring judgment of President George W. Bush. Such is the fear that drives the GOP – not so much of terrorists, but of not getting re-elected, and losing party dominance.

I'll have to research which level of hell in Dante's Inferno this merits them ( Aha. I'm going with the Eighth Circle).

Dan Froomkin supplies another splendid entry that round-up most of the best commentary on the bill itself (the amendment vote had not occurred yet):

From today's New York Times editorial: "Here's what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans' fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws -- while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser. . . .

"Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

"They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Mark Benjamin and Walter Shapiro write in Salon: "Despite the far-reaching implications of the legislation, the Senate galleries were virtually empty throughout the day, while most news coverage treated the congressional debate as of far more transient importance than the recent television confrontation between Bill Clinton and Fox TV host Chris Wallace. Many legislators had only a shaky understanding of what was in the Senate bill since its provisions were still being revised, after consultation with the White House, Tuesday night. As California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein complained in a Tuesday interview, 'I don't understand this rush other than to make it very political. This is a huge thing that our people are going to have to live by . . . It is important not only that it works, but that it also be just.'"

Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate, marvels that senators working in avowed ignorance of what precisely the administration has been doing are now approving legislation that they themselves don't understand.

"For the five years since 9/11, we have been in the dark in this country. This president has held detainees in secret prisons and had them secretly tortured using secret legal justifications. Those held in secret at Guantanamo Bay include innocent men, as do those who have been secretly shipped off to foreign countries and brutally tortured there. That was a shame on this president.

"But passage of the new detainee legislation will be a different sort of watershed. Now we are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture we'll never hear about. Instead of detainees we didn't care about, we are authorizing detentions we'll never know about. Instead of being misled by the president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that is a shame on us all."

I found one more commentator, Andrew Cohen, at his Washington Post legal blog Bench Conference, who also really nailed it. Here's his comments, in full. Here's the link to the original page, as well as the comments.

This Time, Congress Has No Excuse

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake. At least when Congress voted to authorize the Iraq War legislators can point to the fact that they were deceived by Administration officials. But what's Congress' excuse now for agreeing to sign off on a law that would give the executive branch even more unfettered power over the rest of us than it already has?

It just keeps getting worse. This morning, esteemed Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman published this fine essay in the Los Angeles Times. His lead? "Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

"This dangerous compromise," Professor Ackerman continued, "not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops 'during an armed conflict,' it also allows him to seize anybody who has 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence-- from overseas or right here at home-- to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration's horrible track record when it comes to identifying "enemy combatants" and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called "enemy combatants" here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered "no" to all three questions. But your answer doesn't matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is "yes, sir." Our Congress is about to make yet another needless mistake in the war on terror and this time the folks making it won't be able to say that the White House tricked them into it.

It's hard to believe this is still America.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Banned Books Week 2006

September 23-30 is Banned Books Week, as observed by the American Library Association. Here’s their key press release, from 3/7/06:

“It's Perfectly Normal” tops ALA's 2005 list of most challenged books

CHICAGO – One of the most frequently challenged authors of the past decade has two books on the American Library Association's (ALA) list of the most frequently challenged books of 2005. Robie H. Harris' “It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” heads up the list, while “It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” rounds out the top 10. Both books drew complaints for sexual content.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 405 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The majority of challenges are reported by public libraries, schools and school libraries.

According to Judith F. Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five likely remain unreported.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2005” reflect a range of themes. The books are:
• “It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
• “Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
• “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
• “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
• “Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
• “Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
• “What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
• Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
• “Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
• “It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.

Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

(If Huck Finn were here, he might well be disappointed he didn’t make the list.)

The website has plenty of other resources, including a list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 (alas, the ALA used to list the reason for the challenges, but that doesn’t seem to be available on the site this year).

Last year’s installment, with a snazzy poster, is here.

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

Bush Lies; Rice Lies

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

At times, it seems as if there are no mysteries left in life, or that the mysteries are just too slight.

For instance, to any sane, well-informed adult reading the AP headline Rice challenges statements by Clinton on terror: Secretary says administration aggressively pursued al-Qaida before 9/11” it’s obvious Condoleezza Rice is lying.

And when one reads the AP headline ”Intel report: Iraq a ‘cause célèbre’ for extremists: President says NIE leak was political, denies war has worsened terrorism” President Bush is clearly either lying or delusional.

The only real mysteries are how the media will cover it, how the Bush cheerleaders will spin it, and how blatantly and aggressively Bush and Rice will insist that black is white and that they’re not lying through their teeth.

Rice’s lies were prompted by the now (in)famous interview of Bill Clinton by Chris Wallace at Fox News. The AP reports that the YouTube version has been downloaded over 800,000 times and earned “the show its best ratings in nearly three years.” (The video can be seen here and a previous post is here.) In addition to Rice calling Clinton’s charges that the Bush administration did little to stop al-Qaeda before 9/11 “flatly false,”

Rice also took exception to Clinton's statement that he "left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" for incoming officials when he left office.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida," she told the newspaper, which is owned by News Corp., the same company that owns Fox News Channel.

Ah. those Bushies. They’re good at lying from plenty of practice, but at times they get sloppy and move from technically true if delusional assertions such as “I firmly believe we’re winning the war on terror” to demonstratively false statements. The Raw Story very rapidly exposed Rice’s lie:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sven Nykvist 1922-2006

My “three gods of cinematography” have always been Vittorio Storaro, Sacha Vierny, and Sven Nykvist. (That’s not to slight the work of at least twenty other superb cinematographers I could name.)

Sven Nykvist died last week on Wednesday, September 20th, 2006. He won two Oscars, for his extraordinary work on Cries and Whispers and Fanny and Alexander, and won numerous other awards as well. He can be seen at work in the documentaries The Making of Fanny & Alexander (1986) Directed by Andei Tarkovsky (1988), and Light Keeps Me Company (1999), this final piece being made by his son, Carl-Gustaf Nyvkvist. He also directed a handful of films himself and wrote three books about his craft.

Sven Nykvist’s imdb page lists 121 films, and has a pretty good biography here. His Wikipedia page isn’t bad either, and provides links to good obituaries from The Daily Telegraph and The New York Times, a brief write-up from CNN. and a good piece on him for his award from The American Society of Cinematographers.

Nykvist is probably best known for his use of a soft “Northern light” similar to what one sees in Vermeer paintings or a Rembrandt. To achieve this, he sometimes employed a “light globe” or similar device, basically a sphere of silk lit from inside and hanging from a crane. He tried to light most scenes from a single source to avoid double shadows and achieve a greater realism. He did not want to draw attention to his work. (In my Cinematography II class, one assignment involved us recreating a scene from a film. Three of us picked films shot by Nykvist – all for different directors!)

Although Nykvist worked with many great directors, his name is almost synonymous with Ingmar Bergman. The two worked on (by my count) an impressive eighteen films together. For Winter Light, the second installment in Bergman’s “faith” trilogy, supposedly Bergman and Nykvist spent an entire day in a church, watching how the light shifted across the interior of the building as the hours passed.

While I am in awe of much of Nykvist’s work, Fanny and Alexander may be his most impressive for me. Not only do Bergman and Nykvist employ a broad palette of color to paint the different locales and moods, they also employ some astounding camera moves – but none of the work draws attention to itself . Unless you’re watching for it, you’re not likely to notice that certain scenes are filmed in one take. The opening of the film starts near Christmas time, with rich reds and greens and a sinuous dance of characters and camera. A middle section at the Bishop’s house is stark, bleak and grey. And near the end, the film employs a mystical, dream-like feel – evoking the daydream of the opening sequence (the original miniseries version is now finally out on DVD, thank goodness!).

While Fanny and Alexander, Hour of the Wolf and The Silence employ some rather horrific images to powerful effect, it’s really the love of face and hands that Bergman and Nykvist excel at. The extraordinary, sometimes painful intimacy of Scenes from a Marriage and Cries and Whispers, for instance, just would not work without a deep commitment to capturing human emotion on film in a naturalistic way.

The best testimony to Sven Nykvist’s work is, of course, his work itself. While the following screenshots are of varying quality, and can’t compare to actually seeing one of the films he shot, they offer a taste of the craftsmanship and artistry of this true master.

The Virgin Spring (1960)

Through A Glass Darkly (1961)

Winter Light (1962)

The Silence (1963)

Persona (1966)

Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Shame (1968)

Cries and Whispers (1972)

Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

The Magic Flute (1975)

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

The Sacrifice (1986)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Celebrity (1998)