‘Exorcist’ star, Swedish screen legend Max von Sydow dies at 90

‘Exorcist’ star, Swedish screen legend Max von Sydow dies at 90
Swedish-born actor Max Von Sydow, in Los Angeles, in 1982. (AP Photo)
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Updated 09 March 2020

‘Exorcist’ star, Swedish screen legend Max von Sydow dies at 90

‘Exorcist’ star, Swedish screen legend Max von Sydow dies at 90
  • With chiselled features and piercing blue eyes, von Sydow became a recognizable face during a career that mixed genres and languages
  • In one of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema, von Sydow played the knight who has a chess game with death on a lonely beach in ‘The Seventh Seal’

PARIS: Swedish-born actor Max von Sydow, whose seven-decade career saw him go from starring in iconic art-house movies by Ingmar Bergman to appearing in English-language hits including “The Exorcist” and “Game of Thrones,” has died in France aged 90, his family said.
“It is with a broken heart and with infinite sadness that we have the extreme pain of announcing the departure of Max von Sydow” on Sunday, said a statement sent to AFP.
Von Sydow took French citizenship in 2002 and renounced his Swedish nationality, but remains fondly remembered in his homeland.
With chiselled features and piercing blue eyes, von Sydow became a recognizable face during a career that mixed genres and languages and saw him play vulnerable heroes and evil villains.
“He was one of the world’s greatest actors,” said the former president of the Cannes film festival Gilles Jacob.
“He could play troubling roles but Max had a delicacy and a humanity that were so moving.”
In 1973, he became part of horror movie history in “The Exorcist” where he portrayed a priest trying to rid a possessed young girl of her ldemons.
More recently, von Sydow appeared in blockbusters such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the hit television HBO series “Game of Thrones” making him a familiar face to millions in the later part of his life.
His career began more humbly in the early 1950s on the theater stages of Stockholm and then Malmo, where he met the man who would help forge his career — Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
It is von Sydow’s collaboration with Bergman in art-house films often laden with existential angst — now seen as all-time classics — that are likely to be his best-remembered roles.
In one of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema, von Sydow played the knight who has a chess game with death on a lonely beach in “The Seventh Seal” from 1957.
He appeared in numerous other Bergman movies, notably “The Virgin Spring” and “Through a Glass Darkly” as well as the English-language “The Touch” in which he starred alongside American actor Elliott Gould.
He also worked with fellow Scandinavian acting great Liv Ullmann on Jan Troell’s 1971 masterpiece “The Emigrants” about a group of impoverished Swedes moving to the United States. It received several Oscar nominations.
Von Sydow was twice nominated for Academy Awards, first in 1989 for his role in “Pelle the Conqueror” and then in 2012 for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” about an 11-year-old boy whose father dies in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
One of his final roles was as a stern Russian admiral in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2018 English-language film about the 2000 Kursk Russian submarine disaster.
Von Sydow had two sons with his first wife Christina Olin. He married his second wife, French documentary filmmaker Catherine Brelet, in 1997, and the couple lived together in France.
He had to renounce his Swedish citizenship in 2002 when he acquired French nationality.
“I want to live in France. And I want to die in France,” he told newspaper Aftonbladet in 2012.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.