‘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

  • 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.


Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

Updated 12 min 3 sec ago

Top Kazakh family wins court ruling on London mansions

  • Evidence that Dariga Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them
  • Properties located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as Billionaires’ Row and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31m

LONDON: The daughter and grandson of a former Kazakhstan president won a British court ruling Wednesday over plans to seize three multimillion-pound London properties from the family.
The UK’s National Crime Agency had obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the luxury properties, said to be worth a total of around £80 million ($96 million), last May.
UWOs, brought into force in January 2018 under so-called “McMafia laws” — named after a BBC organized crime drama — allows the NCA to seize assets if they believe the owner is a “politically exposed person” and unable to explain the source of their wealth.
The NCA said the properties’ purchases were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, a former senior member of the Kazakh government who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder.
However, in a High Court judgment, given remotely, judge Beverley Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that “the NCA’s assumption” that Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was “unreliable.”
The ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties — Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — had applied to the High Court to discharge the UWOs.
The judge added that there was “cogent evidence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.
Following the ruling, Nurali Aliyev said the NCA had carried out a “flawed investigation.”
“The NCA deliberately ignored the relevant information I voluntarily provided and pursued a groundless and vicious legal action, including making shocking slurs against me, my family and my country,” he said in a statement.
“Today we have been vindicated.”
The properties were located across London, including one on a wealthy street known as “Billionaires’ Row” and another which campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31 million.
A Nazarbayeva representative said the court decision left her “entirely vindicated” and showed she had “not been involved in any wrongdoing.”
“Dr. Nazarbayeva is also deeply disappointed that the NCA thought it appropriate to use the cloak of these court proceedings to make damaging attacks on her reputation and her country, unfairly insulting Dr. Nazarbayeva and her 18 million compatriots.”