Bergman film star Erland Josephson dies at 88

Swedish actor Erland Josephson, one of fabled director Ingmar Berman’s favorite performers, died Feb. 25 at 88.

Josephson appeared in more than 30 movies, including such Bergman classics as Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982). Photographs here and here show him in bedroom scenes with Berman muse Liv Ullman.

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“Scenes” thrust Josephson onto the world stage. The film “an acting tour de force” with many close-ups, details the beleaguered marriage of Ullmann and her unfaithful husband, played by Josephson.

An overnight sensation only in his 50s, Josephson “was chosen by directors such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Theo Angelopoulos for the qualities he revealed in the Bergman films – a certain self-centred introspection and a deep melancholy, etched on his lined and grizzled features.”

Josephson also remained a theater actor and became Bergman’s successor as director of the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm in 1966.

Josephson was born in Stockholm. His father owned a bookshop, and ancestors and relatives included a composer, painter and theater director. His creative output included screenplays, scripts, and memoirs.

Describing himself once, Josephson said: "I am of the international upper class, the Swedish petit bourgeoisie of Jewish extraction with poor language skills, a conveyor of a few expressions and faces, with some intonation that combines ancient human experience with timely coquetry."

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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