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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Max von Sydow in Person at the Aero

Because of his recent Academy Award nomination the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica has added a special Max von Sydow Double Feature! Here’s a great opportunity to see some of the acclaimed actor’s work on the big screen right along side his most recent nominated performance.

The evening of Monday, February 6 begins at 7:30PM with von Sydow’s 1957 performance as a medieval knight playing chess with "Death" in the iconic Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow will then appear in person for a discussion before the following screening of his recent Oscar-nominated performance in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

I have never seen The Seventh Seal myself, and will be trying my best to make it to Monday’s screening in order to take advantage or this rare event. With more than a 50 year span between the two productions I’m sure von Sydow’s discussion is bound to cover some of his activities between the two films, possibly becoming a mini-discussion on the history of cinema itself. After all, he has participated in some of the most iconic films of all time, including Wild Strawberries, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Three Days of the Condor, Conan the Barbarian, Dune, Hannah and Her Sisters and The Exorcist. That’s a pretty broad spectrum for any actor’s resume, and I only hope the people involved with programming allow enough time for what is anticipated to be a lively conversation.

In case you’re still on the fence, you should know that The Seventh Seal is considered the great Swedish filmmaker’s most iconic film. This is due in large part to the previously mentioned chess game. It is also credited as the movie that helped create the international “art house” craze that continues to this day and has been celebrated in just about every Woody Allen film ever made (seriously, just about every film Allen made in the 70s has him at one point in line for a Bergman film). Of course, you should know that the winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival will be presented in Swedish with English subtitles, but don’t let that keep you from seeing this significant contribution to the art of cinema.

And then after such a heavy slice of art house fare you’ll be ready for the highly enjoyable Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. This heralded 911 film is presented from the point of view of a child who has lost his father in the tragedy. As somber as the subject matter appears to be, the action of this film is all about the journey the child takes to fulfill what he believes to be his father’s last gift to him. It is touching and inspiring in ways you can’t imagine, and von Sydow plays a recluse mute who helps the boy on part of his quest. Honestly, you’ll leave the theater with joy in your heart after seeing this sincere look at loss and healing.

Of course, Von Sydow is terrific in both films, and seeing both performances side by side will make you wonder why this man has yet to receive an Academy Award. Sadly, he’s not likely to this year either. As much as I loved his turn as the silent communicator in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close this appears to be Christopher Plummer’s year to finally get his own long over due statuette. But I promise, once you see this film you too will be hoping for both men to be honored. Of all the categories in this year’s competition this is the one that could come down to a tie. Now that would be very satisfying.

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