Max von Sydow
plays Fridtjof Nansen
International film star, Max von Sydow, turned down the part of Roald Amundsen in 'The Last Place on Earth' in favour of the role of Fridtjof Nansen, the doyen of Polar explorers. It was a considered decision on the part of the acclaimed Swedish actor, based on research he did into Polar exploration for another film 'The Flight of the Eagle' in 1981.
"Over the years" says Von Sydow, "Nansen became the great authority on the Arctic and Antarctic. He had a great empathy with the outdoors, and a love of skiing, sailing and hiking that stood him in good stead on his travels."
Nansen had pioneered many of the techniques later employed by Amundsen, even going so far as to cut the handles off his toothbrush to save weight. He appreciated the importance of living off the land and especially of using dogs who could eat the indigenous seals and penguins, rather than ponies whose food had to be imported and transported across the ice cap. Both Scott and Amundsen consulted him during the preliminary stages and he gave his advice unstintingly, but it was his compatriot with his greater feeling for nature, who put it to better use.
Max von Sydow was born in Lund, Southern Sweden in 1929. After military service he attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm.
His distinguished film career began in 1957 when he appeared in Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seveth Seal', with the first of eleven films and many stage collaborations with the great radical Swedish director. In 1963 Von Sydow played Christ in the Hollywood production of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told'. Many international film roles followed ranging from 'The Quiller Memorandum' to 'Three Days of the Condor' and 'Excorcist II'.
In 1974 Von Sydow moved to Italy. An early project in his adopted country was Francesco Rosi's film 'Illustrious Corpses'. His reputation is such that he can now pick and choose where he works. Between films in Hollywood, Spain, Mexico, France, Britain and Germany, he made his Broadway debut in 1977 in 'The Night of the Tribads', and returned there in 1981 for 'Duet for One'. His most recent film is 'Dune', the epic science-fiction fantasy on current release.
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