Swedish filmmaker Bo Widerberg is best known internationally for his impressionistic romantic drama Elvira Madigan (1967). Three of his films, All Things Fair (1996), Adalen 31 (1969), and Raven's End (1964), have received Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film. Widerberg started out as a novelist, but turned to filmmaking after writing Visionen i Svensk Film/Vision in Swedish Film (1962), a scathing criticism of Ingmar Bergman's alleged monopoly of Swedish cinema. In his treatise, Widerberg argued for films containing realistic themes dealing with earthier concerns rather than the Bergmanesque tendency to address lofty abstractions on the existence of God. In hopes of creating a "new wave" in Swedish cinema, one that addressed the seething inner lives of characters rather than their neatly unified, socially progressive exteriors, Widerberg made Barnvagnen/Baby Carriage (1963), the story of a young single and pregnant woman who chooses independence over two potential suitors. It was hailed as one of the first Swedish films to accurately portray the foibles and stresses of modern city life. His first film, Pojeken och Daken/A Boy and His Kite (1961), was a short television feature made in collaboration with Jan Troell. Widerberg claims he learned how to make films by watching the films of others and carefully analyzing each scene from back to front. He extended this meticulousness into his work and when making a film has been known to take control of every detail, even down to the color processing of each film. His next film, Kvarteret Korpen/Raven's End (1963), is said to be somewhat autobiographical and while garnering good reviews, the film's offbeat conclusion caused minor controversy. For Elvira Madigan, Widerberg combined romance with the haunting strains of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. The film was so popular that the concerto became known as "the Elvira Madigan Theme." In 1970, Widerberg went to Hollywood to film the internationally successful Joe Hill. After releasing The Serpent's Way (1986), Widerberg did not make another feature until 1995's Lust och Fagring Stor/All Things Fair, which starred his son, Johan Widerberg. In addition to making feature films, Widerberg has also gained a reputation for his television dramas. Widerberg died on May 1, 1997, in a hospital in Angelholm, Sweden, at age 66.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Verkade som romanförfattare och tidningsskribent på 1950-talet och fick tack vare detta erbjudande om att skriva sitt första kortfilmsmanus, vilket resulterade i Pojken och draken (1961).
- År 1963 kom filmregidebuten med dramat Barnvagnen och samma år släpptes Kvarteret Korpen.
- Blev internationellt uppmärksammad för sitt drama Elvira Madigan (1967), bland annat för det originella färgfotot.
- Fick efter Mannen på taket (1976) allt svårare att finansiera sina filmer på grund av samarbetssvårigheter med flera av den svenska filmindustrins aktörer.
- Sista långfilmen, Lust och fägring stor (1995) med sonen Johan Widerberg i en av huvudrollerna, renderade i en Guldbagge samt Silverbjörnen vid Berlins filmfestival.
- 2011 kom en biografi om honom med titeln Höggradigt jävla excentrisk, skriven av Mårten Blomkvist.