I guess we know how that chess game ended

As a kid, Emperor Ming terrified me, while as an adult I found appreciation for the drawn-out game of chess between Death and nihilistic Danish crusader Antonius Block. In between, I saw the same familiar face show up as one of the best classic Bond villains and in most of the good sci-fi films of the 80s and 90s from the sands of Dune to the dystopian wastelands of Judge Dredd.

Carl Adolf “Max” von Sydow, the consummate professional of European filmmaking who lent his chops to numerous works on this side of the pond, died in France this week, aged 90, leaving a history of more than 100 films behind.

A son of Swedish aristocrats, he did his military service in 1947-48 as a lowly enlisted man in the Intendenturkåren, the Army Quartermaster Corps, in some of the scariest times of the early days of the Cold War, sandwiched between shadowy Nazi remnants using Scandanavia as a way station on their way to Latin America, and an immensely powerful Soviet Red military machine that was making en roads to the kingdom of the three crowns almost daily. Ironically, he would go on to play both a German WWII Army Major (Victory, 1980) and a Russian Navy Admiral (Kursk, 2018), among others.

Fun fact: it was during his time in uniform that Von Sydow picked up his nickname, Max, after attending a traveling flea circus, showing that your stint in the service often carries with you for the rest of your life.

I guess Max has rejoined the big army.

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