Max von Sydow received his first Oscar nomination so far for portraying Lasse in Pelle the Conqueror.
The film actually is most about how the son Pelle is treated and how interacts by and with the local populace, not about Lasse the father. This makes Sydow almost supporting in the film. von Sydow has almost a nonexistent role sometimes in the film, where it almost completely goes away from him. In fact almost every scene he is in is him reacting to something that has happened, or to something his son has done, his character is very reactive.
Sydow basically has to one thing a whole lot which is be a supportive loving father, but also one aware of the reality of their situation leaving a somewhat somber quality of his performance. Sydow has many scenes showing a concerned face, and talking warmly with his son. Sydow is fine, warm, caring without overdoing it, as well as he has the right weakness in his character, always expressed through a certain exhaustion always presented through his performance.
Sydow gives a realistic performance, I never did see any obvious acting. Sydow is good in the scenes where he is the weaker, and fights with Pelle a little bit, showing how it all comes from Lasse's desperation that has been onset for some time. It is a simple character in quite a few ways, and everything Sydow does do is well acted. At the same time though I was quite underwhelmed by the overall effect of his work.
I don't know his entire performance made me always feel that he was good enough. He is always natural in everyone of his moments with Pelle, but boy his entire performance remains fairly standard. The character never became amazing or anything more than just good enough. Only his final scene did I really feel that he did anything all that special with his performance, but even that was not incredible. Sydow is a great actor, but in the end this is one of those odd career nominations actors are thrown sometimes.