The film, based on Swedish novelist Jan Guillou’s stories, stars a number of big Swedish names including Stellan Skarsgård, his son Gustaf Skarsgård and Bergman veteran Bibi Andersson.
Filmed on location in Scotland and the Middle East, the film and its sequel, to be released in late 2008, had a combined budget of 210 million kronor. This makes each individual film more expensive than any other Scandinavian movie ever produced.
The film follows the fortunes of Arn Magnusson (Joakim Nätterqvist), born on a farm in western Sweden in 1150. He grows up to become a skilled swordsman, and is sent as a Knight Templar to fight in the wars between Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. On his return he faces a new battle: to unite Sweden into one kingdom.
Skarsgård junior made an impression the press conference accompanying Monday’s premiere. Aftonbladet reports his description of the ‘special feeling’ of carrying a sword.
“There is no better penis extension,” he said, to which father Stellan chipped in: “Gustaf, I have tried to create the illusion that Skarsgårds don’t need penis extensions.”
‘Arn’ has had a turbulent history, with Swedish public TV company SVT backing out of sponsoring the film. Rival commercial TV company TV4 later offered to become the film’s main backer instead.
The film will go on general release in Sweden on Christmas Day, but it will be some time before audiences outside the Nordic Region will get a chance to see it. The international version will be a combination of the current film and the sequel, and will not be released before the sequel opens in Scandinavia in late 2008.