The Brothers Lionheart (1977 film)

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The Brothers Lionheart
Broderna Lejonhjarta.jpg
Swedish DVD cover
Directed by Olle Hellbom
Produced by Olle Nordemar
Olle Hellbom
Written by Astrid Lindgren
Starring Staffan Götestam
Lars Söderdahl
Allan Edwall
Gunn Wållgren
Folke Hjort
Per Oscarsson
Music by Björn Isfält
Lasse Dahlberg
Distributed by Svensk Filmindustri
Release date
  • 23 September 1977 (1977-09-23)(Sweden)
Running time
102 minutes

The Brothers Lionheart (Swedish : Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a Swedish fantasy film which was released to cinemas in Sweden on 23 September 1977, [1] directed by Olle Hellbom and based on the 1973 book of the same name, written by Astrid Lindgren. It won Sweden's Guldbagge Award for Best Director in 1978. [2]


Selected cast


The film was shot in Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. Filming locations included Stockholm for studio interiors and the openings sequence, while Skåne County in Sweden and Århus in Jutland represented Nangijala, while Þingvellir and Dimmuborgir in Iceland represented the lands of Tengil. [3]

Upon release, unique for adaptions of Lindgren’s work, it was given a 11 certificate by the Swedish board of censors, causing the Riksdag to enact an age limit of 7 and above for future films. The film nevertheless maintained the age limit of 11 and above for years until a 7 limit, called “Lex Lejonhjärta”, was deemed acceptable.

The source work is widely considered, although the violent content is much toned down on screen, the most political and violent of Lindgren’s books, involving themes of dictatorship, occupation, treason, democide, war, suicide and forced labour of nigh-Holocaustian reminiscence. Most of the named characters do not survive the film (although its setting in concurrent realities soften this fact). In a cruel quirk of fate, actor Folke Hjort drowned in a diving accident less than three months before its release, a fate shared with his character in the film and book.

Nevertheless, it has maintained its place as one of the most beloved and iconic adaptions, and films overall, although several technical aspects, such as the Katla model, are considered well out of date, and several lines from the film are widely culturally understood and in widespread use, such as “All power to Tengil, our liberator!” (in original Swedish: All makt åt Tengil, vår befriare!), a truism (used ironically out of context) pronounced to proclaim loyalty and submission to the autocratic occupational power of Lord Tengil of Karmanjaka.


Box office

In Sweden, the film grossed SEK 8,963,000 at the box office. [4] Its screenings were attended by 553,000 people. [4]

Differences from the novel

Although the film mostly stays true to the book some notable differences can be seen.

Critical response

The film was well received by Swedish critics. [5] Often interpreting the film in contemporary terms, they compared Staffan Götestam's portrayal of Jonatan to Che Guevara, [5] and Georg Årlin's portrayal of Tengil to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein. [5]


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  1. "Bröderna Lejonhjärta". Swedish Film Database. 23 September 1977. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Awards for Bröderna Lejonhjärta (1977)" . Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  3. "Filming locations for Bröderna Lejonhjärta (1977)" . Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  4. 1 2 "Box office / business for Bröderna Lejonhjärta (1977)" . Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 Holmlund, Christine (2003). "Pippi and Her Pals". Cinema Journal . 42.2 (Winter 2003): 14.