16-year-old Erik Ponti (Andreas Wilson) is sent to a boarding school where he refuses to accept the degrading rules made up by the institution’s older students. Jan Guillou’s books have been filmed a lot in Sweden, but this is the one he appreciates the most, a horrifying account of his experiences at a supposedly respectable boarding school. Launching the international career of director Mikael Håfström, the film takes a discomforting and bloodily realistic look at sadistic rituals among teenagers who believe that they are part of an elite whose authority must be protected. Rather familiar, but emotionally very well wrought, with excellent performances by both veterans and newcomers.
2003-Sweden-Denmark. 113 min. Color. Produced by Hans Lönnerheden, Ingemar Leijonborg. Directed by Mikael Håfström. Screenplay: Mikael Håfström, Hans Gunnarsson. Novel: Jan Guillou. Cinematography: Peter Mokrosinski. Cast: Andreas Wilson (Erik Ponti), Henrik Lundström (Pierre Tanguy), Linda Zilliacus (Marja), Gustaf Skarsgård, Jesper Salén, Marie Richardson… Magnus Roosmann, Johan Rabaeus, Kjell Bergqvist, Lennart Hjulström, Björn Granath, Mats Bergman.
Trivia: Original title: Ondskan. Rabaeus shared some of the same experiences at a boarding school as Guillou.
Last word: “There have been at least five or six attempts to make a film out of this book before because it’s so popular. If you’re a smart producer then, of course, you’re going to say ‘let’s make a film and make a lot of money from this’. But all of these attempts failed for some reason. Even the author himself, Jan Guillou, wrote the script from his own book but he read the script and he said to me it was quite shitty, so it never came to anything. So I was asked by my producer friend to try to write the script from the book and I took in a guy that I’d worked with before – a writer of short stories. So we wrote the script pretty quickly and financed the film pretty quickly and shot it pretty quickly, so after we started it was a short period of time.” (Håfström, indieLondon)