‘Arn’ ready to conquer Scandinavia

Epic coin funds Crusader's tale

With its budget of $30 million, “Arn” is by far the most expensive film project ever made in Scandinavia.

Naturally, a production of this size could make even the most experienced producer a bit nervous. But Waldemar Bergendahl, the seasoned producer at Svensk, seems calm about the pic.

“We’ve done a lot of pre-production, and we have basically everything financed in advance,” he says.

The epic “Arn” is based on a bestselling trilogy by author Jan Guillou that follow the adventures of 12th century Swedish soldier and scholar Arn. His big love is Cecilia, who is forced into a nunnery while he is sent to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades. But on his way back to his homeland, Arn has to fight for his love and to unify the different parts of Sweden into one land.

“I know that it can be difficult to make a period film credible, but I think we have succeeded. To me, the film feels like a Scandi ‘Braveheart,'” says helmer Peter Flinth.

The three books will be turned into two two-hour films that are being shot back to back. The first one will open locally Dec. 25, with the second set for some time in 2008.

“The plan is to edit them together into a three-hour international version,” says Bergendahl, who has secured coin from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Finland.

Of the 110 shooting days, 25 were spent in Morocco, with the rest of the film shot on the Swedish west coast. There will be some digital effects added, though Bergendahl says he tried to avoid too much of this, citing films where thousands of digital soldiers all look exactly alike.

“The size of the film doesn’t scare me; the pressure comes from making two films based on such popular books. But I have my vision, and I will live up to it,” Flinth says.

Newcomer Joakiom Natterqvist limns the eponymous title character, with Sofia Helin (“Dalecarlians” and “Nina Frisk”) as his love interest. High-profile thesps Stellan Skarsgard, Bibi Andersson and Michael Nyqvist round out the cast.

Svensk will kick off international sales of “Arn” on May 21 in Cannes with Natterqvist, Helin and Skarsgard in tow and buyers getting a 10 minutes of clips.

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