While “comic book movies” are staples of Hollywood entertainment, the same can not be said in Swedish pop culture. But today, one of the few Scandinavian comic book based movies comes out; the Swedish movie Alena, based on Kim W. Andersson’s graphic novel.
Based on the award-winning graphic novel Alena by Kim W. Andersson, Alena premieres theatrically on August 19 after having been shown as a 60 minute “long short film” on Swedish television last summer. Directed by Daniel di Grado, the story is about a young girl’s life. Since Alena started going to an upper class boarding school she has been harassed every day by Filippa and the girls in the lacrosse team. However, her only friend Josefin isn’t going to let Alena take shit anymore. Not from the counselor nor the headmaster, not from Filippa nor anyone else. If Alena won’t fight back, Josefin is going to take matters into her own hands. There’s only one problem. Josefin has been dead for a year.
The film adaption came to be after Andersson (pictured below) had worked on the graphic version of the Engelsfors books, originally written by Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, who last year had their first book turned into the Benny “ABBA” Andersson-produced fantasy movie The Circle. Elfgren introduced Andersson to producer Alexander Rönnberg and director Daniel di Grado, who wanted to adapt Andersson’s graphic novel Alena to the movie format.
-There are quite some differences [between the comic book and the movie], and I think it should be like that, because a film is a different medium. The book is very much inspired by horror movies, particularly Brian De Palma’s Carrie, which I like a lot. [The graphic novel] is very filmic, so maybe it was a little bit easier to make a film of it. I never really dared to hope that it would ever be turned into a movie, though, Andersson said to Serienett. He was also part of the film’s preproduction; he co-wrote the script, and contributed to designs and the near all-girl casting. -It’s weird seeing your comic book characters come to life too. I made these girls up years ago and now they’re [alive] and breathing and in a movie, Andersson (who is not related to the pop composer) said after screening the film’s teaser in Stockholm last year.
Alena – a wordplay on the Swedish word for alone and the name Lena – is not Andersson’s most recent project; he is now working on the graphic sci-fi tale Astrid, to be released in December by Dark Horse in the US. Astrid is “Indiana Jones in space”, Andersson says. Maybe a film adaption is on the horizon for that franchise as well?
The film’s critical reception has been mixed, with ratings ranging from one of five (Kommunalarbetaren) to four of five (Moviezine). The average rating from 8 professional Swedish reviewers is 2.4 of 5 as of the day before the premiere.
Professionally produced with money from Moving Sweden, a project within the Swedish Film Institute, the 83 minute feature Alena stars Amalia Holm, Molly Nutley, Felice Jankell, Rebecka Nyman, Fanny Klefelt, Marie Senghore, Malin Persson, Helena af Sandeberg, Johan Ehn and Ulrika Ellemark.