BLOG: The film opened in France and Germany this past week with the latest
reviews appearing to be a carbon copy of what has been written since it opened in August.
I was amused by French newspaper Libération's review in which critic Alexis
Bernier claims that the only interest is in the "bergmanienne"
performance by Stellan Skarsgård. Ingmar would be proud. The German web site, MPeX.net,
pointed out that Merrin's "inconspicuous and nevertheless charismatic nature embeds
itself into the story without him particularly standing out as a notable hero." And
Stellan's homeland newspaper, Aftonbladet, noted that he is convincing and
gives a surprisingly serious and dignified interpretation of the cynical priest.
Surprisingly? The French magazine, L'Ecran Fantastique, decided to give the film
an amazing three stars with their cover featuring Izabella Scorupco unveiled in her
demonic splendor. Fortunately, American audiences were never exposed to this publicity so
that the film held some surprise.
Outside of the states, the rest of the world often seems confused about
exactly who's in the movie, such as this cast - Skarsgård, James D'Arcy, Clara Bellar and
Gabriel Mann. Now we have three priests and no one to exorcise. In an interview with Ms.
Bellar [from the Schrader version], she describes her role - "My character's name is
Rachel, and she's a Jewish woman from Europe who survived a concentration camp during the
second World War. Rachel is now in Kenya in a small village working for the Red Cross, and
she devotes her life to saving people's lives. She's a survivor. She inspires others. She
didn't lose her faith. And Stellan's character lost his faith. It's somewhere inside of
him, deep down, but it's still there."
Sometimes you have to wonder if some reviewers even saw the film! A German
cinema site referred to this photo of Father Francis leaning over Joseph with this caption
- "Pater Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) findet im Angesicht des Bösen seinen Glauben
wieder und exorziert auf Teufel komm raus." This error has appeared several times
elsewhere. Another observation is that often publications don't give a critique but rather
opt for an overview of the whole production fiasco, which seems to appeal to them as the
more interesting story. Though the DVD isn't expected out until January, there's one
selling on Ebay right now out of Australia, but in Region 1 format. I'll be curious as to
what it finally sells for. By the way, there's a video interview with Stellan and co-star
James D'Arcy at
And here's a couple more photos...
of Libération, I've posted and 'loosely' translated their 5/21/03 interview with
Stellan. It's entitled "The Atypical Scandinavian."
No, I'm not multi-linqual. And another new addition is a recent Q&A with Stellan. I sent him a set of questions
in mid-October while he was filming in Iceland, and after returning to Sweden at the end
of the month, he kindly responded.
There are some new additions to stellanonline.com. First, there is a very
engaging interview with Stellan and co-star Emily Watson. It was
conducted by film critic Sheila Benson back in 1997. A special thanks goes to Pat Richoux
of Nebraska for preserving this gem through the years and an especially warm thank you to
Ms. Benson, who gave her permission to print it. In her comments about the interview, she
writes, "Skarsgård is droll, with a wonderfully funny, utterly self-deprecating
manner. Watson is a clown, who puts on other voices for amusement and to ward off boredom.
Together they're irresistible, so comfortable with one another that they finish each
other's sentences, with a light, lovely, teasing manner." Go read and enjoy!
There are also
a couple new film pages -
GOD AFTON, HERR WALLENBERG
HELEN OF TROY. And the FILMOGRAPHY page has finally been re-designed.
projects for Stellan in 2005: Downloading Nancy with Holly
Hunter & William Hurt starts filming in April and A Doll's House
with Kate Winslet & John Cusack in June.
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING is still pushing through Europe
opening this week in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. Now grossing $58 million
worldwide. Here's a lovely photo of the 'beautiful' Sarah with Father Merrin. Be sure to
click on it for the super size image!
"The power of Christ compels you!"
According to the web site, Monsters and Critics, the release date of BEOWULF AND GRENDEL will be October 10, 2005. However,
there is no confirmation yet of this date at the official web site. Here's an except from
an article in today's edition of the NY Times entitled "In Iceland, Freeze
Frame Takes on New Meaning:"
"Earlier in October, an Icelandic-Canadian-British production of
'Beowulf & Grendel,' an adaptation of the epic poem, experienced a day of
hurricane-force winds on top of a mountain near Vik, a coastal town in the Southeast.
While the cast remained at the base of the mountain, winds at the top gusted to 90 miles
an hour, resulting in enough swirling dust to give the set the appearance of a Martian
landscape. Flying rocks shattered the back window of an S.U.V. carrying a producer, a
camerman and a reporter - moments after another vehicle up the mountain slid off the road.
Filming for the day was canceled, much to the distaste of Sturla Gunnarsson, the film's
Icelandic director. 'I love filming here,' Mr. Gunnarsson said, barely noticing two
producers trying fervently to talk him into coming off the mountain. 'We can survey
locations and then go back to shoot them, and the location is not there any more.' Mr.
Gunnarsson was referring to shooting scenes on the shifting worlds of glaciers."
[Photo caption: Gerard Butler, the "Beowulf" star, and director Sturla
Gunnarsson battle mountain winds.]
Box office results for EXORCIST total more than $51 million worldwide.
It'll open in several more countries this month so this figure will still climb. From the
UK film critics, good words for Stellan...
"Skarsgård invests the material with far more dignity and class than it
"Merrin is undoubtedly an enigmatic character and Skarsgård a
riveting actor, but in this torpid tale, their presence is not enough."
"Skarsgård, in particular, is excellent, lending the entire film a
gravitas that it simply doesnt deserve hes the reason the film gets its
second star." ...View London
"The sole consolation is the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård who
plays Lancaster Merrin." ...Sunday Telegraph
"Skarsgård struggles to maintain some dignity, while Izabella
Scorupco brightens several scenes as a beautiful doctor with a dark secret. This movie had
the potential to be something better but Harlin and Co ruined it all."
quote on Bush:
"I must say that if you're living in a country like Sweden where you don't see any
poverty anywhere, you can become very politically naive and innocent. But even in United
States politics, the Bush administration has done one good thing - it has politicized
Americans by blatantly ignoring human rights. The entire Western world has been more
politicized by the Bush adminstration."
Click here to see the most popular photo of
Stellan on the Internet. Can you name the movie it's from?
Swedish actor and friend, Peter Stormare, (Fargo, Chocolat) is Godfather to
Stellan's son, Gustaf. Stormare and Skarsgård have appeared in one film together - Von
Trier's Dancer in the Dark.
Excerpts from The Reykjavík Grapevine: "Visitors to
Skógar have up until now usually come in small groups and go there for the stunning
Skógarfoss waterfall or visiting the Skógar Folk Museum. These days, however, hovering
around the waterfall you will find hundreds of people dressed in full Viking regalia. They
are not, as you might at first think, employees of the tourist board there to attract
visitors. They are, in fact, extras for
BEOWULF AND GRENDEL,
the most expensive film shot exclusively in Iceland. The Icelandic producers Anna María
Karlsdóttir and Friðrik Þór Friðriksson have managed to secure funding to the tune of
900 million krónur... The Beowulf website claims it is being filmed in places untouched
since the times of old Beowulf himself. I don't know what the roughly 600 inhabitants of
neighbouring Vík í Mýrdal, where most of the cast and crew are staying, would say to
that, but the surroundings certainly are befitting of a fairytale..."
"In the background looms the 62 meter Skógarfoss waterfall... Outside
of shot, a large truck serves as a bridge over the river, driving cast and crew back and
forth.Stellan Skarsgård, formerly the mathematics professor in Good
Will Hunting, most recently the badass Saxon chief in King Arthur, seems to
be back in mean mode. 'Slap me or be done,' he says to no one in particular.
Unsurprisingly, no one takes him up on this. He is a big man with a big sword, and it's
easy to forget that he's just rehearsing his lines... Gerry Butler claims that 'Stellan is
very un-Swedish; he's slightly insane in the best possible way. He loves a drink and a
smoke. I have a very strong bond with him in the film, as well as offscreen. He was the
person I wanted for the part of Hrothgar and I´m very glad we got him. When I'm acting
with him, he brings up my game, too.'" Butler goes on to say, 'Beowulf is a
reluctant hero who sees another side of Grendel, whom everyone else sees as an evil
force... The story is based on real events, when man had a closer relationship with
nature. This is not a Lord of the Rings-type fantasy world. It's the least
familiar script I've seen in a long time and people are brave to do it.'"