Flight of the Eagle

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Flight of the Eagle
Flight of the eagle poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jan Troell
Produced by Jörn Donner
Göran Setterberg
Written by Screenplay:
Jan Troell
Georg Oddner
Ian Rakoff
Klaus Rifbjerg
Per Olof Sundman
Starring Max von Sydow
Sverre Anker Ousdal
Göran Stangertz.
Music by Carl-Axel Dominique
Hans-Erik Philip
Cinematography Jan Troell
Edited by Jan Troell
Release date
  • 26 August 1982 (1982-08-26) (Sweden)
Running time
140 minutes
Country Sweden
West Germany
Language Swedish
Budget 20 million SEK

Flight of the Eagle (Swedish: Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd) is a Swedish biographical drama film which was released to cinemas in Sweden on 26 August 1982,[1] directed by Jan Troell, based on Per Olof Sundman's novelization of the true story of S. A. Andrée's Arctic balloon expedition of 1897, an ill-fated effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members perished. The film stars Max von Sydow as S.A. Andrée, Sverre Anker Ousdal as Knut Frænkel and Göran Stangertz as Nils Strindberg. Dutch-Swedish songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk plays the role of the journalist Lundström.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 55th Academy Awards.[2] Many sequences from the film were used in the 1997 documentary A Frozen Dream (En frusen dröm), also directed by Troell.



The early drafts for a script were written in 1977, and the same year a team consisting of Jan Troell, the producer Bengt Forslund, the original writer of the novel Per Olof Sundman and a few other people went to Spitsbergen for location scouting. Troell was at the time in the post-production process of his film Bang!, and when Bang! was selected for the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, the plan was to use the festival to attract investors. However, Bang! was poorly received and the interest faded even from the Swedish Film Institute. The project was put on hold and Troell went to the United States to direct Hurricane, an assignment he was offered after the previous director Roman Polanski had suddenly left the country to avoid sentencing for unlawful sexual intercourse with a thirteen-year-old in Los Angeles.[3]

When Troell returned to Sweden, and the film institute had gotten Jörn Donner as its new managing director, the project was revived. In May 1979 the new writing process started, this time led by Georg Oddner and Klaus Rifbjerg, with Donner himself as producer. The financing was difficult, not least because it coincided with the making of Fanny and Alexander, at the time the most expensive Swedish film ever made.[3] However, Troell said he regarded all the film's expensive visuals as "background", and that "What excited me was the tragic quest and the characters of Andrée and his comrades.[4]


The film premiered on 26 August 1982 in Gränna, the hometown of Andrée.[5] It was entered into the 1982 Venice Film Festival, where Max von Sydow won the Pasinetti Award for Best Actor. A VHS version was released in Sweden in November 2000. Distributor Studio S released a blu-ray edition, with Swedish and English subtitles, on 9 October 2017.

Critical reception

The Swedish critics were generally very positive about the film. It was praised for its attention to details and how complete it felt in a review in Göteborgs-Posten by Monika Tunbäck-Hanson: "It is the overall approach and the fixed grip that contemporary Swedish films are so often lacking. Jan Troell lacks neither."[3] Hans Erik Hjertén at Dagens Nyheter made a comparison to Troell's previous films: "The smallness of the humans, ripped from the larger community, is cleverly demonstrated by Troell by letting Strindberg at a distance cover his comrades with a single finger! In such details, the storyteller Troell has always had his strength and has it here too, but he is more restrained than before, it appears to me. Here is not the same profusion of lyrical whims as in previous films."[3]

Internationally the film was also well received. Vincent Canby expressed in a review for The New York Times how he would like to know more about which parts of the story that were derived directly from Andrée's journal and which were speculation. He further wrote that the film "leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Yet the adventure is both panoramic and unusually intimate. Toward the end of the expedition, the personal drama of the three men, as they are overtaken by fate, is detailed with an intensity that is as moving as the earlier sequences are spectacular."[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd" (in Swedish). Swedish Film Database. 26 August 1982. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  2. ^ "The 55th Academy Awards (1983) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  3. ^ a b c d Press reaction and comments at the Swedish Film Institute (in Swedish)
  4. ^ Sragow, Michael (June 9, 1983). "Jan Troell: Hypnotist on a Grand Scale". Rolling Stone (397): 50.
  5. ^ The Swedish Film Institute - Visningar (in Swedish)
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (1983-04-08) "SWEDEN'S 'FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE'." The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-05-10.

External links

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