Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson first drew notice Stateside for helming the game-changing vampire drama Let the Right One In. Blending unapologetic gore with the tender but troublesome tale of young love that develops between a bullied young boy and the mysterious girl next door, Alfredson won over horror and art house fans alike. Then, he followed up with the ambitious espionage epic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which won widespread critical acclaim and scored three Oscar nods including a long-overdue nomination for the incomparable Gary Oldman.
Curiously, one of the few things these two films have in common—aside from critical praise—is both are inspired by novels. So, it's not surprising that Twitch (via Screen Daily) got word that Alfredson's latest project is another adaptation. More specifically, Alfredson has purchased the movie rights to Astrid Lindgren's The Brothers Lionheart, a Swedish fantasy novel that was written for children but is noted for its incredibly dark themes.
The two brothers at the story's center are Jonatan and Karl Lion, who are 13 and 9 respectively. At the story's start, Karl is fatally ill. To comfort him, Jonatan tells him of the where he'll travel to once he dies, a wondrous world called Nangijala, a place of "the campfires and storytelling days." However, it is Jonatan who dies after nobly rescuing his sickly little brother from a horrible house fire. Grieving and lonely, Karl wonders if Nangijala is real, and if his own death will reunite him with his late brother. When his illness takes him two months later, Karl finds himself in the land his brother foretold, and here is where their adventure begins. Here is where the boys will both prove their bravery as they fight the evil forces of Tengil, who rules the land with the backing of a fire-breathing dragon.
The book, which was originally published in 1973, was first adapted into a feature in Sweden in 1977, but with Alfredson's sterling reputation, his version is sure to have a wider international appeal. Still, his Brothers Lionheart is in the earliest stages of development; there's no word yet on who Alfredson is eyeing to translate the tale into a screenplay. Still, this deeply dark tale of childhood, bravery and death seems perfectly suited to Alfredson's understated and unafraid aesthetic. Here's hoping this picture will come together sooner than later.
Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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