Treasured character set to shine in blockbuster "Askeladden - Mountain King Hall"
Text: Maria Vang Ormhaug
Dream back to Norway, a long, long time ago. The poor farmer’s son Askeladden and his brothers embark on a hazardous quest to save the kingdom’s princess, so they can use the reward to rebuild the family farm. The princess is kidnapped by Dovregubben himself; a mean troll who is said to be impossible to fight.
Norwegian Classic Renewed
Asbjørnsen and Moe’s stories about Askeladden are widely treasured among the Norwegian people. The director of the film, Mikkel Brænne Sandemose, feels lucky to be given the chance to breathe new life into the tales. “At a time when children and adults are under increasing influence of foreign adventure heroes, I see it as a privilege to be allowed to breathe life into our very own Askeladd and let him be a new, charming character also in our time,” says Sandemose.
From Music Videos to Blockbusters
Sandemose, born in 1974, started his film career as an animation assistant to his grandfather before moving on to film school and live action filmmaking. He graduated from the directing program at the Film and Television Academy in 1998. That same year his first short film, I killed a Cyclist, toured festivals in Europe. In 1999 he directed his first music video for the Norwegian artist Bertine Zetlitz, awarded video of the year.
Sandemose has since made many award winning short films and music videos, as well as about 100 commercials. He debuted as a feature film director with Cold Prey III (Fritt Vilt III) in 2010 and followed up with the blockbuster Ragnarok in 2013. The latter won the People’s Amanda and was sold to over 100 countries.
He is more than excited about his latest project.
“Finally, for the first time in a live-action, feature-length motion picture, Espen Askeladd becomes a folk hero for the whole family. In this movie, packed with humor, adventurous excitement and spectacular action scenes, the familiar character will venture on new and exotic journeys, well inspired by the Asbjørnsen and Moe classics,” he says. He promises that Askeladden will meet mythical figures, irritating princes – and not least Dovregubben himself in the film.
Askeladden is portrayd by Vebjørn Enger. After countless audition rounds director Sandemose found the perfect match. Enger has previously performed in Kompani Orheim (2012), where he played Tore Renberg’s popular character Jarle Klepp.
Other cast members include Thorbjørn Harr, who has made it to Hollywood with his roles in Vikings and Younger, Danish actor Allan Hyde (Dryads-girls don’t cry, 2015), Synnøve Macody Lund (Headhunters, 2011) and Mads Sjøgård Pettersen (Kampen om tungtvannet, 2015).
Mikkel Sandemose: The director is honored to present the beloved Askeladden for the Norwegian audience in a new presentation. Photo: Kristoffer Sandven
Action: The film is full of thrill and excitement, promises director Sandemose. Photo: Maipo Film as
Asbjørnsen and Moe
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe are best known as Asbjørnsen and Moe. They collected what today is the most famous volume of Norwegian folk stories, called Asbjørnsen and Moe’s Folktales. Asbjørnsen collected folk tales and legends from the middle of the 1830s, and began working with Jørgen Moe in 1837. The result of their collections was submitted in Norwegian folk tales, collected by P. Chr. Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, published gradually from December 1841. Their big fairytale collection was released in 1951. Their work has had a major influence in Norwegian cultural life, and gained international recognition. Their guiding principle was “tell stories like the people.”
Many artists have illustrated the Asbjørnsen and Moe folktale collection down the years. This is Theodor Kittelsen’s Askeladdens Eventyr. Photo: Nasjonalgalleriet
Askeladden -Mountain King Hall will premiere in Norwegian cinemas in September 2017.