onsdag 3 april 2024

• Review

Eddie Gustafsson


“The most gorgeous Swedish production made-to-date.”

I stand in complete awe, a Swedish production has done it again, what an amazing few years for Swedish Film & TV. We have gone from frightening horror and touching dramas to astonishing live action adaptations in just a couple of years. Netflix’s ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024) is the latest high-budget production to hit streaming, and what a well-produced show we’ve been treated to. Below you find our reviewers thoughts on the latest ‘Astrid Lindgren’ adaptation.

Image courtesy of Netflix. ©2022 Viaplay Group Sweden AB, Filmlance International AB, Film i Väst AB and Ahil UAB All rights reserved

Believe it or not, this is not the first live-action adaptation of ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER’, which was first published in 1981 as a children’s book. In both 1984 and 2014 we saw film and series adaptations respectively of the classic tale written by beloved Swedish author ‘Astrid Lindgren’. The 1984 film has a special place in many people’s hearts, and while not my personal favorite, it is surely a highlight of Swedish Film & Television programing.

“It was a highlight back then, and it will be an instant classic once again.”

That is my view of the series’ first part. It is ‘greatly cast’, ‘exceptionally produced’ and ‘visually gorgeous.’ This new adaptation is, in terms of production quality, on a whole other level to put it lightly. This show will most certainly be in my ‘top 5’ best shows of 2024, especially if the ‘part 2’ delivers the same kind of quality as todays reviewed ‘part 1’ did. Swedish global productions are taking to the prime-time stage, and ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024) is here to lead the way.

Image courtesy of Netflix. ©2022 Viaplay Group Sweden AB, Filmlance International AB, Film i Väst AB and Ahil UAB All rights reserved

The story of Astrid Lindgren’s ‘RONJA RÖVARDOTTER / RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER’ follows a girl (RONJA) and a boy (BIRK). RONJA & BIRK comes from two different robber’s families. They become the best of friends even when their families resent each other, especially their fathers whose story goes far into the past. Together RONJA & BIRK explore the Swedish wilderness where they must avoid dangerous creatures such as gnomes, trolls and harpies (Vildvittror in Swedish). Un-knowing of their secret friendships their families dispute continues over the winter. One day however, the two children revolt upon their families and run away together into the forest to live in a cave… This decision does not make it any less tense in the ‘Mattis-forrest’. And the story continues from there…

This story might not seem like anything special. But it is filled with magic moments and relevant themes. The scriptwriter for the new live action show is Hans Rosenfeldt, with additional credits also going to Astrid Lindgren. Whereas A. Lindgren sadly passed away in 2002, I think she would be deeply proud of this production. As proud as I feel for it being a Swedish production and live-action adaptation. 

“It is the best Swedish show I have got to experience to date.”

What makes this into such a well-produced show is for example the remarkable VFX, casting, and story enactment. The budget for ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024) is certainly high. (I have heard) So that may be one of the reasons to its many great achievements. The digital CGI indeed looks fitting for the story and much better than I initially expected. The ‘harpies’ looks weirdly realistic and at times really frightening. It should be mentioned that this show includes some ‘frightening’ elements, that could possibility scare the youngest. I however, happily welcome it, as it makes the show feel more ‘grown-up’. The sets & environments of the show are just through and through splendid. The Swedish wilderness really gets to shine in the most beautiful of light. Certain shots are bewildering, and I could not get enough of it. As for the VFX the show is overly great. As for the environments, the show is striking to put words on it. Sweden’s nature is indeed breathtaking at times.

Image courtesy of Netflix. ©2022 Viaplay Group Sweden AB, Filmlance International AB, Film i Väst AB and Ahil UAB All rights reserved

As for the casting, it is as breathtaking as everything else surrounding this show. Kerstin Linden (RONJA) is amazing, she is absolutely one of Sweden’s rising actresses for the coming years and plays RONJA with so much emotion. Jack Bergenholtz-Henriksson (BIRK) is also exceptional. While it took somewhat longer to get to know him in terms of his character (perhaps because of not as much screen time) He has nonetheless grown on me throughout the six-episode ‘part 1’. Their updated character designs have also grown on me as the season progressed. It took some time to get used to minor changes, (like hair) that the production made for both RONJA & BIRK. But in the end, I feel like their updated look suits this adaptation of A. Lindgrens work.

Furthermore, actors/actresses such as Christopher Wagellin (Mattis), Krista Kosonen (Lovis), and Johan Ulveson (Skalle-Per) among others, also played their respective parts with honesty and emotion. All parts have great chemistry on screen, which I think is one of reasons for why the performances are delivered with such authenticity. The emotion sent out through their expressive ‘facial’ acting is exceptional and truly gets to you. Some scenes with Kerstin Linden and Christopher Wagellin are just pure chef’s kiss. Having a lot of emotion in your face, I think, is one key to a great performance.

“The casting is impeccable.”

This show truly has all the keys it needs. The potential is great, and it delivers on so many aspects. However, the show has some flaws, it is indeed not one-hundred-percent perfect. Achieving one-hundred-percent perfection is nearly impossible. The show does not have any major fallbacks, one false line delivery or two, some sound mixing that could have been ‘more powerful’ at times. It is small things like that which I noticed during my watch through. What I also noticed was a tiny bit of inadequate editing, the same goes for some other aspects, some tiny details here and there. It will in the end affect our rating for the show, but it did not really affect my overall viewing experience since it was only minor things. What I can assure you, as you will notice by our rating, there are many more positives surrounding this show than negatives.

Image courtesy of Netflix. ©2022 Viaplay Group Sweden AB, Filmlance International AB, Film i Väst AB and Ahil UAB All rights reserved

Another thing which ‘cannot’ be considered minor is the score of ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024), it is ethereal. The classic tones of the older ‘RONJA’ works are modernized and intervened into a new score from Johan Söderqvist that simply rocks. It is not any pop-music or rock notes we get to hear, but simply the mood of the show and its atmosphere put into gorgeous high & low-notes.

To continue, this show, in its complete package, truly feels like an honest adaptation of ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER’. I am no expert on this particular story by Astrid Lindgren, but I feel like they did the original material justice, and still made some small adaptive changes. Sure, the pacing was a bit too quick at some instances, if you were to consult me. But it is such a minor thing that it’s not even really worth to bring up. The story at heart works well and moves you emotionally at various times. It may not include multiverse travel or epic fight scenes, but the friendship between a boy and a girl can move you quite a bit it turns out. It’s a touching story that we get to see play out, but also a sad one, and at times even a frightening one. 

“It is solid mix of emotions that pulls one through the screen.”

What also comes through are some magnificent seasonal sets. I cannot stop talking about them. Getting to see this fortress (Mattis borgen) in Spring, Summer, and Winter is such a sight. The Swedish landscape at hand is gorgeously shot through out multiple scenes and lenses. Nature plays a big role in ‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024), it really shows, and it is absolutely one of the shows highlights together with the splendid performances. I will also not forget to mention that the ‘intro visuals/theme’ of the show are quite remarkable. The overall visual language of the first part is ludicrous, if that is a good word to use. Cinematographer Frida Wendel, and director Lisa James Larsson definitely know what needs to be done to make it all blend together.

Image courtesy of Netflix. ©2022 Viaplay Group Sweden AB, Filmlance International AB, Film i Väst AB and Ahil UAB All rights reserved

‘RONJA THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER: PART 1’ (2024) is a true powerhouse when it comes to Swedish production for film & TV. It is the best I personally have seen, as of today’s date (240403). The show is not one-hundred-percent perfect, it has some filler-content, some line deliveries gone wrong, and maybe some rough editing. But it is so rare that the sea of positive aspects rise above the negatives, by miles. The show has perfect casting, jaw-dropping visuals and a story that is sure move you. Even when the whole story is not out yet (part 2 coming later in 2024), I can affirm you this is one Swedish highlight of the 2020s. The show will therefore, from us at TMC, receive a rating of:

Part 1 screened for review. Part 2 coming later in 2024.

Additional sources: Wikipedia 

BETYG:4,5 / 5

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The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™

The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™