Jan Troell

Jan Troell

Jan Troell at the 2013 Stockholm Film Festival
Born Jan Gustaf Troell
(1931-07-23) 23 July 1931
Limhamn, Malmö, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Occupation Film director
Years active 1966–present
Spouse(s) Agneta Ulfsäter

Jan Gustaf Troell (born 23 July 1931) is a Swedish film director. Usually, Troell writes his own scripts and serves as his own director of photography. His realistic films, with a lyrical photography in which nature is prominent, have placed him in the first rank of modern Swedish film directors along with Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg.

Life and career

Troell was born in Limhamn outside Malmö, Sweden. For several years, he worked as an elementary-school teacher but started to make short films in the sixties. In 1965 he co-produced the film 4x4 and it was entered into the 4th Moscow International Film Festival.[1] He became director of photography for Widerberg but soon made a debut with his own first feature, Here's Your Life (Här har du ditt liv, 1966), about a working class boy in Sweden, set in the beginning of the 20th century. The film was based upon an autobiographical novel by Eyvind Johnson. For the film he won the Guldbagge Award for Best Director at the 4th Guldbagge Awards.[2] His next film Who Saw Him Die? (Ole dole doff, 1968) won the Golden Bear award at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.[3]

Troell's major work in the 1970s became The Emigrants (Utvandrarna, 1971) and its sequel The New Land (Nybyggarna, 1972), two epic films about some peasants emigrating from the barren Swedish countryside to America in the 19th century. Once again, Troell films were based upon the novels of a Swedish working-class author, in this case Vilhelm Moberg's famous Emigrants suite. As in many of Troell's films, Max von Sydow plays one of the major roles. The Emigrants was nominated for several Academy Awards.[4]

After a brief and unsuccessful sojourn in Hollywood, which resulted in the films Zandy's Bride (1974), starring Gene Hackman, and Hurricane (1979), Troell made Flight of the Eagle (Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd, 1982). It is a film about S. A. Andrée's disastrous Arctic balloon expedition of 1897. The Flight of the Eagle was nominated for the Academy Awards (foreign-language film).

The release of Il Capitano: A Swedish Requiem (Il Capitano, 1991) became controversial since the film is based upon a true story; the brutal murder of a Swedish family just a few years earlier (see Juha Valjakkala). Yet, it concentrates on the psychological power game between the murderer and his girlfriend rather than the violence of the crime. He was awarded with the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[5] It also won the award for Best Film at the 27th Guldbagge Awards.[6]

Troell has also made documentaries, for instance Land of Dreams (Sagolandet, 1988), dealing with modern society's alienation from nature and A Frozen Dream (En frusen dröm, 1997) in which he once again brings up Andrée's polar expedition. Troell took part of an extensive poll by Sight & Sound, where he revealed his favorite films to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hugo, Modern Times, Hour of the Wolf, The Night of the Hunter and Some Like It Hot.

Despite his age (he is currently in his 80s), Troell has remained productive. His recent films include As White as in Snow (Så vit som en snö, 2001), based on the life of Swedish aviator Elsa Andersson; a documentary called Presence (Närvarande, 2003); Everlasting Moments (Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick, 2008), based on the life of Maria Larsson, a 20th-century, working class photographer; and his latest film, The Last Sentence (Dom över död man).,[7] a biographical film about the Swedish publicist Torgny Segerstedt. The Last Sentence premiered in November 2012 at the Stockholm International Film Festival. At the same festival Troell was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Fiction feature films

Year English title Original title Source material
1965 4x4
1966 Here's Your Life Här har du ditt liv Här har du ditt liv! by Eyvind Johnson
1968 Who Saw Him Die? Ole dole doff Ön sjunker by Clas Engström
1971 The Emigrants Utvandrarna The Emigrants and Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg
1972 The New Land Nybyggarna Unto a Good Land, The Settlers and The Last Letter Home by Vilhelm Moberg
1974 Zandy's Bride The Stranger by Lillian Bos Ross
1977 Bang! Orgeladjunkten by Sven Christer Swahn
1979 Hurricane The Hurricane by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
1982 Flight of the Eagle Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd by Per Olof Sundman
1991 Il Capitano: A Swedish Requiem Il capitano
1996 Hamsun Processen mod Hamsun by Thorkild Hansen
2001 As White as in Snow Så vit som en snö Den ofullbordade himlen by Jacques Werup
2008 Everlasting Moments Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick Att människan levde: en släktkrönika by Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell
2012 The Last Sentence Dom över död man

Documentary feature films

Year English title Original title
1988 Land of Dreams Sagolandet
1997 A Frozen Dream En frusen dröm
2003 Presence Närvarande
2007 Tune Färgklang
2011 Kalla ingenting för sent

Short films

Year Title Minutes
1960 Stad 25
1961 Sommartåg 14
1961 Nyårsafton på skånska slätten 7
1962 Pojken och draken 30
1962 En broder mer 20
1962 De kom tillbaka 24
1962 Båten 21
1963 Drömmar och syner vid havet 25
1964 Trakom 15
1964 Johan Ekberg 21
1964 Den gamla kvarnen 10
1965 Vår i Dalby hage 4
1965 Uppehåll i myrlandet 30
1965 Porträtt av Åsa 29
1975 Nålsögat 29
1989 Tolvslaget - dagens dikt 7
1994 Dansen 20
1997 ... och barnen i äppelträdet 25
2000 92,8 MHz ... drömmar i söder 30
2002 Reflexion 2001 7
2004 The Yellow Tag 10
2010 Med mitt mått mätt – en ökenvandring 6

Cinematography only

Year Title Director
1963 The Baby Carriage Bo Widerberg


  1. "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  2. "Här har du ditt liv (1966)". Swedish Film Institute. 1 March 2014.
  3. "Berlinale 1968: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-03-05.
  4. "The 44th Academy Awards (1972) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  5. "Berlinale: 1992 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  6. "Il Capitano (1991)". Swedish Film Institute. 17 March 2014.
  7. "The Last Sentence (2012)". Swedish Film Database. Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
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