(The Slingshot)

Sweden/Denmark 1993

102 minutes

director.gif (905 bytes) Åke Sandgren


Jesper Salén as Roland Schütt
Stellan Skarsgård as Fritiof Schütt
Basia Frydman as Zipa Schütt
Niklas Olund as Bertil Schütt
Ernst-Hugo Järegård as Teacher Lundin
Ernst Günther as Principal
Axel Düberg as Inspector Gissle
Reine Brynolfsson as Hinke Berggren
Heinz Hopf as Shoe salesman
Frida Hallgren as Margit
Tomas Norström as Boxing Trainer
Ing-Marie Carlsson as Karin Adamsson

Swedish Premiere

September 24, 1993



Ten-year-old Roland, Schutt suffers from the Jobian double whammy of having a Jewish mother and a socialist father in Stockholm in the 1920s. Pain pursues Roland: He is beaten by his father, pummeled by his boxer brother, set upon and humiliated by his classmates and brutalized by his teachers. Still he perseveres with wit, ingenuity and an untrammeled sense of self-esteem. Exacerbating his travails, Roland's mother Cipa has established herself as the Margaret Sanger of her working-class enclave by illegally dispensing condoms. Though it endangers the family, the contraband condoms provide Roland with money as well as the elastic he needs for his slingshot.


Filmed in Sweden and the Czech Republic. Most outdoor scenes were shot in Prague as the Stockholm townscape at the time was considered to have undergone too many changes to depict the 1920s.



"With a trio of formidable performances (by Salen, Skarsgård, and Frydman), 'The Slingshot' offers a moving, intriguing look at the difficulties faced by one child set adrift in a sea of bigotry where his own resourcefulness is the key to survival. There's more to this film than is suggested by its apparently-simple story, and it's a tribute to the ability of Ake Sandgren and his cast that so much is effectively realized."  ...Film critic James Berardinelli

"'The Slingshot,' may not equal Truffaut's '400 Blows' or any one of several recent Bergman films as definitive statements about wayward childhood. But Roland, whom fate often treats with disdain, has potential: Sandgren presents his flat face as a unformed map, but one with the intelligence to avoid the shoals and reefs and wreckage of blinkered adults. At least we hope he will. And something to hope for seems enough to ask of a film, in an age when childhood seems to equal yabba dabba.'   ...John Anderson, Newsday

"There is a wealth of supporting characters to make this neighborhood sparkle with lively folks. The episodic nature of the storytelling prohibits any real sustained plot involvement, but this is a lively and entertaining film."  ...Mal Vincent, The Virginian-Pilot

"It is to Skarsgård's credit that by film's end he has made Fritiof a fully rounded character that elicits our understanding if not our affection... Director Sandgren's great accomplishment in The Slingshot lies in his skill at molding Roland's determined innocence into a hardened but positive sense of self. Sandgren looks through Roland's eyes at a Stockholm that is grim, harsh and unjust. The film is rich in detail and benefits from the fine cinematography of Goran Nilsson, and the evocative jazz background score by composer Bjorn Isfalt."   ...Morrie Warshawski, Northern California Jewish Bulletin

"Sandgren is a fine director of actors, his way with young Salen is a wonder, but it's Skarsgård's Fritiof that fills the screen with a rounded portrait of a voluble, grandiose dreamer who also happens to be a very good father."  ...Kevin Thomas, LA Times

"'The Slingshot' vividly portrays the amazing resiliency of this Swedish adolescent who valiantly tries to keep his soul intact while everyone and everything conspire against him. Director Åke Sandgren draws out a sturdy and sympathetic performance from Jesper Salén in the lead role."   ...Frederic Brussat, Spirituality and Health

"Relationships, particularly Roland's complex interaction with his father, are what make 'The Slingshot" memorable. Thanks to Jasper Salen's splendid work, the film takes its place as a worthy addition to the list of fine coming-of-age films."   ...Film critic Scott Renshaw

"Though well acted by the appropriately wide-eyed Jesper Salen, 'The Slingshot' is really little more than a catalogue of catastrophes that surely left the real protagonist with many emotional scars. Perhaps the film is a cry for help, an international SOS for a Prozac airlift."    ...Rita Kempley, Washington Post

"One keeps expecting somebody to notice the genius of the ten-year-old, much as the boy comes to be appreciated in 'My Life as a Dog', but this is not a film with simple answers and obvious scenes. Roland's rewards will be far more abstract and not so dependent on others."   ...Film Critic Mark R. Leeper

"'The Slingshot' evokes the era of such socially conscious filmmakers as Rene Clair and Jean Vigo in its appealing charm, working-class ambiance and insightful humanity. We’re not in France, however. In one wonderfully Swedish scene, the family passes by the statue of Strindberg on their way home from a dust-up with the police at a political meeting, and father proudly shows off his radical brood to the great anti-establishment playwright."   ...Alicia Springer, SF International Film Festival