Directed by Vladimir Grammatikov
Produced by Ingemar Ejve
Written by William Aldridge, Astrid Lindgren (novel)
Starring Christopher Lee, Christian Bale, Nicholas Pickard, Timothy Bottoms, Susannah York
Music by Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas
Cinematography Aleksandr Antipenko
Editing by Darek Hodor
Distributed by Sweden: Sandrew Metronome, United States: Miramax Films
Release date(s) Soviet Union: July 1987 (IFF), Norway: 18 August 1987 (IFF), Sweden: 16 October 1987, United States: May 1988
Running time 99 minutes
Country Sweden, Soviet Union, Norway
Language English, Swedish (dub), Russian (dub)
Budget SEK 55,000,000 (est.)
Gross revenue Sweden: SEK 17,799,205
Info & Plot
The film opens in modern Stockholm. Orphaned by his mother’s death and father’s disappearance, Bosse (Nicholas Pickard) suffers neglect by his guardians Aunt Edna (Gunilla Nyroos) and Uncle Sixten, as well as abuse from bullies. His best friend is Benke (Christian Bale), whose father Bosse envies. Running away one night to seek his own father, Bosse meets the kindly shopkeeper Mrs Lundin (Linn Stokke), who gives him an apple and asks him to mail a postcard. The postcard is addressed to the Land of Faraway, informing its King of Bosse’s impending journey there. After Bosse mails the postcard, his apple turns golden. Dropping the transfigured apple in shock, Bosse stumbles upon a genie (Geoffrey Staines) trapped in a bottle and frees it.
It turns out that this spirit has travelled from the Land of Faraway to seek Bosse, and that the golden apple is Bosse’s identifying sign. With the boy clinging to his beard, the genie transports Bosse to the Land of Faraway and sets him down on Green Meadow Island. There, Bosse discovers that his real name is Mio, and that his father is the King (Timothy Bottoms). Treated with love and indulgence, Mio leads an idyllic life on Green Meadow Island. He receives the horse Miramis as a gift from his father and makes friends with the local children. The latter include the farm boy Jiri, the shepherd boy Nonno, and the royal gardener’s son Jum-Jum, who turns out to be Benke’s double. Together, Mio and Jum-Jum learn to play pan flute music from Nonno.
However, not all is well. From a whispering well, Mio learns that an iron-clawed knight from the Land Outside, Kato (Christopher Lee), has been kidnapping children and making them his servants by ripping out their hearts and replacing them with stone. Those who refuse to serve him are transformed into birds and condemned to circle his castle in flight. Even his name induces terror when spoken.
With Jum-Jum and Miramis, Mio leaves Green Meadow Island and journeys to the Forest of Mysteries, where he tears his cape on the briars. The Weaver Woman (Susannah York) receives the boys at her house, mending Mio’s torn cape and sewing a new lining into it. Hearing the Bird of Grief[ lament for Kato’s victims, and told that the Weaver Woman’s daughter Millimani is among them, Mio gradually learns of his long-prophesied destiny to confront Kato in the Land Outside.
Journeying to the Land Outside, Mio and Jum-Jum meet Eno (Igor Yasulovich), a hungry old man living in a cave, and offer him food. In gratitude, Eno tells them to seek a weapon against Kato from the Forger of Swords, who has been imprisoned and enslaved by Kato in the Blackest Mountain beyond the Dead Forest. Meanwhile, Kato’s servants capture Miramis. The boys are forced to continue their journey on foot, pursued by Kato’s servants through the Dead Forest and the Blackest Mountain. Separated in the mountain’s tunnels, the boys find each other by playing their pan-flutes. They finally reach the Forger of Swords (Sverre Anker Ousdal), who tells the boys about Kato’s stone heart and provides Mio a sword capable of penetrating it.
Mio and Jum-Jum journey to Kato’s castle, where they are captured and imprisoned. Kato throws Mio’s sword into the lake outside the castle. However, Mio discovers that his newly-lined cape turns him invisible when worn inside-out, and reclaims his sword with the help of Kato’s birds. Armed and invisible, he escapes and makes his way to Kato’s chamber, eluding the castle guards. Taking off his cloak, Mio challenges Kato to combat and eventually slays him. Turning into rock, the dead knight crumbles into pieces. Mio picks up Kato’s stone heart and holds it outside a window, where it transforms into a bird and flies away.
Kato’s birds turn back into children, Jum-Jum and Miramis are freed, and Kato’s castle collapses into ruin. The Dead Forest begins to revive. Returning to Green Meadow Island, the children rejoin their families, and Mio rejoins his father. On this happy note, the film ends.