Interview: On Ski Movies with 'Force Majeure' Director Ruben Östlund
by Alex Billington
October 28, 2014
"I wanted to make the ski trip to hell!" That's exactly what he has made. I really, really love Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, it's one of my favorite films this year and if you're looking for something fun and original to watch give this one a look. I've been pushing this film and highlighting it as much as possible because it's not easy to get Marvel audiences interested in Swedish films about a family on a "ski trip to hell". But this is one of those great films that stands out in a crowd, and you will probably want to visit the Alps after. While traveling to promote the release, I met up with Swedish writer and director Ruben Östlund (of the films Play, Involuntary and Gitarrmongot previously) to talk about Force Majeure. Watch the full video below.
I really, really love Force Majeure and really want to go out of my way to recommend this one hence this interview. Before making narrative features, Ruben used to make ski movies when he was younger (see Free Radicals). I told him in Cannes that Force Majeure kind of felt like a ski movie of old times updated and refreshed, which is why I loved talking with him about this exact topic. Ruben's Force Majeure is one of the best discoveries of 2014 that everyone seems to love as soon as they catch it. Give it a shot - it's in theaters.
From my Cannes review: "Beyond all the skiing details, Force Majeure has a brilliant script that delves into many ideas of connection, relationships, social interaction and natural human reaction to fear. The family, made up of Johannes Bah Kuhnke & Lisa Loven Kongsli as husband & wife, and Clara Wettergren & Vincent Wettergren as their young daughter & son, goes through some turbulent times following the avalanche scare, yet they still end up going out for four more days of skiing, and every day is more entertaining to watch than the last. Much of the comedy comes from very natural character humor, but also through the arguments they get into, which go from absurd to amusing to ridiculous to fascinating and back in no time."
My interview with Force Majeure writer & director Ruben Östlund, shot on Flipcam in New York City:
Timeline of questions: 0:31 - It must be a good feeling that so many people are in love with this? 1:12 - Is this based on some real experience in your own life? 3:20 - How did it evolve to contain the family as well as the other friends? 4:25 - Was it hard to find a cast that worked well together? 5:32 - What do you need the extra shooting time for (60 days on Force Majeure)? 6:28 - Did the movie change while you shooting and how much; was it a drastic change? 7:40 - What was the most important part of the film you wanted to get perfect? 8:53 - Where did you shoot this, at what resort? 10:34 - Where did those beautiful location / landscape shots and the idea to use those come from? 11:58 - Do you still love "ski movies", any favorites?
Note: Ruben mentions he shot this film at the resort Les Arcs in Savoie, France. At the end he also names snowboard movie The Art of Flight which is an awesome movie. Please watch Ruben's previous films, too.
Thank you to Ruben Östlund for his time, I'm so glad we were able to speak. And thank you to Susan Norget and Magnolia for arranging. Force Majeure is now playing in select theaters - check theater listings here.
A Swedish family travels to the French Alps to enjoy a few days of skiing. During a lunch at a mountainside restaurant, an avalanche turns everything upside down. With diners fleeing in all directions, mother Ebba calls for her husband Tomas as she tries to protect their children. Tomas, meanwhile, is running for his life… The anticipated disaster failed to occur, and yet the family's world has been shaken to its core, a question mark hanging over their father in particular. Tomas and Ebba's marriage now hangs in the balance as Tomas struggles desperately to reclaim his role as family patriarch. Force Majeure is written & directed by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, of Play, Involuntary and Gitarrmongot previously. The film first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Magnolia has just released Force Majeure beginning October 24th.