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by Karen Pecota

The true real life goofy and ridiculous Swedish bank robbery in 1973 is the premise for a script from writer/director, Robert Budreau in his feature narrative STOCKHOLM.

In August 1973 Jan-Erik Olsson took over the Sveriges Kreditbank in Stockholm where he and Clark Olofsson held four hostages for six days. During the standoff, the Swedish government would not allow Olsson to leave the bank with the hostages. An article called "The Bank Drama" about the event appeared in the New Yorker a year later from journalist Daniel Lang. His account of the situation is telling of a comedic event where the hostages bond with their captors and turn against the authorities trying to save them. This bizarre experience allowed psychologists to study and then identify the phenomena calling it the "Stockholm Syndrome".

Budreau says, "What attracted me to the story was the mix of dark comedy with intense psychological drama." He continues, "When I read about all the insane things that happened--the robber wore ridiculous disguise, he made the cops sing songs, asked for a Ford Mustang for the getaway car, and the list goes on and on. I could have never invented this stuff. Many of the things that actually happened are unbelievably absurd and I welcomed the challenge of creating such an unorthodox hostage caper film."

Budreau collaborated with an outstanding cast starring Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace and Mark Strong to bring his challenging project to fruition with excellence. It is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. Hawke's performance to strike the necessary balance between scary and compassionate was in itself phenomenal.

Swedish actress Noomi Rapace recalls, "I remember seeing a documentary when I was a teenager on the bank heist in Sweden. There was always a myth around it and around what happened in the vault." She continues, "It's something that all Swedes are very aware of."

Strong adds, “It’s fascinating to know that in 1973 there was a situation in a particular country where these guys who were holding people hostage were more like the people they were holding hostage."


In 1973, the disguised criminal, Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke), walks into a central Stockholm bank and raids it by himself. He takes hostages in order to spring his pal Gunnar (Mark Strong) from prison. It works. Ready to flee the scene Lars and Gunnar run into problems when the negotiations with the authorities refuse to supply the getaway vehicle and refuse to let them escape with the hostages. 

The criminals Plan B takes more ingenuity. Hours turn to days and the hostages are perplexed with their captors. Lars alternates between threatening them and making them feel safe and secure but come to realize Lars couldn't hurt anyone. One of female hostages, Bianca (Noomi Rapace), a wife and mother, observes Lars' caring nature. Together a bond between the whole group develops leading to this capers' bizarre outcome known as the "Stockholm Syndrome".