From children’s films to black comedy, period dramas and, of course, crime series, there are Swedish movies for anyone interested in learning Swedish (especially if you like something outside of mainstream cinema). Here at Babbel, we’ve chosen eight of our favorites to help you learn about Swedish language and culture. Who knows — maybe they’ll even open up a (Swedish) dialogue to help you practice the words and phrases you’re learning!
Pass the popcorn.
1. Astrid Lindgren Movies
If you aren’t already familiar with her, Astrid Lindgren was the widely-known Swedish author who also happened to produce some timeless movies adaptations of her books. She’s perhaps best known for creating the character Pippi Långstrump (or Pippi Longstocking, as we know her in English), a young girl who moves to the town of Villa Villekulla with her horse and little monkey, Herr Nilsson.
Although Lindgren’s target audience was children, the movies are an excellent resource for adults beginning to learn Swedish. This is especially true because every Swede should be familiar with these tales, making them the perfect instigator for small talk. Lindgren’s other movies are also worth watching, including Emil i Lönneberga, Barnen i Bullerbyn, and Karlsson på taket.
2. En man som heter Ove
The Swedish comedy-drama En man som heter Ove (A Man Called Ove) is a delicious taste of the black comedy Swedes are known for — partially, they say, due to the long, dark winters they endure. This Oscar-nominated film was written and directed by Hannes Holm, and features a grieving man with steadfast beliefs as he attempts to commit suicide (sounds dreary, but the end it’s quite heartfelt). The humor is subtly peppered throughout this film and is easy enough for beginners to follow along. Also, this Swedish movie gives insights into the local culture as the protagonist goes on to befriend his new neighbors.
3. Fanny och Alexander
Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) is a historical period drama directed by one of Sweden’s — not to mention the world’s — most accomplished filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman. The script is semi-autobiographical (like many of Bergman’s films) and follows two young siblings as their father unexpectedly dies and their mother remarries a bishop who reigns control of their lives. As a classic and award-winning piece of Swedish cinema, it’s a great opportunity for discussion and analysis for those at an intermediate level.
4. Fucking Åmål
Fucking Åmål tells the story of two teenage girls in a youthful period of longing in the small town of Åmål, Sweden. Directed by Lukas Moodyss, this drama was commended for its heartfelt realism and accurate depiction of teenagers in the 90s, especially for those on the LGBT spectrum. If you’re at an intermediate level, the relatable and approachable storyline makes this one of the best films to learn Swedish for intermediate learners.
5. Millenium Trilogy
Moving onto even heavier stuff, the best-selling Swedish crime novels-cum-films by Stieg Larsson deliver a great mix of everyday language layered with thrill. If you aren’t familiar, the Millenium Trilogy surrounds an investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, and a computer hacker with a photographic memory, Lisbeth Salander, who solve crimes together. You probably know them best by the name of the first movie’s English title, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Allegedly, Larsson based the character of Lisbeth on what he imagined Pippi Långstrump might have been like as an adult, while a secondary inspiration was said to be his rebellious niece. The trilogy is widely popular in Sweden and worldwide, so it’s a sure conversation topic to brush up your Swedish if you’re at an intermediate level.
OK, technically this final recommendation isn’t a Swedish movie, but it’s absolutely worth a mention: the noir crime TV series Bron. This show, created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt, is actually a blend of Swedish and Danish since the plot revolves around a body found smack bang in the middle of the bridge connecting Swedish Malmö and Copenhagen. So, while the Swedes call it Bron, the Danes will opt for Broen ( and you may also know it as The Bridge in English).
Those at an intermediate level will find this series beneficial, especially if you’re down to add some darker, more gruesome language to your lexicon. It also turns out that the headliners of the show believe in language education, too. Watch two stars of the show offer a good teaser of what’s in store here.