‘Force Majeure’ Director Ruben Östlund Reaches “Higher Level” With Actors

Force Majeure has its share of beautiful visual compositions, with the avalanche sequence being the most talked about moment in the film.

However, much of Force Majeure’s strengths lies in the performances, as the narrative takes a look at the gradual undoing of a seemingly happy couple (Johannes Kunke, Lisa Loven Kongsli) due to the husband’s less than heroic behavior during the avalanche (instead of protecting the kids, he immediately sought shelter and self-preservation, leaving his family behind).

“The avalanche becomes a metaphor in many ways,” said director Ruben Ostlund. “The ski resort (also) becomes a metaphor. It’s like a struggle between the force of nature and civilized man. He is trying to hold back the uncivilized side of himself. Force Majeure means a major power in French. It’s a power we don’t control. We don’t know how to handle a certain situation (and are) exposed.”

 Östlund’s attention to detail often leads to numerous takes during production, a challenge which wasn’t too daunting for actor Johannes Kunke.

“Every scene is shot like between 30 (to) 50 times, so we actually can go deeper into the feeling and emotion and develop it and dare to try new things during the first 10 takes,” said Kunke. “So it’s a communication between the actors and the director.”

Force Majeure - Magnolia Pictures

Click on the audio below to hear Östlund explain why using just one camera when shooting a dramatic scene is creatively beneficial.

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