The Square is a 2017 Swedish satirical-drama film directed by Ruben Östlund and starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, and Terry Notary.
Let’s find out some intriguing facts about it!
1. The film is about publicity surrounding an art installation, and was partly inspired by an installation Östlund had made. It was shot in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Berlin.
2. The film was entered into the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it received positive reviews and won the Palme d’Or.
3. In the aftermath of the abolition of the Monarchy of Sweden, the Stockholm Palace has been converted into an art museum. Christian is a curator at the museum, managing a space set to show a new installation piece. He finds a public relations company to promote the installation, creating a great deal of chaos.
4. The story for the film was conceived when director Ruben Östlund and producer Kalle Boman entered an installation into the Vandalorum Museum in Värnamo in 2014.
5. In their artists’ statement, they wrote “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.”
6. In one scene, a man with Tourette’s syndrome yells at a reporter. Östlund said this was inspired by a true incident at a Swedish theatre, and was depicted without fear of insensitivity, since he said all people are satirized in his work.
7. The beginning of the film was also inspired by a true incident, when in Goteborg Östlund saw a woman run to a man, saying someone was going to kill her. Another man arrived and acted menacingly towards Östlund and the crowd. It turned out to be a ploy, in which Östlund’s cellphone was stolen.
8. Filming took place from June to October 2016 in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Berlin. The gallery in the film is based on Sweden’s Royal Palace.
9. Östlund said it was challenging for Moss and West to adapt to Swedish direction, but they eventually adjusted.
10. Shooting took place on a budget of $5.5 million.
11. Ostlund preferred to focus each day on a single scene, taking as many as 50 takes, though the most complex sequences required four days.
12. In Berlin, one day was spent with a Bonobo monkey, with the cast given rules on how to behave with the animal to prevent triggering a violent reaction.
13. The film was added to 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s schedule near the end of April, a late addition. This marked its international debut.
14. Before the film screened at Cannes, distribution rights were sold for larger theatrical releases in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other European countries.
15. Magnolia Pictures became the U.S. distributor.
16. At Cannes, critical reception was largely positive, though it was not expected to win the Palme d’Or.
17. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called the film “a suavely merciless take-down of the decadence of the contemporary art world,” remarking the museum depicted is motivated by greed, and the film is “more outrageous but less effective than Force Majeure.”
18. Peter Bradshaw gave it four stars in The Guardian, judging it a “sprawling and daringly surreal satire”.
19. In The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy called it “madly ambitious and frequently disquieting”, suggesting it might try to include too much, but had an impact.
20. Robbie Collin gave it four stars in The Daily Telegraph, finding the first hour cleverly satirical, and a later scene horrific.
21. Conversely, IndieWire critic Eric Kohn was disappointed, saying it tries to include too much.
22. When The Square won the Palme d’Or, marking the first time a predominantly Swedish production received the honour since The Best Intentions in 1992, jury president Pedro Almodóvar cited it for depicting “the dictatorship of being politically correct”.