Channel ARTE will air ‘Das Löwenmädchen’ (German title) on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 8:15 p.m. The film is a magnificent coming-of-age drama with a unique protagonist and a universal appeal. Not to be missed!
In the winter of 1912 in a small provincial town in Norway, a baby girl (Eva) whose body is fully covered with fine blond hairs is born. For science at that time, this was a peculiar and interesting case. Eva’s mother dies giving birth and her father, Arctander the station guard, at first doesn’t want to know anything about Eva.
But little Eva grows up. Disconnected and hidden from the curious outside world, she creates her own world until, one day, she finds the courage to escape from the narrowness of her life.
Vibeke Idsøe’s elaborate film adaption of the bestselling eponymous novel by Erik Fosnes Hansen tells the story of Eva Arctander’s extraordinary life. Due to a genetic defect, she is covered with hair over her whole body, which makes her resemble a young lioness.
The Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård plays the role of the taciturn and introverted station guard, Gustav Arctander. Ken Duken plays the “lizard man”, Andrej Bòr, who, like Eva, suffers from a genetic defect.
Through Andrej Bòr, Eva gets know Johannes Joachim, played by Burghart Klaußner. The extravagant director travels throughout Europe with his “human cabinet of curiosities”, and will give Eva’s life a completely new direction.
No less important to Eva, is the encounter with Mrs. Grjothornet, played by the Danish actress Connie Nielsen; a lady with style, who, on the one hand submits herself to the dictates of the beauty cult, but also teaches Eva that beauty can have many facets.
Eva Arctander is played by Aurora Lindseth Løkka (as a 7-year-old), Mathilde Thomine Storm (as a 14-year-old) and Ida Ursin-Holm (as a young woman).
An enormous challenge for the shooting of The Lion Woman was the make-up. The production team managed to hire Conor O’Sullivan, who is known in Hollywood for being one of the best SFX Make-up artists. Dan Laustsen was the DoP, and Frauke Firl the costume designer.
Based on the designs by Icelandic production designer Karl Júlíusson, various sets were constructed by the MMC Art Department (MMC’s Construction Manager: Hendrik Labuhn) on three soundstages of MMC’s production facilities in Cologne. One of the main sets was the apartment of the station guard Arctander and another was the community hall of the small Norwegian provincial town.
The Lion Woman is a production of the Norwegian Filmkameratene and the German Gifted Films West (Cologne), in co-production with Tre Vänner (SE), Zentopa (DK), MMC Movies and The Post Republic. The movie was funded by the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, FFA, FFHSH, DFFF, Eurimages and The Norwegian Film Institute.
Photo: Eva (Mathilde Thomine Storm) and her father Gustav Arctander (Rolf Lassgård). ©Tom Trambow