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What You Need To Know / Aug 09, 2019

The Captor: What You Need To Know

A new movie from the producers behind Whiplash and Get Out tackles the story of the swedish hostage crisis from which the term 'Stockholm syndrome' was coined...

You've probably heard the phrase 'Stockholm syndrome' before, used to describe a condition in which hostages or kidnapping victims develop an affinity with their captors, but have you ever wondered where the phrase comes from? Or why it should be named after the Swedish capital?

The term was first coined in 1973 by criminologist Nils Bejerot in the wake of a robbery at the Stockholm branch of Kreditbanken, one of Sweden's largest banks. During the heist, four hostages were taken by escaped ex-convict Jan-Erik Olsson and held in one of the bank's vaults as he attempted to negotiate the prison release of his former partner-in-crime Clark Olofsson with the city's police.

The robbery soon turned into a siege, which lasted for six days before the hostages were finally released unharmed. The hostages subsequently refused to testify against Olsson and defended the actions of their captors.

It's this bizarre story that forms the basis for The Captor, a new film from the production house behind films such as Whiplash, Get Out and BlackKklansman. After premiering at 2018's Tribeca Film Festival and hitting cinema screens earlier this year, the film makes its way into stores on Monday (August 12th), here's everything you need to know...


Who's in it?

Ethan Hawke stars as the heist's mastermind, with Noomi Rapace co-starring as Bianca Lind, one of the hostages, and Mark Strong also-co-starring as the bank robber's friend and accomplice Gunnar Sorensson.


And who's directing?

Robert Budreau, whose last outing in the director's chair also saw him directing Hawke in Chet Baker biopic Born to be Blue.


What's the plot?

The first thing to note here is that The Captor does take a few liberties with the facts, including the names of those involved, so here our anti-hero is a Swede named Lars Nystrom (pretending to be an American named Kaj Kansson), who we see at the beginning of the film marching into Kreditbanken – holding the door open for an elderly lady as he goes – before proceeding to pull a submachine gun out of his bag and fire it into the ceiling.

Police are quickly dispatched to the scene and two officers briefly enter the bank, but Nystrom opens fire and reinforcements are sent to surround the building. Nystrom then takes four hostages, letting everyone else go, and issues a list of demands, one of these being that his friend Gunnar Sorensson is released from prison and transported to the bank. The police agree on the basis that they think Sorensson can be used to mediate negotiations between them.

However, despite their situation, the hostages begin to appreciate Nystrom's kindness to them – especially young bank teller Bianca Lind, who begins to become disillusioned by the actions of the police, believing that their dishonest tactics are making their situation more dangerous.

When the police threaten to pump tear gas into the vault, Sorensson tries to convince Nystrom to give himself up, but Bianca comes up with a plan to get the police to rethink their actions. Nystrom is soon left wondering who his friend Sorensson is really siding with: him, or the police?


Does it deliver?

The true story behind the film includes many bizarre details which, depicted on a cinema screen, might strain credulity to breaking point but for the superb performances from the film's central players, who help to make The Captor a gripping and often strangely amusing spectacle. If you're a fan of crime capers in general, this is well worth a look and offers something a little different from the usual hostage scenario movie.


The Captor is available in hmv stores now.

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