The film opens in modern Stockholm. Orphaned by his mother’s death and father’s disappearance, Bosse (Nicholas Pickard) suffers neglect by his guardians Aunt Edna (Gunilla Nyroos) and Uncle Sixten, as well as abuse from bullies. His best friend is Benke (Christian Bale), whose father Bosse envies.
Running away one night to seek his own father, Bosse meets the kindly shopkeeper Mrs Lundin (Linn Stokke), who gives him an apple and asks him to mail a postcard. The postcard is addressed to the Land of Faraway, informing its King of Bosse’s impending journey there. After Bosse mails the postcard, his apple turns golden. Dropping the transfigured apple in shock, Bosse stumbles upon a genie (Geoffrey Staines) trapped in a bottle and frees it.
It turns out that this spirit has travelled from the Land of Faraway to seek Bosse, and that the golden apple is Bosse’s identifying sign. With the boy clinging to his beard, the genie transports Bosse to the Land of Faraway and sets him down on Green Meadow Island. There, Bosse discovers that his real name is Mio, and that his father is the King (Timothy Bottoms).
Treated with love and indulgence, Mio leads an idyllic life on Green Meadow Island. He receives the horse Miramis as a gift from his father and makes friends with the local children. The latter include the farm boy Jiri, the shepherd boy Nonno, and the royal gardener’s son Jum-Jum, who turns out to be Benke’s double. Together, Mio and Jum-Jum learn to play pan flute music from Nonno.
However, not all is well. From a whispering well, Mio learns that an iron-clawed knight from the Land Outside, Kato (Christopher Lee), has been kidnapping children and making them his servants by ripping out their hearts and replacing them with stone. Those who refuse to serve him are transformed into birds and condemned to circle his castle in flight. Even his name induces terror when spoken.
With Jum-Jum and Miramis, Mio leaves Green Meadow Island and journeys to the Forest of Mysteries, where he tears his cape on the briars. The Weaver Woman (Susannah York) receives the boys at her house, mending Mio’s torn cape and sewing a new lining into it. Hearing the Bird of Grief lament for Kato’s victims, and told that the Weaver Woman’s daughter Millimani is among them, Mio gradually learns of his long-prophesied destiny to confront Kato in the Land Outside.
Mio in the Land of Faraway (Swedish: Mio min Mio; Russian: Мио, мой Мио – Mio, moy Mio) is a 1987 fantasy film directed by Vladimir Grammatikov and starring Christopher Lee, Christian Bale, Nicholas Pickard, Timothy Bottoms and Susannah York. Based on the 1954 novel Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren, it tells the story of a boy from Stockholm who travels to an otherworldly fantasy realm and frees the land from an evil knight’s oppression.
Mio in the Land of Faraway was co-produced by companies from Sweden, Norway and the Soviet Union with a budget of about fifty million Swedish kronor, making it the most expensive film adaptation of an Astrid Lindgren book during her lifetime. It featured an international cast consisting largely of British, Russian and Scandinavian actors, while its filming locations included Stockholm, Moscow, Crimea, and Scotland. The film was shot in English and subsequently dubbed in Swedish and Russian. Its special effects were created by Derek Meddings. The film’s theme song, “Mio My Mio”, was composed by two former ABBA members, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and performed by the Swedish band Gemini.
Mio in the Land of Faraway (1988)
Directed by: Vladimir Grammatikov
Starring: Nick Pickard, Christian Bale, Timothy Bottoms, Susannah York, Christopher Lee, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Igor Yasulovich, Gunilla Nyroos, Linn Stokke
Screenplay by: William Aldridge
Production Design by: Konstantin Zagorsky
Cinematography by: Aleksandr Antipenko, Kjell Vassdal
Film Editing by: Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas
Costume Design by: Yevgeniya Chervonskaya
Music by: Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Release Date: May 11, 1988