Ådalen 31 (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈǒːdɑːlɛn];[citation needed] released in the United States as Adalen Riots) is a 1969 Swedish drama film directed by Bo Widerberg.[1] It depicts the 1931 Ådalen shootings, in which Swedish military forces opened fire against labour demonstrators in the Swedish sawmill district of Ådalen killing five people, including a young girl.

Ådalen 31
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBo Widerberg
Written byBo Widerberg
StarringPeter Schildt
Kerstin Tidelius
Roland Hedlund
CinematographyJörgen Persson
Edited byBo Widerberg
Distributed byAB Svensk Filmindustri
Release date
  • 1 May 1969 (1969-05-01) (Sweden)
Running time
114 minutes

The film was X-rated in the United States. It won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.


In 1931, the working-class family Andersson of Ådalen are taking part in a massive sympathy strike for workers in the town Marma. Harald, the father of the family, catches fish and manages to support his family while maintaining a good mood. Kjell, the oldest son, works at the office of the local sawmill manager, and is taught about classical music, impressionism and French pronunciation by the manager's wife. He plays in a jazz band with his friend Nisse with whom he also discusses things like girls, erogenous zones and hypnosis. As spring commences, the manager's daughter Anna comes home for school holiday. She and Kjell fall in love, and she becomes pregnant with his child.

When the sawmill is to deliver a big order to America, strikebreakers are called in from other towns. The local strikers become furious and police has to be called in to protect the strikebreakers. Still they are attacked by an angry crowd while working at the Sandviken wharf outside Kramfors. Some are thrown into the water, while others are beaten bloody. Harald takes care of an injured strikebreaker, but is confronted by a group of angry workers. He tries to argue for them to calm down and rely on discussion instead of violence, but they do not agree with his stance.

Because of the turbulence, military troops arrive to ensure safety. It is also decided by the County Administrative Board that the strikebreakers should be prohibited from working, but this information doesn't reach the upset locals, who decide to march to the locality where the strikebreakers are staying to get rid of them. When the military troops fail in persuading the participants to stop, they open fire.

Five people are killed and five more are injured. Among the dead are Harald Andersson, Nisse and a young girl who had only been a bystander. Around the same time, Anna returns from Stockholm where she has had an abortion arranged by her mother. When Kjell is told about the abortion by Anna's father, he interprets it as if he isn't accepted within the bourgeois idyll.

A general strike is proclaimed. While Kjell is occupied as a strike guard, he meets the man who had previously argued with his father. The man claims that the father wasn't innocent, since he had helped to divide the workers. Not until now they were united. Kjell does not agree, instead claiming that education is the key to a better society. Slowly, the Andersson family recover from the loss, and eventually the factories open again.

Selected castEdit

Critical receptionEdit

"Beautiful yet uninspired" was the assessment of Pauline Kael. "Lush and lyrical as it is, it’s fundamentally didactic, with stereotyped social-realist characters. And because Widerberg seems to work best in vignettes and to have architectural problems when he’s working on such a large scale, his argument isn’t clear; he makes the little points but not the big ones. So when the violence erupts, we don’t really understand its political significance – we’re left 'appreciating' it, in a rather embarrassed way, for its pictorial values."[2]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Widerberg won the award for Best Direction, and actor Roland Hedlund won for Best Actor at the 6th Guldbagge Awards.[3] Internationally, the film won the Special Grand Prize of the Jury at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival[4] and was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film[5] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ådalen 31" (in Swedish). Swedish Film Database. 1 May 1969. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  2. ^ Kael, Pauline (2011) [1991]. 5001 Nights at the Movies. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-250-03357-4.
  3. ^ "Ådalen 31 (1969)". Swedish Film Institute. 2 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ådalen 31". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
  5. ^ "The 42nd Academy Awards (1970) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-16.

External linksEdit