Per Åhlin is a legendary Swedish animator who has given the animated film an increased status and place in Swedish film history. When the feature film I huvet på en gammal gubbe premiered in 1968, the audience sensationally saw a mix of elements where the animated components formed the bulk of the film and the live action a smaller part. Prior to this, all animated Swedish films had been short films, although attempts at longer features had been made. Never before had a Swedish film with such comprehensive animated features been shown at the cinema.
Per Åhlin is a self-taught cartoonist (born 1931 in Hofors), who, after growing up in Småland, established himself as an illustrator, theatre director, scenographer, animator and more.
Åhlin founded his animation company Pennfilm in 1970 in Skåne and made his second feature film, Dunderklumpen in 1974, a mixed film in which cartoon characters acted out in the mountain scenery alongside live actors. The technical achievement and artistic experimentation made him genuinely popular and awarded him a Guldbagge. Per Åhlin also renewed the Swedish animated film industry with the TV series about Alfons Åberg and Lilla spöket Laban – both became beloved favorites.
The animated feature film Resan till Melonia (1989) is Per Åhlin’s most ambitious work, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest. For the first time, Åhlin made a fully animated feature film populated with characters from his own universe. Hundhotellet (2000), a playful thriller parody, became Per Åhlin’s fourth animated feature film. The last time we saw a new movie by Per Åhlin at the cinemas was in 2013, when Emil and Ida i Lönneberga opened.
However, the most famous, controversial and beloved of all Per Åhlin’s movies is still Tage Danielsson’s Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton. First broadcast in 1975, it has been shown on Swedish National Television (SVT) every Christmas Eve for over forty years. Having various meanings its spirit and message could still be considered relevant even today.