Filmmaker JONAS ÅKERLUND On MAYHEM Biopic Lords Of Chaos - "It's A Very Sad Story In Many Ways"
January 31, 2018, 11 months ago
Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund (Metallica, Rammstein, etc.) spoke to Rolling Stone about his horror-movie biopic on Norway's notorious Mayhem, Lords Of Chaos.
Drawing from personal experience - Åkerlund was for a drummer for the Swedish extreme metal band Bathory for a short time in the early 80s - his adaptation of Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind's book Lords Of Chaos details of the group's rise and fall via Mayhem's co-founder/guitarist Øystein Aarseth, aka Euronymous (Rory Culkin) and his relationship with two volatile collaborators: Per Yngve Ohlin aka Pelle aka Dead (Jack Kilmer), the band's ultra-melancholic first singer who killed cats and then himself; and Varg Vikernes, aka the Count (Emory Cohen), a fellow outcast and Aarseth's eventual murderer.
Recently screening in the Midnight section of the Sundance Film Festival, Lords Of Chaos is profoundly disturbing, macabrely comical and truly unforgettable - a Jonas Åkerlund movie, in other words. (It's currently without a distributor.) A few days after the movie's world premiere, the filmmaker spoke to Rolling Stone about his connection to the story and the scene, why it took so long to get this movie made and how he handled some of the more sensitive (and grisly) aspects of Mayhem's tragedy. An excerpt follows:
Rolling Stone: Have you been hit with any harsh reactions or legal issues?
Jonas Åkerlund: "No legal issues; it's a story that's kind of [in the] public domain, and we have the rights to the book. But you are right: It is a very sensitive story and to be honest, I'm not really sure why. I mean, I'm very passionate about this story, but the truth is that ... young kids do stupid things around the world every day. But this specific story seems to be very important to people, and some of them were already criticizing the movie and asking why we'd tell this story. I think they're wrong. I definitely think this is a relevant story that translates really well into the world of youth today and it needs to be told. And a lot of people that are very close to the story has been supportive. We do have Mayhem's music in the film. I read a lot online [saying] that we don't, but we have the support of Mayhem and the music is in there. They also understand that this story exists in so many different formats already and that a movie is important to tell this story to the next generation.
Rolling Stone: "In terms of the other Mayhem members - particularly Varg, who's not portrayed very favourably - do you think there will be issues with this version of the story getting out there? Have you heard from him?
Jonas Åkerlund: "No, he's the only one we haven't been in contact with. We don't have any of his music in the film so we didn't need his permission. I mean, he's very proud of what he did. He brags about it - and he keeps telling this story over and over again, ever since it happened like 25 years ago. But he's changed his story through the years, so it's hard for me to say exactly what happened; obviously, a lot of his character is based on what he has told. But the other Mayhem members have read the script and they've been supportive with the music and all that, like I said. We've even been in contact with Euronymous's parents and Pelle's family. I've been trying to treat it with respect as much as I can, especially because people have lost family members. It's a very sad story in many ways."
Read the complete interview at RollingStone.com.
(Photo - Sundance Institute)