These are the words of Tomas Alfredson, from the Behind The Scenes feature on the U.S. DVD version of Let The Right One In. (Transcribed by N.R. Gasan.)
This is set in nineteen eighty two, and that was quite a different society in Sweden compared to today. Sweden was half-way behind the iron curtain in the sixties and seventies. This is quite a special era in Swedish history. In the film there is a square in the center of this suburb where everybody’s passing through. And when I see pictures from this square from nineteen eighty two there is the social security office, it’s the co-op, it is the liquor monopoly store. And if you see a picture from this square today it is the video store, the tatooist – it’s a very different kind of society.
It’s very Swedish, and the pictures and the colors and the lighting is very Swedish, but I didn’t have any purpose to show Sweden as a society or something. That wasn’t my purpose. We went all through Sweden, which is a long country, and meeting a lot of kids. It took nearly a year to find them. We had to find the right characters, the right faces, and the right characteristics, and also to be very stable kids and smart kids to have this big responsibility. But luckily we found those two and they’re marvelous, I think.
In this film the adults are very close to the children and to the horrific things that happen, but they have their faces turned away. So they, they… in each and every one of these scenes they have the possibility to do something but they don’t. They’re not evil but they’re not participating. The film is told through Oskar’s eyes and I would believe that’s his image of grown-ups.
If you torment a child… mostly you would see a drama with a tormented child… that he or she would be very sad, or very… sitting somewhere crying. But this suggests that a tormented child will be very violent inside. So I would think that Eli is all that violence that he feels inside but can’t let out because he’s too weak.
This is very original stuff and we had very free hands to do it as we wanted to do it. So it has a lot of integrity, and maybe that’s why, because of its integrity, that it has been such a hit. It’s fantastic to come from this little country with this small language to reach out all over the world.
To me, it’s a happy ending. But if you’re… if you want to, this could be a very tragic ending. It’s up to you to decide, because maybe Oskar will become the other guy, you know, the killer. So he will be the blood supplier for her in the future. So that depends on how you look upon it yourself; if it’s a happy or unhappy ending. To me, it’s a happy ending.