[Movie] A True Story About the Origin of “Stockholm” Syndrome (Director Robert Budreau, Starring Ethan Hawke)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon Prime Video Movie “Stockholm”: Image from Amazon.com)

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. A movie based on a bank robber who inspired the name “Stockholm syndrome.”
  2. Watching the movie may help understand why hostages can develop positive feelings towards their captors.
  3. There must be “good qualities” in every human being.

The strange relationship between the hostage and the slightly eccentric culprit makes you think “maybe this could actually happen.”

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

Why do People Make “Strange Judgments”?

The Impact of the “Stockholm Syndrome”

Have you heard of “Stockholm syndrome”? It is a well-known example of how human judgement can sometimes become strange. The definition goes like this:

Stockholm syndrome is a proposed condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors.


When I first learned about this phenomenon, I was probably surprised (although I don’t remember exactly). After all, it involves developing positive feelings and empathy towards someone who is harming or attempting to harm oneself. Many people may think, “Can such a thing really happen?”

However, it is known that such a relationship can develop in the event of a certain type of incident, and we ourselves might develop similar emotions under the just right conditions.

Now, “Stockholm” is the capital of Sweden. Why is this city’s name associated with the phenomenon? It’s because the phenomenon became known after a bank robbery that occurred in Stockholm in 1973.

And this movie is based on the very robbery.

Watching the Film, You May Feel “I See”

“Stockholm syndrome” is something that may be hard to understand just by reading an explanation. You may feel like it couldn’t really happen, right?

However, when you watch this movie, you might think “Ah, I can see how it’s possible.”

In one of the scenes shown in the movie trailer, a police officer tries to persuade the criminal indirectly through one of the hostages. While the police and the hostages are communicating on the phone, the police officer asks the hostage,

Do you trust the criminal?

The hostage’s response was quite crazy:

More than the police.

Certainly, there is always the question of whether “police can be trusted”. I think that the police in Japan can be trusted to some extent, but there are certainly failures and scandals. In the case of foreign police, it seems that they sometimes demand bribes from citizens or engage in corrupt behavior themselves. I don’t know how the Swedish police were perceived by the public in 1973, but there is also a possibility that “the hostage did not have a favorable impression of the police”.

Or, rather than having direct dissatisfaction with the police, it is also possible to have a distrust of “government authority” in general. It could also be that dissatisfaction with politics is manifested as distrust of the police.

However, these are simply possibilities and in this film there is no setting where the hostages have a particular mistrust of the police. The focus is on the relationship between the criminal and the hostages.

If the audience feels that “what this person is doing is bad, but they are not a bad person,” there may be room for empathy towards the criminal. Especially if that criminal is attacking an organization (such as a bank, which is often portrayed as a villainous organization because it holds a lot of money) that seems to easily gather public dissatisfaction, there may be even more of a desire to side with them.

How do We View Other People?

From here on, this is not directly related to the Stockholm syndrome, but I always think that “how we perceive others is up to us.” Some people may think that I am stating the obvious, but I believe that there are those who do not have such a sense. In other words, there are people who believe that “if I feel something is wrong, then everyone should feel that it is wrong too.”

It’s a well-known story that some people look at a bottle with half a wine and think “there’s still half left,” while others think “there’s only half left.” Similarly, people have different perceptions of others’ behavior – some may see it as “good,” while others may see it as “bad.”

However, some people only accept the view that “there’s only half of wine left in the bottle,” and some believe that if they perceive someone’s behavior as “bad,” others should feel the same way.

In the movie, there is a scene where one of the hostages says as follow.

Everyone has good qualities.

I agree with that statement. Even if someone is currently committing a bank robbery, we would be able to still find “good qualities” in that person.

The act of “bank robbery” is certainly wrong and not justifiable, but I cannot agree with the claim that “a person who robs a bank is entirely bad.” That bank robber may be a “loving dad” to someone, and if the reason for the bank robbery was to “help someone,” then there is room for sympathy.

Personally, I try to be conscious of looking for the good in others as much as possible, with the caveat of “to the extent possible.” I also feel that the “Stockholm syndrome” is created by such a feeling of wanting to see the other person as a good human being, which may vary greatly from person to person.

Content Introduction

He let all the people in the bank out, leaving two female bank employees and then demanded to police that they brought Gunnar Sorenson. He is his associate who imprisoned in the penitentiary.

The robber played games with the employees to kill time, and eventually Gunnar, who had been released, was brought to the bank. After achieving his goal, the robber attempted to escape, but decided to barricade himself inside the bank as the Swedish Prime Minister did not allow him to flee with hostages.

The hostages were afraid in this situation, but as they talked with the robber, they found kindness in his behavior and gradually opened their hearts to him. They even cooperated with a plan to help the robber escape…


I knew that there was an event that served as a model for the “Stockholm syndrome,” but I didn’t know the specifics, so that was also interesting, and the movie itself was simply entertaining. For a true story, I don’t think the case itself is very famous, so I won’t go into how the movie will unfold in detail. The changing relationship between the robber and the hostages is one of the interesting points of this movie because it is unpredictable.

This movie has strong character appeal (although it’s unclear how closely it follows the real-life events), and in particular, Bianca, a female bank employee who becomes a hostage, is very well done. She is unpredictable, yet also very rational, and we see her struggle with a sense of justice as she helps the robber escape, despite knowing he is a criminal. She has a husband and children, and needs to survive and return home safely, so it would be best for her to avoid drawing attention. However, she still maintains her own convictions and acts accordingly, which is very impressive.

The robbers in this movie are not intelligent, they’re rude and like clown, the type of person I wouldn’t like if I met him in real life. However, in this film, a strange story unfolds as the hostage and the criminal, who are completely different types of people, intersect. In that sense, I felt that the character of the protagonist was also important. Various factors come together to create a situation, “cooperating with a criminal”, that we cannot imagine. but I think it is largely due to the slightly unusual characters of the hostage and the robber that we can watch it without feeling too unnatural.


This is a work that shows some mysterious aspects of human psychology. It’s unclear how much of it is based on a true story, but if you watch it with the perspective of “this actually happened”, it’s a work that makes you feel the depth of human nature.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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