The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a situational comedy at its best
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, a 2013 comedy by Felix Herngren, is a successful adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s bestselling novel of the same name.
The movie delves into the world of Allan Karlsson who, after a long and eventful life, ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health – and his days are getting tedious. With his 100th birthday party imminent, Allan decides to climb out of the window to escape his boring routine and start enjoying new adventures.
In the titular role is 50-year-old Swedish actor Robert Gustafsson, widely known as “Sweden’s funniest man”.
Director Herngren explains: “I wanted Allan to be portrayed by an actor who could do all the character’s different adult ages in a credible way. When I had read half the book, I began to think of Robert Gustafsson. To me he is the only one who would do the role with credibility and comic timing. When we tested him in complete make-up the winter of 2012, I felt he was a very good choice. Besides that, I love strong characters and good acting. I hope it all shows when you see the film.”
Also starring are Mia Skäringer (who also acts alongside Herngren in Swedish TV’s comedy series Solsidan), Iwar Wiklander (Four Shades of Brown, 2004), and Jens Hultén (Skyfall (2012), and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)).
Herngren admits he felt the pressure when it came to making the screen version of such a successful book.
“It is always difficult to adapt a book to film, but I could not resist when I got the chance. It is a delightfully twisted story with rich characters, and situational comedy at its best. I know the expectations were high for the film, and this is of course tough, but I’d rather shoot a good story with high expectations, than an unloved story without expectations.”
In the movie, when Karlsson climbs out of the window, he embarks on an unexpected journey that involves a gang of criminals, murderers, a suitcase stuffed with cash, an elephant and an incompetent policeman. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but to Allan it is just an ordinary life, because not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the 20th century, he has actually played a key role in them, helping invent the atomic bomb, and being good friends with everyone from US presidents to Russian tyrants.
“Allan Karlsson is doing what many of us westerners should do,” says Herngren. “Do not worry about the future, use your gut instinct and do not fret over yesterday’s troubles. If a fraction of the audience takes some of this to heart from the film, I will be very pleased.”
The film has been a huge success, having been screened in more than 40 countries. It has earned more than US$50 million worldwide, making it the third-highest grossing Swedish film of all time after The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009). There has been talk of a sequel but it yet to be confirmed.
• The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is showing on Thursday October 29 at 6pm at Novo Cinema in World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi, and Friday October 30 at Ibn Battuta Mall Cinema in Dubai