On Saturday night BBC4 showed The Man Who Smiled  starring Rolf Lassgard as Henning Mankell's detective Kurt Wallander.
This was the sixth of nine films produced by SVT [Sveriges Television] between 1994 and 2007 which all starred Rolf Lassgard. The films were scripted from the actual novels rather than based on new stories using Mankell's characters.
Lawyer Sten Tortensson contacts his old friend Wallander, because he believes the death of his father Gustav, also a lawyer, in a car crash was not an accident. Wallander is busy thinking about his own problems, which involve a mistake made on a work trip to Stockholm that will come back to haunt him.
But when Sten Torstensson is found shot through the eyes Wallander's team begin to investigate the lawyer's clients. Gustav worked for Skane's most popular man millionaire philanthropist Alfred Harderberg, who is of course too good to be true.
Rolf Lassberg's Kurt Wallander is the third interpretation of the character we have seen on British TV in the past couple of years; following the Kenneth Branagh and Krister Henriksson versions. There is bound to be a lot of discussion over the merits of the actor's performances and the respective quality of the productions.
My problem in deciding which I prefer is that I have only read five of the Wallander books [Before The Frost, Faceless Killers, Sidetracked, One Step Behind and The Fifth Woman] and that was about eight years ago.
If I had watched the Rolf Lassgard first I think he would be closer to my memory of the character, although with shorter hair. While I enjoyed Krister Henriksson in the part on the evidence of this one film, and taking into account my failing memory, Rolf Lassgard is more like the introspective depressing Wallander of the books.
The Man Who Smiled's excellent cinematography showed off the beautiful scenery around Ystad, and I thought the production was superior to the equivalent BBC Kenneth Branagh version.
Lassgard was aided by fine supporting performances from Kerstin Andersson as Wallander's boss Lisa Holgersson, Christer Faust as Svedberg, and the gorgeous Marie Richardson as Maja Thysell, Wallander's colleague and girlfriend. The part of Alfred Hardeberg was played by Claes Mansson, who is one of Sweden's best known comedians.
I am looking forward to next week's episode, Firewall, a two parter from 2006, which is scheduled for Saturday 18 December, and I think Monday 20 December.
A question: Why don't they show the nine films in order starting with Faceless Killers from 1994?