Monday, December 13, 2010


This blog is now dormant. You can read all my old posts along with the new stuff at Crime Scraps Review

On Saturday night BBC4 showed The Man Who Smiled [2003] 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?


Blogger Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I haven't watched this one yet but the Guradian tv guide probably didn't help people find it by running the description for the Branagh version instead of the Lassgard one!

7:31 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I expect the Daily Mail TV guide got it right. ;o)

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Branagh forever

10:58 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

I know it makes a difference that I saw Rolf Lassgård in the role first, but I have always thought Krister Henriksson was too quiet for the role.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The character Maja was played by Maria Richardson. I thought she bore a stiking resemblance to Miraranda Richarson (Queen LiZ in Blackadder III) any agree?

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear that you now can watch the Lassgård-versions in the UK. As a swede, watching Lassgård even before all the books were written, for me he is Wallander, and I have read that he become that, more or less, even for the author Mankell. But theese tv-movies, made over a long period, are very different, with different directors. Some more realistic, some more "arty". Beside Lassgård many of the actors changes.
They reason BBC not show the films cronological may be that te first film or films may have become a bit dated.
(Lassgård is a great actor, watch him also in danish director Susanne Brier´s film....forgot the name.... but all of Susanne Brier is great)

2:43 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Oh, gosh, those of us across the Atlantic are green with envy.

We have seen the Kenneth Branagh episodes. Those are okay--much yelling or brooding, but far better than most of the mystery series over here which is on television.

Anything based on a book by Henning Mankell is bound to be good.

Now if a director could just figure out how to film "The Man from Beijing," with sets in four continents!

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first saw the Wallander TV series in the UK last year (2009) with Krister in the role and absolutly loved the series, then saw the Branagh version and didn't like it very much, as I prefered it in the original Sweedish,

Most recenly having watched Rolf Lassgård in the role I'm a little torn between Lassgård and Henrikkson but at least they are both a better Wallander than the branagh version, in my opinion.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Anon the more I see of Krister Henriksson and Rolf Lassgard as Wallander the weaker the Branagh performance appears.
A Brit playing Wallander is like a Swede trying to play Lord Peter Wimsey.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lassgård is the original Wallander. I have seen some of Henriksson and Branagh, but I don't think these even come close to the originals. Henrikson's performance is wooden, but everything else about those Wallanders was very, very weak indeed. The supporting actors, like detectives or whatever, are one of the main weaknesses as I recall (although would not bother watching any more of these). Altogether these Henrikson versions are much more bland, international - more like a copy of Spooks, 24, or something like that... Very poorly made: forget about it! Good that BBC shows Lassgård now, because it provides some real thrills for the Christmas months.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently binging on all things Swedish and crime having first come to this when the Beeb showed Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Wallander. I actually think his was better and closer to the character from the books than Henrikson's. He always seemed to be rather more of a 'comfortable' character than the driven and depressive cops portrayed by Branagh and Lassgard. The one thing that was better about that series was that it was in Swedish. This current series with Rolf Lassgard is the best of the three and a treat to look forward to over the next weeks.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Maja Thysell get back together with Kurt Wallander?

7:25 AM  
Blogger gemini said...

The Wallander series is really atmospheric and very addictive. I'm not sure whether Henrikson's or Lassgard's portrayal of Wallander is closest to the character in the books, but it really doesn't matter as each episode is great to watch. I also like the fact that the actors and actresses are not glamorous - it makes the characters much more real.

2:43 PM  

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