Quarantine Film Diary – Day 9 – The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Stuck in the Czech Republic as a result of a travel ban announced after the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I watch one random film a day until the travel ban is lifted to keep some of my sanity intact.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a Swedish film with a self-explanatory premise. The title character is Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson), who escapes his retirement home and fortuitously finds himself running away from a gang of thugs after accidentally stealing a bagful of money from them.

Fortuitous events are not unusual in the life of Karlsson, we discover. An abridged biography of his life is inter-cut with the current-day narrative, and we find that his penchant for explosions and happy-go-lucky attitude has found him playing important role from teh Spanish Civil War through the Cold War.

Indeed, while the film has nothing to do with the brilliant 2000 Year Old Man sketch by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, it shares common elements with another American classic: Forrest Gump. Whereas Robert Zemeckis’ film, which is also based on a novel, is more saccharine, Felix Herngren’s movie is more interested in the laughs and has little time for romanticism and nostalgia.

There is a pleasant carnivalesque air about the film, though aside from the presence of an elephant, it is never as spectacular. In fact, despite the eventful life of the lead character, everything is treated as normal and true to the core message of the film, which is uttered by Allen’s mother’s dying words: “Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be.”

This mantra is translated cinematically as deadpan and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared seems to fall more on the Buster Keaton side of slapstic rather than the Charlie Chaplin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really deliver the laughs – despite the leading actor being Gustafsson being considered “the funniest man in Sweden.”

HUNDRAÅRINGEN SOM KLEV UT GENOM FÖNSTRET OCH FÖRSVANN | Director – Felix Herngren | Writers – Felix Herngren, Hans Ingemansson, Jonas Jonasson | Starring – Robert Gustafsson | Sweden, France, Germany | 2013

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