The Man on the Roof

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“Our bloody cohesion has become like some kind of second nature to us! “

 I’m writing about Sjöwall – Wahlöö’s The Story of a Crime under READING. Several of the books have been filmed, both in Sweden and internationally – with more or less success. (I’m not counting the films that are mass-produced today and that have very little to do with the original novels.) The masterpiece of them is still Bo Widerberg’s The Man on the Roof from 1976.

A policeman (Nyman) who is a patient at a hospital in Stockholm, is brutally murdered, stabbed repeatedly with a bayonet. The thriller shows how the police officer Martin Beck and his colleagues are trying to catch the killer. It reaches its climax when the killer barricades himself on a roof top in central Stockholm with an automatic rifle.

Kollberg: “Who was Nyman?”

Beck: “He was a bad cop,”

Kollberg: “Wrong! He was a fucking bad cop!”

Kollberg continues with giving a daunting but not altogether surprising picture of a policemen’s corps d’esprit where everybody covers each other’s back, tampers with reports and basically lies until he’s blue to free each other and his superiors. This deep-rooted system will later on turn out to have played a major role as a motive for both the murder of Nyman and the events that follow.

Sjöwall-Wahlöö created a for Sweden new kind of detective story, but Bo Widerberg created the first Swedish action movie. I was at first quite surprised of his choice of Martin Beck. Carl Gustaf Lindstedt was mainly known as a comedian, but after having seen the film I was fully convinced – he was Martin Beck! 

 

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