Sep 28, 2013

The Simple-Minded Murderer

Undoubtedly, if any Nordic nation has all but totally turned its back on Allfather Odin and replaced him with innately alien slave-morality-driven atheistic humanism and has ultimately been hit the worst by the terminal metaphysical disease of liberalism, it is Sweden. With their most popular contemporary films being the superficially sadomasochistic man-hating crime film trilogy based on the “Millennium series” written by commie feminist cuckold Stieg Larsson, it is quite apparent that Sweden is a spiritually sick country that makes the ethno-masochism of the filmmakers of German New Cinema seem rather benign by comparison. Maybe it all started with the melancholy melodramas of Ingmar Bergman (Through a Glass Darkly, Persona) or the cynically class conscious and culturally pessimistic feminist flicks of Mai Zetterling (Älskande par aka Loving Couples, Nattlek aka Night Games), but few national film industries have been so thoroughly and lunatically liberalized and culturally Marxified as that of the Swedes and there are few better examples of this perturbing phenomenon of both cultural and cinematic self-flagellation than Den enfaldige mördaren (1982) aka The Simple-Minded Murderer directed by Hans Alfredson (Egg! Egg! A Hardboiled Story, P & B) starring a rather young Stellan Skarsgård portraying a half-retarded fellow with an unflattering harelip. Sort of like a Swedish Forrest Gump, except relentlessly and stoically somber in the manner only Swedes know how to do and minus most the the humor, The Simple-Minded Murderer is an anti-fascist, anti-heimat film of sorts set during the 1930s in rural Skåne, Sweden, that quasi-operatically depicts the tragic events that occur after an Aryan handicapped young man’s mother dies and he is forced to become the virtual slave of a stereotypically evil Nazi factory owner who makes his life a living hell. Winning three Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute, including Best Director (Hans Alfredsson), Best Movie and Best Actor (Stellan Skarsgård), as well as the Silver Bear for Best Actor (Stellan’s role as the protagonist) at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival, The Simple-Minded Murderer is undoubtedly considered an unmitigated masterpiece of Swedish cinema, with alpha-auteur Ingmar Bergman even praising the flick, describing it as, “A deep indignation, turned into a powerful fairy-tale. Hasse Alfredssons resources seem unlimited and my admiration for his creativity and the wealth of his ideas is absolute." However, the film also has the sickening stench of post-WWII self-loathing, which has become a sort of quasi-kitschy cliché of Swedish cinema as demonstrated by internationally revered works like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) and its equally aesthetically and thematically repellant sequels based on far-leftist Larsson’s Millennium series. Directed by a man known for his idiosyncratic brand of “humorist humanism,” The Simple-Minded Murderer is an undeniably powerful and entrancing work largely aesthetically inspired by the composition Requiem (1874) aka Messa da Requiem by Italian romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi, but it is also a superlatively sad reminder that one of the most iconic figures of Swedish cinema is a violent and vengeful retarded killer. 

 Opening with mentally-challenged and harelip-adorned protagonist Sven (Stellan Skarsgård, himself a proud and vocal atheist humanist) driving his paraplegic girlfriend Anna (Maria Johansson) to the middle of nowhere in rural 1930s Sweden and hiding in an old house, The Simple-Minded Murderer—with its rather literal title—makes it quite clear from the very beginning that the protagonist has just committed a violent killing and is evading justice, especially after he throws a large bloodstained blade into a well, as the rest of the film provocatively unravels how the vengeful crime came to be. The only images he has seen of his father being that of a völkisch-like painting at the local museum of his dead daddy riding a horse on the beach nude and a small wallet-sized soldier portrait, Sven—a uniquely unlucky lad born with a cleft palate and suffering from both a glaring speech impediment and a lack of intellectual prowess—only had a mother growing up, so when she dies, his life is turned into a virtual hell after he is forced to live with cows and work for free at the farm of an evil fascist factory owner named Höglund (played by director Hans Alfredsson), a superlatively sadistic man that beats his chauffeur, taunts and terrorizes his wife, and takes great personal glee in burning the last bit of rent money given to him by a tenant on Christmas who could not afford to give him the money in the first place. Although giving Sven a sense of dignity for a moment or so by allowing him to act as his personal chauffeur and driving him to debauched aristocratic parties with drunk naked chicks, Höglund eventually goes too far when he forces the halfwit Aryan boy to dress in drag for the entertainment of the local National Socialist party that the factory owner belongs to, thus ushering in an unlikely and ultimately murderous rivalry between a poor retarded fellow and a nasty Nazi aristocrat that concludes in tragedy for all parties involved. 

 Deciding enough is enough, Sven escapes Höglund farm and takes residence with the Andersson family, who are somewhat successful tenant farmers who lease land from ‘fascist pig’ Höglund. Under the roof of the kindly Anderssons, Sven develops a sense of dignity and worth he never felt before, even falling in love with the family’s crippled daughter Anna, which the girl's parents encourage, but things take a turn for the worst when high-class heathen Höglund, who is quite angered by the family’s genuine charity to a mentally-challenged man that he sees as his own personal slave, demands his harelipped serf back. Refusing to argue with peasants (as he states himself), Höglund wages a war of physical and psychological terrorism against Sven and the Anderssons, even attempting to impoverish the family, which, with his monetary prowess, he does quite easily. It is not until Höglund has his callous and perverted (he reads ebony porn magazines while working) chauffeur destroy Sven’s fancy motorcycle—a special item that the special boy worked hard to buy and get a license for—that the disabled young man begins to see red and decides to take aggressive action of the ostensibly holy homicidal sort. A deeply devout Christian in the ‘true believer’ sense not unlike the crazed character Johannes from Carl Th. Dreyer’s Ordet (1955) who went so insane that he thought he was Jesus Christ himself after reading too much Søren Kierkegaard, Sven, who is initially too sensitive and childlike to drown a rat (which he fails doing early on in the film), believes he has angelic homicidal powers after supposedly being visited by three angels and believing the sacred seraphim want him to take revenge and join them in heaven, the outsider hero with a harelip grabs a large blade (with the supposed angels following him behind), goes to Höglund in broad daylight in front of a number of witnesses and maliciously murders the proletarian-exploiting fascist factory man in cold blood in what is indubitably the most therapeutic revenge scene in all of cinema history. In the end, Sven takes his limp limbed lady love Anna with him out to the middle of nowhere so they can assumedly start a new fairytale life together without being discovered by the police. In a rather unhappy twist, Anna, spotting police and her father closing in on them at their forest hideout, shoots both Sven and herself in a sort of handicapped take on Romeo and Juliet. 

 Indeed, while contemporary Swedish cinema certainly demonstrates the Swedes have become spiritual cuckolds and eunuchs of sorts, that does not mean these degenerated descendents of Vikings have become totally passive and pathetic people as one of the most common and potent themes of modern cinema in the Nordic nation is good old unadulterated revenge, albeit of the fashionable anti-fascist/anti-capitalist fashion, with The Simple-Minded Murderer being arguably the greatest of these films. Of course, aside from the more bitchy and bitter than sweet feminist-fueled work The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its equally overrated sequels, the Guldbagge-Award-winning flick Evil (2003) aka Ondskan—a work based on an autobiographical novel written by treacherous Swedish journalist Jan Guillou who worked as a spy for the Soviet KBG—is also a highly viscerally vengeful anti-heimat work set during the 1950s about a young man who single-handedly destroys the ‘fascist’ aristocratic classic structures and politics of a private boarding school. Even Swedish horror films, most notably the vampire flick Let the Right One In (2008) directed by Tomas Alfredson—not by coincidence the son of The Simple-Minded Murderer director/actor Hans Alfredson—also focuses on revenge, albeit of the supernatural coming-of-age sort where the boy protagonist sides with an ancient eunuch vampire who helps him literally slaughter his child enemies. Indeed, a sort of degenerate Odin archetype might live on today in the collective unconscious of the Swedish people as demonstrated by contemporary Swedish cinema, but too many centuries of Christianity and decades of anti-fascist communist/feminist/multicultural propaganda have turned these lapsed Vikings into a bunch of slave-morality-sanctioning metaphysical slaves who, as demonstrated by The Simple-Minded Murderer, prefer filmic folk heroes of the deformed and rather retarded sort to heroic knights in shining armor and virtuous kings of the enemy-exterminating sort. A carelessly cliché work set in the 1930s at the rise of fascism that assumes in the Trotskyite sense that fascists and factory owners are one in the same and that all the masters derive grand pleasure for perniciously poking and prodding at the figurative wounds of morally virtuous slaves, The Simple-Minded Murderer is a cinematic work that would be great if it were not for its redundancy in self-righteous quasi-red revenge politics. Of course, just as the Germanic races Aryanized Christianity, so have they done the same with commie politics and there is probably no greater cinematic example of Odinic bloodlust meets Nordish Christianity meets Nordic far-leftism than The Simple-Minded Murderer, a work of uncompromising celluloid vengeance that is ultimately compromised in terms of pseudo-moralistic redundancy of the hopeless holocaust-atoning variety. 

-Ty E

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