If a man lives a hundred years, he is bound to witness history happening, not just a moment like a walk on the moon or the assassination of a President or the Berlin Wall knocked down — the veritable passage of history. And if this hundred year old person is depicted in film, he will doubtless rub shoulders with some very famous history makers. That is why it’s always interesting to watch such a person’s life, even if fictional, unfold on the screen. Opportunities for humorous confrontations and anecdotes are endless.
Though they see the world changing before them in paradigm shifting ways, they’re too close to notice the big picture. They’re just surviving the tides and eddies of establishment after establishment. Noteworthy examples are: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman 1974), Little Big Man (1970), Forest Gump (1994), Orlando (1992),
So it is with Allan Karlson (played by Robert Gustafsson). Shortly before his orphanhood in adolescence, his mother told him, ‘What is, is.’ She also wisely told him, decades before Nike copyrighted the phrase, ‘Just do it!’ Both observations left Allan with a nonchalant attitude and ability to just roll with it. And thus starts his picaresque journey, sometimes making decision as to his course of action, mostly following opportunities as they presented themselves.
Without giving too much away, Allan on his hundredth birthday climbs out the first floor window of his nursing home and starts his very eventful next journey. Through flashbacks, we watch his careers seamlessly move from the Spanish Civil War soldier to a team member of the Manhattan Project during World War II to befriending Einstein (Herbert, not Albert, to international intrigue and more. He may be blasé about it all, but his confrontations with people of historic note are the highlight of the film.
There must be some underlying message to this film. If so, none were driven home. Maybe it’s that we should never underestimate the face value of old people we meet. There is much more to them than meets the eye. r am I project this tried and true message. Or maybe it’s that some people have good genes and are lucky – the survivors — and don’t gain anymore wisdom than the rest of us. It would be for each audience to judge. It is of note that the author of this story was nowhere near a hundred years old when he wrote the novel on which this film is based..
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Director: Felix Herngren
Writer: Felix Herngren (screenplay), Hans Ingemansson (screenplay) from the novel by Jonas Jonasson
Cast: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skäringer
Time: 114 min.
Opening May 15 at the Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco; Rialto Cinemas Elwood in Berkeley; and Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael.