Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rest in peace, Per Oscarsson...

I’m gonna begin 2011 with a sad note, Per Oscarsson died yesterday – his house burned down and he, together with his wife Kia Östling died in the fire. I can’t state how important Per Oscarsson has been for the film- and theatre legacy in Sweden. He had a very special acting style which became odder and odder over the years, easy to imitate – but impossible to look down at. He was one of the most famous actors in Sweden, up there with Max Von Sydow and Erland Josephson.

Oscarsson was a true international actor and did his fair share of bigger productions, far from the Swedish borders. Often as the baddie, or Russians or Germans – the typical characters a Swedish actor with an accent gets. Sam Peckinpah’s TV-movie Noon Wine, Anthony Mann’s A Dandy in Aspic, The Last Valley (1971), The Night Visitor from the same year, the excellent Agatha Christie-movie Endless Night, The Blockhouse with Peter Sellers, the monster in Calvin Floyd’s Victor Frankenstein (he worked with Calvin Floyd’s 1981 movie The Sleep of Death) and a couple of early Mats Helge Olsson-productions. He was the co-producer of Olsson’s boring historical comedy Sverige åt Svenskarna, which made him go bankrupt. For you Stieg Larsson-fantastics out there, he also starred in The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

A personal favourite of mine is Arne Mattsson Vaxdockan, a surreal and controversial thriller where he plays a man falling in love with a mannequin doll.

But he might be most famous for the biggest TV-scandal in Sweden during the sixties, when he started a striptease during a monologue. It was at Hylands Hörna, the most popular family-show in Sweden (probably the only one), and EVERYONE that had a TV was watching that show. People demanded his head on a stick after seeing Oscarsson in only his underwear – and Oscarsson forever was connected to the wonderful Fuck You-attitude that he in a gentle way learned Sweden.

When me and Markus Widegren made Kraftverk 3714 some years ago I wrote to Per Oscarsson to ask him if he wanted a role in our movie. I got a hand-written letter back, with a very polite “no thanks”. I need to dive in to my old archive and dig that up, so I never will loose it.

Rest in peace, Per. You won’t be forgotten.


Anonymous said...

I would say that he was one of the greatest of all time. He appeared in so many different productions. From very good movies for the whole family, Ronja Rövardotter and Kan du vissla Johanna? comes to my mind. He was superb in Svält. And what about the series of movies about the detectives in Strömstad? Pretty mainstream, but his original style of acting made it interesting. I don´t think it´s confirmed that he and his wife was in the house but they seem to have disappeared, and that could probably only mean that they died. It´s so tragic. R.I.P

theomas said...

It's not sure yet he's died. There is no confirmation.

Ninja Dixon said...

Oh yeah, he probably got away with some bruises.

Ninja Dixon said...

But seriously, I would be very happy if it turned out he was alive. But... I doubt it.