Sunday, December 5, 2010

Skytten (1977)

In 1976 Mannen på Taket was released in Sweden, and it’s still considered one of the best Swedish movies ever made – and it’s my favourite so far. A gritty, raw, political and tension-filled cop-movie about a man taking revenge on society for the death of his wife and the loss of his child. I have no idea if that movie inspired the Danes to make Skytten, but there is some similarities – but still very different movies in style and message.

Peter Steen is Niels Winther, a controversial journalist that one night, in a TV-debate, says that it could be necessary to use force to stop storage of nuclear waste in Denmark. These words get stuck in the head of one man (Jens Okking) who decides to make reality of this. He first shoots some warning shots, but when he no one notices this he takes down a dog… but when he still don’t get any attention he goes even further… At the same times he sends tapes with messages to Winther, who of course gives these tapes to the police, who starts to interfere with his and his wife’s life in more ways than they could wish.

I would say that Skytten (English title is The Marksman) is very different from Mannen på Taket. The visuals looks fantastic, the camera work is perfection – but less gritty and experimental compared to Bo Widerberg’s classic from the year before. It’s also harder to understand Jens Okking’s reason for doing what he does, but I guess he’s just mad – or very, very naive. It’s also not clear which side the movie stands on, when it comes to the political message about nuclear waste in Denmark. For me that’s a bad thing, because I think a movie like this need to make a standpoint – or at least be a bit stronger showing each sides reasons. The ending is both bleak and powerful, with several questions left unanswered – which I love.

But fuck the comparison with the Swedish masterpiece, because Skytten is still a great thriller! It’s one of those edge-of-the-seat thrillers with some truly shocking moments. When they first victim was shot I literary jumped out of the sofa! Skytten never stays away from showing some stuff that a normal Hollywood-movie never would do. The blood flowing over beautiful summer-Copenhagen is violent and in-your-face.

The highlight of the movie is Jens Okking as the marksman. He’s an excellent actor, one of those that feel completely natural on screen. He never shows any emotions here, no silly faces or stupid dialogues to show what kind of person he is. It’s in the eyes, just in the eyes. I want to watch Lars Von Trier’s Riget again just to be able to watch Okking once again roam the corridors of Rigshospitalet.

The Danish DVD is of brilliant quality, the movie looks like it was shot yesterday. Just Danish subtitles, which is a pity for you who’s not familiar with the Scandinavian languages. I hope it will come a English-friendly DVD or Blu-Ray some day…

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