It´s the 1930’s in Skåne, the south of Sweden. Sven (Stellan Skarsgård) is a feeble-minded, hare-lipped, but yet kind and righteous young man. Most people see him as the village idiot. When Sven’s mother dies, he is “taken cared of” by the rich and despotic landowner Höglund (Hans Alfredsson). Sven is forced to work on Höglund’s farm without pay, and sleep among cows in the stables. Additional verbal humiliation is piled on top of these inhumane acts, until Sven finds some sympathy and assistance from a kind family nearby. They decide to take him in, and Sven is payed for his daily chores and manages to save his earnings and buy a motorcycle — defeating Höglund’s attempt to prevent him from getting a license. The wheelchair bound daughter Anna (Maria Johansson) takes interest in Sven as well. But, Höglund is determined to ruin the family and he manages to do so by paying off all the farmer’s creditors and then expelling the family from their homestead. Pushed beyond his capacity to bend, Sven takes refuge in the bible and in his nightly visions three avenging angels appears before him and encourages him to take action against Höglund. Sven will confront Höglund no matter what…

“The Simple-Minded Murderer” (Swedish: “Den Enfaldige Mördaren” ) won awards for Best Director (Hans Alfredsson), Best Film and Best Actor (Stellan Skarsgård) at the 18th Guldbagge Awards in Sweden in 1982. Stellan Skarsgård won as well the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival in 1982 for his role as Sven. Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman also enjoyed the film. Calling it: “A deep indignation, turned into a powerful fairy-tale. Hasse Alfredsson´s resources seems unlimited and my admiration for his creativity and the wealth of his ideas are absolute”. This is a classic swedish dark movie tale of revenge, family matters, being an outcast, evil, good, love, religion and hope. Stellan Skarsgård is doing one of his best roles ever if you ask me, and despite his normal good nature and funny ways, Hans Alfredsson manages to be as evil as he can be in his role as Höglund. You just want Sven to stand up for himself and take revenge on Höglund which he eventually does. Yes, the movie feels maybe a bit dated in the editing and scene structure at times, but it still works. My only minus in this movie is Alfredsson´s decision to add scenes set in the present in the end, which just makes no real sense. Yes, he tried to communicate that this sort of thing might still be happening and time is fluctuant, but it doesn´t work. He has been sceptical of this decision himself as well later on. Nevertheless, this is a must see. (4 out of 5)

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