Monday, September 24, 2018

Merry Christmas, Robin Hood

I haven't seen this particular DVD. However, I have seen the animated film, itself, called “Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons Julafton” in Swedish. It is shown every year on Christmas Eve at 19.00 sharp by the public service TV network in Sweden. “Karl-Bertil Jonssons Julafton” is based on a story by Tage Danielsson, who was a famous comedian with left-wing and anti-establishment views. During a period, he collaborated with Hans Alfredsson, who later became a successful film director and actor. This particular project, however, was Tage's own.

The story of Karl-Bertil is set during World War II, before Sweden became a welfare state. Karl-Bertil (who looks like a young Tage Danielsson) is a romantic and naïve 14-year old boy who wants to become like his idol, Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. There's just one problem: Karl-Bertil is himself extremely privileged, being the son of a millionaire.

The plot (which contains a lot of extremely funny one-liners, at least in Swedish!) revolves around Karl-Bertil's hapless attempts to help the underclass, and the inevitable conflicts with his father, who looks like a stereotypical “evil capitalist” and scrooge (fat belly, big hat, simplistic anti-Communism, etc). The story ends on a rather silly note, with the millionaires and aristocrats Karl-Bertil has been stealing from getting converted to the social gospel. But then, it's a Christmas story…

If you are a history buff, you will probably notice a lot of local color, including Nazi flags (sic) and the famous Swedish World War II poster “En svensk tiger”. There are also some anachronisms, such as TVs! When I saw “Christopher's Christmas Mission” the first time (around 1980?), the story looked very old fashioned, since very few poor people were left in Sweden. Today, the situation is sometimes even worse than described in Tage's Christmas tale. We could need a Robin Hood or two, ASAP. Of course, he would also have to double as William Tell.
But that's another show, as they say…

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