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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

by director/co-writer Felix Herngren

The tale of the delightfully easygoing and childish Allan Karlsson, the titular 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared, is perhaps a feel-good story of sorts, but the process of making movies is in no way easy. On the contrary, it’s a bit like going to war. (I’m sure I’m probably quoting some famous director here, but who cares, I can vouch for it 100%.)

The war is never having enough resources, always racing against the sun’s eternal repositioning, or the film crew’s plummeting blood-sugar levels. It’s cameras breaking down, aircraft noises drowning out the lines, nervous extras ruining the shot. It’s a battle of wills with obstinate child actors and even more obstinate elephants, and always the wrong weather.

My war was called The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared, and the battles were fought every day.

It’s easy to lose hope and patience, and at the times I was about to do just that, the protagonist Allan Karlsson stepped up and became my mentor in the process. His way of relating to things in life was shown to be directly translatable in my own private war, making that film.

Allan often says: “Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be.”  Yes, there’s a lot of truth to that. And you have to just let things happen sometimes. So Allan and I soon shared the same mantra. And it helped me find peace in otherwise rather chaotic situations.

I particularly remember the last week of shooting in Thailand, when we arrived in a country under water, where the rain had poured down for weeks, and the roads at our shooting locations had disappeared completely.  The exhausted crew gave me that look: “Damn shame it had to end here, Felix, so close to the finish line.” In those moments Allan was important to me. What would Allan have done in this situation, I thought. He wouldn’t get himself all worked up about it, that’s for sure. So I didn’t let myself get worked up about it either. Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be. So it had to be as it was then—and many other times. And that was precisely what made the movie what it is—namely a film.

P.S. Suddenly the sun shows through those intractable clouds in time for shooting in Thailand.