All episodes of Clark’s six-part Netflix real-life story of a Swedish celebrity criminal come with a rebuttal: “Based on facts and lies.” Director Jonas Ackerland immediately informs us that he does not want factual accuracy, but embraces his subject’s passion for hyperbole and self-mythology. The subject, Clark Olofsson, who once was a career bank robber but kept an entire country excited, gained international recognition for his role in the hostage stance that led to the term “Stockholm Syndrome”. Encouraged by Bill Scorseseguard’s tactical performance, the hyperactive crime cop narrates his story through the lens of its subject, boasting “I’m drawn because I am white and often escapes, and you’m not going to believe it, beautiful and attractive” confessional style.
In six episodes, Clark takes us through his endless collection of endless crimes: dozens of armed and unarmed robberies, an appendix to a police officer shooting, bombing, drug trafficking, and repeated prison escapes. While he delights in taking advantage of Sweden’s loose penal system, he may be tempted to call the show a glorification of his freewheeling exploits. When telling a story from the perspective of a criminal, the scenes of crime can often be captivating, and it is easy to lose the clear but perceived criticism of the criminals elevated to celebrity. Clark is not only a picture of a criminal who considers himself a folk hero in his own mind, but also an assessment of how a fugitive criminal practices witchcraft on everyone, the media that records his crimes, and the police trying to bring him down. Justice and the public were engrossed in the real crimes. But the show does not shatter the reality of his epic until the final scene. Therefore, it is too late for the moral calculation to say that the show is getting its reward.
If you want to go through your own account, there’s no problem with Clark being able to smile, be attractive and screw up. An early career criminal was like a worm thrown into the flames of notoriety. Gained notoriety better than crime. Having spent half of his life in prison, he can be considered a failure as a professional criminal. As a celebrity, he was a sensational success. A man driven by ego, fame, and sexuality rather than money, Clark was smart enough to know all angles, but was stupid enough not to know his own limits. Although Clark is charismatic, he is an unscrupulous, arrogant, self-promoting prankster who is unpopular. No matter the root. To sell such a character, you need an actor with inherent charisma. Scarsgard reveals more about that, revealing a twisted mystery and a tempting ambiguity that depicts how a pathological liar can lie to you and how a criminal can capture our imagination.
For Clark, the whole world is his playground, and its inhabitants are just NPCs. As the years go by, he traps a growing web of intelligent and ignorant accomplices in crime – and victims. Detective Tommy Lindstrom (Wilhelm Blംഗngren) is trapped in a game of cat and mouse for decades with Clark. Skorsguard portrays Clark as an ignorant, careless man who is always ready to spin and move forward with good humor in the aftermath. The men he pressured and the women he lured into his auction give a complete picture of his depressing influence on people. He’s a person who plays an attractive character on screen, but in real life you never want to run away.
During a prison sentence, Clark meets and seduces Maria (Hannah Bone), an innocent idealist who turns out to be his longtime girlfriend. The relationship is overly abusive as he lies, cheats on her and gasps her. But Maria, eager to see the good in him, feeds on the illusions of his glory: he can reform the penal system, give prisoners a voice, and even bring about the collapse of imperialist and capitalist structures. “With a strong voice, you can achieve anything you want, Clark,” she insists repeatedly. But whether Clark deports her to Beirut or Denmark, or incites her fellow prisoners to a hunger strike, it is always for his own gain – a realization that makes her aware a little too late. The six-day Normalmstorg bank robbery that led to the formation of “Stockholm Syndrome” has been reduced to a single episode. Through the captive Kiki (Alicia Agneson) we see a woman misinterpreting Clark’s love for her as an act of sympathy. If she retaliates for the captive’s affection, she does so out of sheer fear of intimidation. This is evident on Agneson’s anxious face, but through Ackerland’s humorous demeanor, everything she does to survive seems less serious than a lark.
From one sexcade, crime and imprisonment to the next, the gap between myth and reality can be narrow, from the cave entrance. In the words of Kurt Vonegat, “It all happened, more or less.” The ratio between truth and fiction is in the words of the narrator and excessively in the eyes of the observer. Truth is the subject of economics, when it deals with the stories of subjects with such inflated self-awareness. It is difficult to draw a line between where the person they are projecting starts and the person they end up with. The show has seemed a bit unfocused in recent episodes, however; From the beginning, almost all crime seems to be an attempt to build a mythology. If he prefers not to use masks when committing bank robberies, it is for that reason. In the pilot, when Clark is captured in the house of the Swedish Prime Minister, he dares to suggest to the man holding his gun, “One day, this will be a hell of a story … Clark Olofason was at gunpoint, but lost.”
Greater treatment than life is a reflection of Clark’s greater personality than life, a man who is arrogant enough to believe that he will decide where the line between right and wrong is. Over a four-decade-long career, Ackerland has directed music videos for artists such as Rockset, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Sigur Rose. Clark’s six episodes are made using similar tools and gimmicks: animated interlocks, split screens, chroma key composing, aggressive camera angles, and dizzy edits. The aspect ratio, lighting and colors vary based on the duration of the remembered moment: nostalgic or traumatic. Signs of Clark’s childhood trauma mixed throughout the season, growing up with an abusive alcoholic for a father, a mother driven to insanity. This dial-back-the-clock context still leaves Clark somewhat anonymous. Roughness plays for laughter. At one point, a scene in which a teenage clerk pulls down his pants ready to lose his virginity turns into a sausage sliding into a hot dog bun on the cheek of a very old woman. In an animated sequence, Clark Lounge finds a horn — as always, into the rhetorical distraction of his love affair with all sorts of pussies. The opening sequence acts as a statement of artistic merit: Clark narrates his story from the moment of his birth. The camera pans inside his mother’s womb to find an embryo with a Scarsguard’s head covered, as he tears through more than the fourth wall he calls his “first escape.”
The resolution lacks the confidence of its beginning. In the final episode, Clark’s biographer digs holes in the mythology he’s built around, reminding him of the remnants he left behind and revealing how his victims had to pick up the pieces for a chance to be rebuilt. “You use people, Clark,” she confronts him with a reality check. “For crimes, legitimacy, and sex. Then, when you’ve tired of them, and no longer need them, you just throw them in the trash and move on, without asking how they are or what they feel.” This last-minute condemnation feels almost like an appendage, an afterthought in a situation where the audience thinks the show is publicly hurting a criminal. Needless to say, the show does not care about a hero, as it does not portray Clark as an antihero. Unarmed laughter cannot hide his morals. Charm is invested with a quiz.
Criminals who have been involved in crime for decades but have the psychological status of a psychological state or have earned the label of national hero are no more. That’s where Clark’s appeal comes in. But after a while the fatigue starts and the show gets stuck in the same routine: Clark seduces a new woman, commits a new crime, is thrown behind bars, and then the routine starts again. The story could be told in three episodes. As befits the theme of the event, despite the routine, viewers may justify its flaws and captivate its visual invention and charismatic theme, with the desire to bring it to an end. Call it closure. Or call it the paradox of Stockholm Syndrome.
Clark is now streaming on Netflix.