Some people come on this earth and live a life that, if not witnessed by others, would definitely be considered a work of fiction, too illogical to be true. Clark Olofsson was one such person. It is very difficult to say what kind of human being he was. Was he a bad person, or was he a hero? Was he a revolutionary who fought for the rights of the prisoners, or was he just a petty bank robber? To understand Clark Olofsson was not an easy task. He ousted us from our beliefs and made us question what’s right and what’s wrong.
Clark Olofsson could be called the first celebrity criminal of Sweden. The Swedish series “Clark,” directed by Jonas Akerlund, takes us through the life of the fabled, most wanted, and most desired bank robber of all time. The man because of whom the term “Stockholm Syndrome” came into existence. Clark had the most eventful life and his inspirations were unique and sometimes not comprehendible too. Sometimes you felt that his whole life was a scam, and sometimes you felt sympathetic towards a man who had such a traumatic childhood. So let’s try to understand this enigma portrayed by Bill Skarsgard on screen, who prickled and mocked the Swedish authorities way too much for their liking, and from a bank robber, elevated to the coveted position of a national hero.
Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
Clark Oderth Olofsson was born in Trollhattan, on February 1st, 1947, and little did the doctors and nurses present at the scene know that this little boy would be behind one the most baffling robberies of all time in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, that became a topic of discussion for every criminologist. Both his parents were alcoholics, and he had to face a lot of domestic violence at the hands of his father. Though his mother was very affectionate towards him, she was often irresponsible in her approach. Because of which, a lot of times, when Clark was beaten mercilessly by his father, she was not even there to protect him. They should never have become parents, as one was imprudent, and the other resorted to brutal corporal punishment just to take out his frustrations on a kid who could not reciprocate. Clark was mostly petrified throughout her childhood. As a child couldn’t understand if life was supposed to be like this only, or that something wrong was actually being committed against him. His traumatic childhood had a huge impact on his psychology and played a key role in making him a celebrity gangster. Clark said that he had always been in love.
Being around ladies, being the center of attraction, and earning money was never a problem for young Clark Olofsson. From an early age, he got into a tussle with the legal system. He was detained and put into juvenile correctional homes for petty crimes. He looted banks and stole vehicles, and bit by bit, he learned to be the master of his own destiny. Once, he was rowing on a lake in Flen, Sweden, in 1965 with a bunch of guys when he found a big house on the shoreline, and decided to trespass and steal from there. They realized that the place named Harpsund was owned by Tage Erlander, the Prime Minister of Sweden. There was a kind of epiphany that Clark had at that moment. He knew he was going to do something great in his life. Clark’s destiny and the politics of the nation were intertwined in such a manner that it was inseparable. The political landscape had an impact on his activities and vice versa.
Clark met with an accident, and the doctor almost pronounced him dead when he magically came back to life once again. The event was a metaphor for his whole life, actually, as whenever people, politicians, and friends thought that they had seen the last of him, he sprung back into action, surprising them. In 1966, he went to Lovsta Youth Detention Center and escaped once again before serving his full sentence of 18 months. During that period, he met Madou and her mother, Liz. Clark shared an intimate relationship with both the ladies. He falsely told them that he was studying at Harvard and made them believe that he belonged to an affluent family. He stayed with them for a few days and then left, stealing whatever he could.
His friend, Gunnar, with whom he was planning a bank heist, killed a police officer, and that’s when Tommy Lindstrom came into the picture for the very first time in Clark’s life. Tommy became obsessed with Clark, and it became his life mission to put him behind bars. Clark was always a step ahead, and Tommy had to face a lot of embarrassing situations because of him. Gunnar was caught by Tommy, and through him, he came to know that Clark would be going to meet Madou. Clark was caught when he went to meet Madou and accidentally shot a police officer in the woods. Clark was charged with many things but was acquitted in the case where Gunnar killed the police officer. He became a sensation because of his good looks and charming personality. His journey to becoming the most sensationalized and wanted criminal of all time had just begun.
There was a thing about Clark Olofsson. He was extremely individualistic in his approach. He was not only a narcissist but a selfish person. He fell in love with a lot of women and had relationships with them, but he didn’t even flinch once before abandoning or cheating on them. Clark’s happiness was not dependent on anyone else, and he was the master of the rooster when it came to his life.
Clark asked Madou in 1969 to marry him when he was in prison, and got a day’s release for the same. But guess what? He abandoned Madou and left for a vacation. He was caught once again by Tommy and brought to Tidaholm Maximum Security Prison. He met Maria in prison, who had come to perform a play for the prisoners. Maria had staunch political ideologies and inclinations and wanted to bring about a change in the system. Clark pretended to be interested in the leftist movement, which was at its epitome in the late 60s, just so that he could have an intimate relationship with her. He didn’t care about the system or politics and was least interested in what was happening in the country. But he bluffed to be this anarchist who was not only interested in knowing what was happening in the political landscape of the country but one who wanted to wage a war against the oppressive measures taken by a capitalistic society. After hearing all that Clark has said, Maria advises him to raise his voice against the system, so that the people know that he is not a criminal but a victim of the unjustified class structure.
Clark thought of a master plan. If he became problematic for the authorities, then he wouldn’t have to break out of the prison, but they would be forced to release him. He started a political movement, by becoming the Editor-in-Chief of the in-house prison journal, though he himself found everything he said utterly stupid. Within no time, prisoners from other facilities started joining the conversation, and Clark had garnered a lot of support and was being seen as the flagbearer of prison reform. The media got interested in him, and he started charging for giving interviews. He was amused that he got money for talking about stuff that meant nothing to him. He asked inmates to go on a hunger strike until their demands had been completed, but he himself ate when nobody was watching, without an iota of guilt. Life was good for Clark Olofsson. He was having fun with Maria, politicians were talking about him, he was getting paid for giving interviews, and it seemed that fame had decided to stay with him forever. All his demands were met, and he was transferred to the Study Yard in Uppsala in 1972, a place he called a summer camp rather than a prison.
He decided that he would run away from there to Beirut with Maria, as he was done with staying in captivity. He escaped from the prison and left for Beirut, but on the way, he met an old acquaintance named Kaj Robert, a.k.a. Kajan, who told him that he was going to Hamburg. Clark decided to reroute and go to Hamburg. Kajan was reluctant to accompany Clark, as opposed to Clark, who was exuberant after meeting his old pal. Kajan knew that being with Clark meant trouble. He was a dominant personality who didn’t listen to anybody. They reached Hamburg where Clark Olofsson gave an interview to Kvallsoppet, a media house, to let the world know that he is not an absconding criminal but a social reformer, though in reality he didn’t mean anything he said. They spent all their money and later decided to rob a bank. Tommy Lindstrom got a hold of Kajan, who told him that Clark had gone to Baraut and not Beirut. It was a comedy of errors, and instead of finding him in Lebanon, Tommy launched a search mission for him in India, while Clark started his new life in Beirut.
Clark Olofsson moved to Beirut and partnered with a local named Osman to smuggle hash, hidden in oranges, to Sweden. He met his old friend Kurre there, who agreed to help him with the distribution. Clark robbed a bank once again and got involved romantically with a girl named Ingela. All this time, Maria had believed that Clark was now a changed man, but obviously, it was not so, and he had no intention of mending his ways in the future either. He was sentenced to six years in prison, and Maria was devastated by the news. Clark met a man named Jan-Erik Olsson in prison (with whom he was later involved in the Norrmalmstorg robbery), who was somewhat a fan of Clark’s reputation. He wanted to be like him and become a celebrity gangster. He heard all his stories and took notes. Clark planned to break free from the prison, and Jane Olsson volunteered to help him, but their plan failed. Maria comes to meet Clark in prison and tells him how disappointed she is in him. Clark promises to be a better human being and persuades her to stay. For a moment, you believe that he actually feels something for Maria. But the feeling quickly dissipates when Ingela comes and visits him as soon as Maria leaves and tells him that she is pregnant with his baby. Clark never hesitated to cheat on anybody, and he never felt guilty about breaking the trust of his loved ones.
What Led To The Inception Of Stockholm Syndrome?
On August 23rd, 1973, Tommy Lindstrom paid a surprise visit to Clark in prison. He was being taken somewhere, and he didn’t understand what was happening. A guy had entered the Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, and had demanded to meet Clark Olofsson. He had taken three people as hostages(though later it was known that there were four hostages and the police were misinformed), so the police had no other option than to bring Clark to the scene and agree to the demands of the robber. The terrorist inside the bank was none other than Jan Erik Olsson, who had promised Clark to get him out of jail. Clark went inside, and the world witnessed a situation that they had never seen or heard of before.
Clark Olofsson wanted to conspire with Olsson to steal all the money. But he also wanted to become a national hero. People who were there to witness the scene never came to know that what Clark did, was intentional or it was just a fluke. He made the hostages believe that they were not under any threat. He arranged good food for them and even wooed a hostage named Kristen Ehnmark. He made them believe that the actual villains were the police authorities and not him. At the same time, he played with the police, too, telling them that Olsson was a dangerous criminal and that the hostages would be in grave peril if his demands were not met. Kristen, the hostage, also talked to Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden, and told him how Clark was trying to save them from the threat of the police authorities, whom they considered a hostile force. The police eventually broke in after six days, but Clark got what he wanted. The media and the people crowned him as a national hero as no hostages had died. The nature of events led to the inception of the term, Stockholm Syndrome.
He also stole a huge amount of money, and just when he thought that it was the best day of his life, he was given the news that his father had passed away. It brought back all those memories of childhood, where he was abused, beaten, and tortured. He had traveled the world, had the time of his life, got whatever he wanted, and he was even considered a national hero by many, but those instances still haunted him, and the flashes kept coming back each night. Clark had realized that the trauma, the nightmares and the memories had become an intrinsic part of his life and he had no option other than living with it.
‘Clark’ Ending Explained: Why Didn’t Sussi Korsner Publish Olofsson’s Biography?
Maria’s mother was directing a play called “Dandelion Children,” and she wanted Clark to act in it. She thought that with his life experiences, he could bring about a much-needed realism. Clark agrees to play it, but on the day of the show runs away from the scene, and also takes Maria with him. He brainwashed her by telling her that he wanted to be a part of a real revolution, which theater could only aspire to bring, but according to him, it was delusional to think that something of that sort could happen. They left for Copenhagen, where Clark met Kurre, his old pal, who took them to a hippy settlement in a place called Christiania. The hippies staying there wanted to start a revolution but didn’t have the resources to do so. They told Clark to rob a bank and help them. Clark got an excuse to do what he liked the most in the world. It was easy money for him. He stole a huge amount and gave a negligible amount to the people he was staying with. He and Kurre escaped the scene, but Maria’s trust was broken forever. She stayed back, and the police caught her. Maria had left her family and fought with them for Clark. She believed that one day he would live up to the title of national hero, but he didn’t. She understood that there was no point in talking to him because he would again lie to her and break her trust.
Kurre and Clark embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. They stole a boat and sailed all across the world. Finally, they arrived in Ostend, Belgium. Clark decided to part ways from there. Kurre begged to accompany him, but Clark had made up his mind, and emotional attachment was a concept alien to Clark.
On a train to Brussels, Clark met Marijke Demuynck, who was going to be his future wife. They hit it off instantly and started living together. Clark knew that eventually, he had to arrange for some money, to support their lifestyle. So Clark reached Gothenburg, Sweden, to do what he did best: rob a bank. He voluntarily gave himself in after the heist, hiding a huge chunk of money beforehand. Clark had a theory that sometimes you need to be caught, and then only you can get your freedom. He went to the prison and just when his sentence was about to get over he stabbed a man, while out on a day’s release and was sentenced to two years more. He served his full sentence and also met Sussi Korsner in the prison, who was writing a book on him and frequently interviewed the fabled robber to understand him better.
After his release, Clark Olofsson left for Belgium and stayed there with his wife and son. But he continued his illegal activities and was once again caught for being involved in drug trafficking. The judge sentenced him to 10 years. The people who knew him were utterly disappointed in him, even Tommy, who had chased him his whole life, in a hope that one day he would see some change in Clark Olofsson. They had given up just like Sussi Korsner, who had decided that she wouldn’t publish the book that she had been writing about Clark. Time and again, life had given Clark Olofsson the opportunity to mend his ways and follow the right path. But he had just disappointed people, broken their trust, abandoned his own kin, and used everybody who came his way. He just lived for himself. He never cared about anybody in his life. Yes, it is a fact that Clark never resorted to violence like his own father did, but somewhere down the line, he too made people extremely sad and scarred them for life due to the affiliation they had with him. He treated people like objects that served their purpose, and then he moved on, disposing of them. Sussi asks him how it feels, knowing that he has ruined so many lives. Clark does not answer. You expect that at that moment, the man would stop being a narcissist for once and enter into a mode of self-introspection where he would think about his life and his actions. But no. Clark Olofsson was a selfish narcissist, and he decided to stay that way forever.
Is Clark Olofsson Alive? Where Is He Now?
Though the 2022 Netflix series, “Clark,” is based on the life of the fabled criminal, it takes creative liberties and tries to present everything in a lighthearted and comical manner. The Swedish series takes inspiration from the autobiography named, “Vafan var det som hande,” but at times the events are dramatized for the screen, and executed in a way that is entertaining for the viewers. For example when Clark Olofsson sailed in a boat with Kurre, and landed in Belgium, the intricacies of the journey might not be the same as the reality. Even during the Norrmalmstorg robbery in Stockholm, fear and chaos enveloped the whole city, but the makers have shown it in a very different tinge. A lot of times what we see on the screen might not be a replica of the true facts, as it is a perception of the third person who in all likelihood was not there to witness everything first hand. Jonas Akerlund has resorted to a stylised approach, but has kept the essence of the narrative intact. Clark Olofsson was indeed somebody who didn’t care about anybody else other than himself. After being caught for drug smuggling, as told in the series, Clark was once again convicted in 2008 for running a drug cartel. He served the sentence, and got out in 2018. Though he went to Sweden after his release, latest reports have said that the infamous robber now resides in Belgium.