Is Netflix Series ‘Clark’ Based On A True Story?


The 2022 Netflix series “Clark,” directed by Jonas Akerlund, is based on true events from the life of Clark Olofsson, who, from a petty crook, became the first celebrity gangster in Sweden. The man was enigmatic, and often people didn’t understand how he was able to accomplish what he did in his life. He was unabashed in his approach and extremely selfish in his vendettas. The man had no emotional ties. Yes, he was in many relationships, but he served himself first. Everything in his life was in accordance with his whims and fancies, be it his friendships, relationships, or any other aspect.

The character of Clark Oderth Olofsson is portrayed by Bill Skarsgard, who, through his performance, gives us a sneak peek inside the cerebral cortex of one of the most notorious human brains of all time. Many times, writers and directors tend to fabricate facts to make the narrative more interesting and entertaining for the audience. They take creative liberties to enhance the outcome. So let’s see to what extent the sanctity of the happenings in the life of Clark Olofsson were kept intact, as everybody is eager to know how one man could have such an eventful life, which, if not documented, would have been believed to be as real as a unicorn.

Was Clark Olofsson Responsible For The Creation Of Stockholm Syndrome?

The Norrmalmstorg robbery, as shown in the series, Clark, actually led to the creation of the term Stockholm Syndrome. It was coined by Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist who coined the term after studying the behavioral patterns that the hostages  in the robbery. As a matter of fact, a lot of scientists and intellectuals believed that it was more of a survival strategy on the part of the hostages than an actual behavioral pattern. So let’s go through the events of that day and try to understand whether the hostages actually went through psychological brainwashing, which came to be known as Stockholm Syndrome, or they just played smart to save their lives.

On August 23rd, 1973, Clark Olofsson became a part of something that changed the course of history. Many times, a nation faces such events that it has never been privy to ever before. The robbery at Norrmalmstorg, in Kreditbanken, became one such event. A guy named Jan Erik Olsson had entered the bank and taken four people as hostages. He made his demands of wanting a huge amount of cash and a car, but additionally, he had one more peculiar demand. He wanted to see Clark Olofsson. Tommy Lindstrom, who was looking into the case closely and had shared a unique relationship with Olofsson, was sent to bring him from the prison.

Jan-Erik Olsson was actually a fan of Clark, and both had met in prison before, while serving a sentence. Olsson wanted to become a celebrity criminal just like Clark, and wanted to learn the tricks of carrying out a perfect heist. Olsson had tried to plan an escape for Clark, but he failed to do so. So he told Clark Olofsson that one day he would help him break the shackles of the prison. So Clark Olofsson was brought to the scene, and Tommy Lindstrom tried his best to put Olofsson on a leash so that he could listen to him and help them catch the robber inside the bank. But Clark Olofsson was a loose cannon. Everybody knew that he would ultimately do what he liked.

Clark went inside and made the hostages believe that they were the good guys and the police officials and the authorities were the bad and oppressive people. Kristin Ehnmark was a young hostage, and the series shows that Clark was attracted to her. There is no solid evidence that proves the fact right, but she did end up speaking to the then Prime Minister, Olof Palme, and told him how she considered the police to be a hostile force. She told the PM to agree to the demands of the robbers as she trusted them, and they didn’t mean any harm, and in fact, were noble human beings. So it proved that Clark did have a certain amount of influence on the hostages. 

This telephone call not only shocked the authorities, but the media blew it out of proportion. For years, whether Kristin and other hostages actually believed that Clark Olofsson and Erik Olsson were actually noblemen, or whether they were doing so just so the robbers would not threaten their lives, has been a matter of debate. But experts have inclined towards the fact that Olofsson actually made the hostages believe in his flawed theory, and told them that they were the revolutionaries who were helping to bring down the oppressive capitalist setup. It was bizarre, but it actually happened. Clark Olofsson did come out of the bank, and every hostage survived. There was no damage done, because of which the media made Olofsson into a hero, a revolutionary who did something that the political authorities were not able to do. The series was right in showing that in reality, Olofsson didn’t care about anything. Given an option, he would have looted the bank (which he actually did end up doing, but secretly, in a manner that nobody came to know about) and escaped with Jan-Erik Olsson.

Did Olofsson Actually Trespass In The Prime Minister’s House? 

The series shows that Clark, together with his buddies, who had escaped from a juvenile facility, were rowing in a river when they sighted a beautiful-looking resort on the banks of the river, in Harpsund. Without knowing who the owner was, they entered the resort and went to the greenhouse, which was created in the backyard. They came to know that it belonged to the Swedish Prime Minister, Tage Erlander. Though it is a confirmed fact that an event like this did happen in Clark’s life, what is not corroborated is that Tage found them and pointed a gun at them, as shown in the series. In the dramatic set of events, the boys start running, and Clark tells the PM to remember his name, before jumping into the river and escaping the scene.

Some accounts say that the workers on the estate found the boys and drove them away. The intricacies of the event might differ in reality as compared to what was portrayed on the screen, but the essence has not been tampered with by Jonas Akerlund.

Did Gunnar Actually Kill The Police Officer? 

In the series, we see that Clark Olofsson was sick and tired of all the petty crimes and serving sentences for them. He tells his friend Gunnar Norgren that what he wanted was to commit a big heist and then be inactive for a while and enjoy the riches. So Clark lays down an elaborate plan for a heist in which he and Gunnar were going to take part. He tells Gunnar that they would have to buy tents and stay in the forest to avoid prosecution for a little while. While they were breaking in to steal the tent and other utilities from a shop in Nykoping, the capital of Sodermanland County in Sweden, Ragnar Sandahl and Lennart Mathiasson, the policemen, arrived at the scene. They entered into a heated argument, and Gunnar did kill Ragnar Sandahl in reality. Later, Gunnar confessed to the crime, and Clark Olofsson was found not guilty, though he was charged with theft and other petty accusations. The incident also provided a very valuable insight into the celebrity robber. Clark Olofsson never resorted to violence. He betrayed the trust of many, but never did he cause a physical injury to anyone, till later in his life, when he entered into a scuffle with a man and severely injured him, and served over 2 years of imprisonment for the same. But it was a one-off situation. The episodes of violence were quite scarce for a man who had such a volatile life. Maybe it was the childhood trauma that pulled him back every time he was instigated to hurt anybody.

Final words

Clark Olofsson did marry a girl named Marijke and had three children with her. It is told in the series that Clark escaped the prison 17 times in his life, but in reality, the actual number is not known, though it is a fact that the man was known for his motiveless prison breaks, sometimes even when he had only a few days left in his sentence. It could be said that he did it for the thrill of it.

Jonas Akerlund, together with Fredrik Agetoft and Peter Arrhenius, the co-writers, has taken a comical route and documented the life and times of a fascinating conundrum named Clark Oderth Olofsson. It is a mind-boggling ride, and it takes some time to digest the fact that such a man actually walked the surface of the earth, committed such grave offenses, and still, at a point in time, was seen as a national hero.

Clark Olofsson was once again accused of a crime in 2008 and put in prison. He got out in 2018 and went to Sweden, but the latest reports have suggested that the celebrity robber resides in Belgium. Clark was quoted as saying that he had no regret whatsoever in his life as he lived each moment like a king.

See More: ‘Clark’ Ending, Explained: What Led To The Inception Of Stockholm Syndrome? Is Clark Olofsson Dead Or Alive?

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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