The Man on the Roof

The Man on the Roof
Man on the roof cover.jpg
Swedish DVD cover
Swedish Mannen på taket
Directed by Bo Widerberg
Produced by Per Berglund
Screenplay by Bo Widerberg
Based on The Abominable Man
by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
Starring Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt
Sven Wollter
Thomas Hellberg
Håkan Serner
Music by Björn J:son Lindh
Cinematography Odd Geir Sæther
Edited by Sylvia Ingemarsson
Bo Widerberg
SF Studios, Swedish Film Institute, Bo Widerberg Film AB
Distributed by SF Studios, Swedish Film Institute
Release date
  • October 1, 1976 (1976-10-01) (Sweden)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Sweden
Language Swedish
Budget 4 million SEK
Box office 11.5 million SEK

The Man on the Roof (Swedish: Mannen på taket) is a 1976 Swedish police procedural-thriller film directed by Bo Widerberg. It is based on the 1971 novel The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The film stars Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt, Sven Wollter, Thomas Hellberg and Håkan Serner.

The plot follows a police officer Martin Beck and his colleagues trying to solve the murder of a senior policeman, known for his brutality against inferiors and suspects. While the investigation is ongoing, a man armed with two assault rifles, a sniper scope and a bag of ammunition equipment ascends a tall roof in central Stockholm, near Odenplan. The themes of the film, carried on from the novel, concern police brutality, morale and internal culture, pennalism, the mechanics of violent crime, brutalization and abuse from authorities, and the legitimacy of force, most crucially the monopoly on violence as exercised by the Swedish Police Authority at the time.

Widerberg's direction was inspired by the 1971 American film The French Connection, and Widerberg would make one more crime film in 1984: The Man from Majorca.

The film won two Guldbagge Awards in 1977, for Best Film and Best Actor (Håkan Serner).[1]


A policeman (Stig Nyman) who is a patient at a hospital in Stockholm is brutally murdered, bludgeoned and eviscerated with a bayonet. The investigation that follows is led by Martin Beck and Einar Rönn. It turns out that the murdered man had sadistic tendencies and was known among his colleagues for abusing his police privileges and brutalizing civilians. Although his colleagues had been aware of his behaviour, the police force's esprit de corps had suppressed complaints about him and prevented any reprisals.

The investigation proceeds, and finally Beck and his team find a trail that leads to the murderer, who turns out to be an ex-policeman named Eriksson. Eriksson's wife Marja had diabetes, and one day, in need of insulin, she had fallen into a coma. She was mistaken by the police as a drunk and put in a jail cell, under the orders of Nyman, where she died. Eriksson blamed the police force for the death of his wife. Now, some years later, he has become a social misfit and the authorities are in the process of removing his daughter Malin from his custody.

As Beck and his team close in on Eriksson he climbs up on the roof of the apartment building where he lives in central Stockholm, bringing with him both an automatic rifle and a sharpshooter's rifle. He starts to fire at any policeman and police vehicle he can spot, picking off several policemen. When the police commissioner decides to bring in the anti-terrorist units, including two police helicopters, Eriksson shoots up one of the helicopters such that it crashes on a crowded plaza near the building where he resides. Beck tries an individual initiative, climbing to the roof on a flimsy external ladder, but is shot in the chest, left severely injured and bleeding on a ledge leading to the roof. Driven to the breaking point, two other members of Beck's team along with one of Nyman's disgruntled colleagues, Hult, and a civilian volunteer living in the building use explosives to gain access to the roof. Eriksson is shot in the shoulder and hit unconscious. Beck is saved and the film ends as Beck's colleague stop Hult from harming the perpetrator further and prepare to carry him down, ending with a close-up on the face, seemingly at peace.



The actor Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt was picked for the part as the policeman Beck after Wideberg had seen him with a serious face in a talk show not knowing he was on air. Previously, Lindstedt was mostly known for roles in comedy films.

Filming took place between 11 December 1975 and 30 April 1976, using a budget of 3.9 million SEK.[2] Bo Widerberg didn't like the fake theater blood so pigs blood was used.


The critics were very positive and especially praised the dialogue. Around 750,000 people attended the film in Sweden, making it the most successful film produced by the Swedish Film Institute until Fanny and Alexander was released in 1982.[2] The film was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 50th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[3]


  1. ^ "Mannen på taket (1976)". Swedish Film Institute. 7 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Mannen på taket - Press reaction and comment (in Swedish). Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved on 2009-07-21.
  3. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Release the Prisoners to Spring
Guldbagge Awards for Best Film
Succeeded by
The Adventures of Picasso
Preceded by
City of My Dreams
Guldbagge Awards for Swedish submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Succeeded by
A Respectable Life