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Dorothy Aldrin

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A director who started in comedy and then began to mix a darker style of humor with degrees of drama to great success, Tomas Alfredson would ultimately become known to international audiences for his later, more sombre work. After establishing himself in comedy, Alfredson gradually changed course via his association with Sweden's legendary, risk-taking comic group Killinggänget, which specialized in surreal and ironic humor. Dramatic content gradually came more to the forefront in Alfredson's projects and he became known to audiences outside Sweden for his distinctive and disturbing horror thriller, "Let the Right One In" (2008). Boasting a spare but mesmerizing visual design and atmosphere, and a central relationship that was both touching and disturbingly sinister in its implications, the film was unlike most vampire movies then to date and Alfredson was hailed for his approach to the material. With "Let the Right One In" and his equally lauded adaptation of John le Carré's Cold War espionage novel "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011), Alfredson demonstrated the power that can result from a quiet, subtle take on familiar subjects like vampires or spies, rarely approached in a way that evokes a...

A director who started in comedy and then began to mix a darker style of humor with degrees of drama to great success, Tomas Alfredson would ultimately become known to international audiences for his later, more sombre work. After establishing himself in comedy, Alfredson gradually changed course via his association with Sweden's legendary, risk-taking comic group Killinggänget, which specialized in surreal and ironic humor. Dramatic content gradually came more to the forefront in Alfredson's projects and he became known to audiences outside Sweden for his distinctive and disturbing horror thriller, "Let the Right One In" (2008). Boasting a spare but mesmerizing visual design and atmosphere, and a central relationship that was both touching and disturbingly sinister in its implications, the film was unlike most vampire movies then to date and Alfredson was hailed for his approach to the material. With "Let the Right One In" and his equally lauded adaptation of John le Carré's Cold War espionage novel "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011), Alfredson demonstrated the power that can result from a quiet, subtle take on familiar subjects like vampires or spies, rarely approached in a way that evokes a palpable degree of melancholia and apprehension in the viewer.

Tomas Alfredson was born on April 1, 1965 in Lidingö, Stockholms län, Sweden and was connected to the local entertainment industry from birth. The son of Hasse Alfredson, one-half of the hugely popular comedy team Hasseåtage (Hasse & Tage) who had begun on radio and moved into feature films, the boy helped out on his father's productions and had small roles in a handful of them, beginning with "Äppelkriget" ("The Apple War") (1971). Upon reaching his twenties, Alfredson started his professional career in the industry at the production and distribution company Svensk Filmindustri, where he was employed as an assistant. He would later direct music videos and labored behind the scenes in the establishment of a new Swedish public TV station called TV4.

Following the completion of various productions at TV4, Alfredson joined rival network Sveriges Television (SVT), where he directed ventures like the children's program "Ikas TV-kalas" ("Ikas TV Party") (SVT, 1990) and the rather raunchy "Bert" (SVT, 1994), based on a series of novels about a Swedish teenage boy coming of age. The success of that limited run program led to a feature film spin-off, "Bert - Den siste oskulden" ("Bert - The Last Virgin") (1995), which was Alfredson's first feature directing credit. As had been the case with his father (who also directed a number of pictures), Alfredson had now developed a reputation for being proficient with comedy and continued in this vein with other television productions like "Irma och Gerd" ("Irma and Gerd") (1997).

However, Alfredson's work was also now more commonly mixing a darker strain of humor with elements of drama and he became associated with the comedy troupe Killinggänget (The Kid-Goat Gang), which was celebrated for this sort of approach. Alfredson directed several productions featuring the group for SVT, beginning with a quartet of 60 minute features. The most noteworthy of these, the mockumentary "Torsk På Tallin - En Liten Film Om Ensamhet" ("Screwed in Tallin - A Little Film About Loneliness"), received a great deal of praise and some positive attention internationally, including the Silver Spire prize from the San Francisco International Film Festival. Running over three hours and consisting of four seemingly independent but ultimately connected stories, "Fyra nyanser av brunt" ("Four Shades of Brown") (2004) took Killinggänget's humor to even darker places. This production was given a theatrical release and won Best Director and three other major prizes at the Guldbagge (Golden Beatle) Awards, Sweden's equivalent to the Oscars. Another film by Alfredson in a similar vein, the black comedy "Kontorstid" ("Office Hours") (2003) revolved around the effects of workplace chaos and stress.

Although he now had a reputation in Sweden as a gifted director of comedies, Alfredson's international reputation would be made with his cinematic adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist 's horror novel, "Let the Right One In" (2008), which also possessed its own morbidly humorous streak. The story chronicled a badly bullied Swedish boy who strikes up a friendship with an equally young girl who shows him genuine compassion. However, he soon discovers that she is not human and subsists on blood. A vampire film with a subdued, uniquely unsettling mood and also an effective study of adolescent cruelty, "Let the Right One In" was released in over three dozen world markets to high praise, winning a number of awards like the main prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, and also did quite well on the American specialty film circuit. It was quickly remade in the U.S. by director Matt Reeves as simply "Let Me In" (2010) and like the title, that version simplified some aspects of Alfredson's version - not always to good effect. Alfredson turned down an offer to direct the film and was ultimately not involved in any aspect of "Let Me In," which garnered generally positive notices, but disappeared quickly from theaters.

In the wake of "Let the Right One In," Alfredson was offered a number of movie scripts in the slasher movie vein that did not interest him so he turned his attention to directing for the stage. However, he was intrigued the opportunity arose to helm a new version of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011). John le Carré's celebrated novel had previously been adapted in 1979 as a BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness that was regarded as exemplary of its type. Alfredson considered "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" to be more a study of camaraderie, allegiance, loneliness and paranoia than a conventional tale of spy vs. spy action and adventure, and that view shaped the way he approached the project. Alfredson's first English language feature was widely commended for its adept balancing of complex narrative and carefully generated mood of gloom and suspicion; it also received high marks for Gary Oldman's commanding performance in the daunting lead role of a character who internalizes all of his emotions.

By John Charles

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