"Stellan Skarsgård gives an effortless performance. Most of the time
hes silent, while his character is simply striving to comprehend the insanity of the
situation while giving hope to the hopeless. From a pallid face, his tired, bruised eyes
calmly, slowly search the room for any intimation of substance or reality. Skarsgård
delivers a performance of tremendous, measured dignity with many unseen, conflicting
layers." ...Apollo Movie Guide
Kjell Grede has tried to make the idea flesh, and he's succeeded almost entirely. By
avoiding any urge to sentimentalize, and making the unformed, callow Wallenberg (Stellan
Skarsgård) such a mediocre character, he makes what Wallenberg did all the more
remarkable, because the man is so flawed." ...Newsday
"Stellan Skarsgård is the actor who plays Wallenberg, and he lends
Wallenberg a suitable air of authority and confidence that would have been appropriate for
the man. Skarsgård also displays the occasional dose of humanity, as he breaks down and
weeps after a Jewish couple is murdered against his direct protestations."
"Remarkable and unsparing." ...Philadelphia Inquirer
"Powerfully acted and unsparingly detailed in its view of the barbarity."
...Long Beach Press-Telegram
"A deeply moving film with message that tells of life and death race against time
and the importance of humanity in the face of barbarism." ...Luebeck
Stellan Skarsgård has become a star in American movies, speaking unaccented English,
so it's interesting and rewarding to watch him work in his native Swedish. Good
Evening, Mr. Wallenberg features Skarsgård playing a thoroughly, unimpeachably
heroic role, a rarity for him. Even his good guys usually are flawed."
is merely perfect." ...NY Post
"Stellan Skarsgård stars in this
riveting 1990 drama about a figure every bit as heroic and noteworthy as Spielberg's
Schindler. In this instance it was Swedish businessman Raoul Wallenberg, whose tireless
efforts saved countless Hungarian Jews from the murderous clutches of Adolph Eichmann.
Unlike Schindler's List, Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg is solidly
European in its sensibilities -- there is no sentiment, no gloss, no redemptive glaze to
the picture." ...Boxoffice.com
From the Press Book at the 1991 Berlin International Film Festival:
THE SWEDISH PIMPERNEL
"Are you an idealist" asks the skeptical Stockholm rabbi.
"No," replies Raoul Wallenberg. Yet the soft-living Swedish businessman has
decided, at the risk of is own life, go to Budapest and rescue Jewish victims of the
"Are you Wallenberg?" asks the little Jewish boy trapped in
a Budapest house. "Yes," comes the quiet answer. Satisfied, the child lays his
head on Wallenberg's chest and goes to sleep.
In the last phase of the war, the name of Wallenberg became a byword
for salvation among the Jews of Budapest. Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg focuses on
events in Budapest in January 1945: the Red Army is advancing victoriously, the German
Special Commandos and the Nyilas, the Hungarian fascists, use the occasion of a brief
visit by the Nazi butcher Eichmann to indulge in indiscriminate massacres, and Wallenberg
is trying desperately to save the 65,000 Jews imprisoned in the ghetto. In the six months
since has been in Budapest, he has managed to help hundreds of Jews to flee by securing
Swedish passports for them, and is now sheltering many others in the Swedish embassy.
Based on historical accounts, Kjell Grede's film portrays an ordinary
man motivated by pity who, in the course of his "Scarlet Pimpernel" mission
witnesses such horror and wanton brutality that he develops an almost superhuman
determination and fearlessness.
Wallenberg is self-sacrificing without being a martyr, heroic without
the attitudes of a hero. When the Germans reject his pleas, he grabs Jews from under their
noses; when the Swedish ambassador orders him home, he resolves to stay. Face to face he
confronts the bloodthirsty Hungarian fascist Moser who is threatening to murder a group of
20 Jews stranded in a broken down truck. And tenderly, almost lovingly, he looks after the
half-crazed Jewish woman Marja who stubbornly refuses to flee anymore.
As relentless as machine-gun fire, successive scenes - captured in somber light by Finnish
cameraman Esa Vuorinen - depict the humiliation of the Jews, their helpless desperation
and impossible hope. On a bomb site, a German officer conducts a bizarre auction of art
treasures seized from their Jewish owners. In the midst of this barbarism, Wallenberg
stands out as a redeemer of our belief in humanity.
During the liberation of Budapest, Wallenberg was captured by the Red
Army and taken to Moscow. He was never heard of again. Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg
does not speculate on his fate. Grede is content to let his film rest as a memorial.