I know I've written about the novel and reviewed that on here already, but I haven't really talked about the film.
Originally, I had found a way to download it and watch it (considering it wasn't available here) but being a 90% Swedish-language film, with bits in Russian, Spanish, French and English, I could only follow it based on my knowledge of the plot of the novel. That didn't always help considering the film, as every film has and will ever do, took various parts of the novel and changed or removed them.
Last week, I happened to mention it to a friend, who brought it up on Netflix. Since when did it become available there? Because I'd just had my Internet service changed, I felt no worry in watching the whole thing immediately. On my nice speakers. With the Mac hooked up to my TV, now in the basement.
Netflix helpfully had a version with English subtitles as well as Allan providing an English narration. With that, the film finally opened up fully for me.
I don't need to explain much of the plot considering I've already done the same with the novel. I will note that Alan doesn't cross the Himalayas, nor does it go into much detail of his arrival in places. The whole Tehran bit is removed as well (after all, he crossed the mountain range to end up there). But it does go into more visual detail on certain things only briefly mentioned in the novel. Like his father advocating the use of contraception ("this will end poverty!" etc.) The Never Again gang is changed somewhat, so that one of its members finds Allan and the gang at the farm does so because he's an ex-boyfriend of the Gunilla character and just wants a reason for seeing her again. Per-Gunnar Gerdin's name is changed to Gadden, and has an ankle monitor so he can't leave his apartment.
Allan's vacation in Bali is also removed, and changed so that its relation to the plot is entirely related to the Never Again gang. In the novel, the group's boss, "Pike" Gerdin, is awaiting the money from the Russians via Bolt, his courier, thanks to a drug deal with them. Bolt is the person Allan steals the suitcase with the money from, screwing everything up. In the film, it appears to be the other way around, with Gerdin - now Gadden - and Never Again owing money to an Australian man in Bali, perhaps for the same deal. This subplot comes and goes as the man gets more frantic and angry through cell phone calls, waiting for confirmation about the money. After the group rams Gerdin/Gadden on the road with the bus, he ends up with memory loss and apparent mental retardation, and when Allan asks for an idea of where the group should go next, "Bali" is the only thing that crosses Gadden's wounded head.
The Yuri Popov character is slightly altered as well, so that as Allan meets up with Yuri in Russia in the 60s, he has a son named Alec. Allan gives the boy his Vice-Presidential lighter (originally a gift from Truman) as a little gift. This Alec character grows up and maintains a close relationship with Allan, running am international courier business, and he's the one who spirits everyone, elephant and all, to Bali.
I think the film works out well. Visually, things looked pretty authentic from a historical point of view, and they got some good actors to play the notable leaders of the time. The story is told pretty well as well, and it appears a little more realistic than the crazy story the main characters come up with to the prosecutor at the end of the novel. It was a little funny in places as well - Allan's laissez-faire attitude regarding the recently-killed Bulten character (he was sat-on by the elephant) starkly contrast's the rest of the group's urgency and hysteria as they try to figure out how to get rid of the corpse. Allan's only concern is whether anyone wants to join him for a swim.
I'd probably rate the film a B+. No film can perfectly cover everything a novel could, but it's visually authentic, realistic, interesting, and kind of funny and absurd.
Then again, I don't need a translation for bird song. "[bird song]"