Sista Kontraktet

(The Last Contract)

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette - The Making Of... (25:08)
Rating ma.gif (1236 bytes)
Year Released 1998
Running Time 109:15 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (62:06)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Kjell Sundvall
Filmlance Internat 
Force Video
Starring Mikael Persbrandt
Michael Kitchen
Pernilla August
Reine Brynolfsson
Bjørn Floberg
Jacqueline Ramel
Case Black Amaray
RPI $32.95 Music Geir Bøhren
Bent Åserud
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Automatic Pan & Scan Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 224 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Last Contract is a film based around the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, which took place on February 28, 1986, in Stockholm. To this day, the assassin has not been found, and this work of historical fiction by Kjell Sundvall basically tells how this event might have happened without pointing any fingers.

    Roger Nyman (Mikael Persbrandt) has just been promoted to a nice position with the Swedish secret police, and uncovers information which leads him to believe that assassin John Gales (Michael Kitchen), alias Ray Lambert, is in the country, and that said assassin's current target is the Prime Minister. When he brings his suspicions to his superiors, however, he is met with a distinct lack of support from everyone bar his best friend, Bo Ekman (Reine Brynolfsson). The rest of the film concerns itself with the question of whether Roger is simply not being believed or whether there are more sinister forces working against him.

    One of the more interesting elements of this film is how Roger explains his daily activities to such people as his wife, Nina (Pernilla August), without revealing that he is a member of the secret police. Another interesting factor is the portrayal of political extremism within Sweden, as John meets a few characters, fascists and nationalists being the most heavily represented, who would like to see the peace-oriented Prime Minister removed from power. A small portion of this film consists of stock footage which depicts Olof Palme giving speeches to the United Nations, as well as demonstrations by skinheads and other such unpleasant elements. In contrast to other movies that use stock footage to fill narrative gaps, this technique is surprisingly effective here.

    To spend any more time dissecting the plot or its impact upon me would be futile because I only speak enough Swedish to scream "kill everyone", and that's when I'm reading from the lyrics sheet of a particularly funny album I have on compact disc. It is worth noting the presence of Pernilla August, whose recent appearance in a special effects extravaganza by the name of The Phantom Menace should answer any questions as to why Force Video have bothered to transfer this film to DVD. They seem to have missed the boat by about eighteen months, since the Star Wars publicity vehicle will not be in full swing again until the theatrical trailer for whatever the next episode is called hits the Internet. In spite of this, if you have a taste for Swedish cinema, and the Internet Movie Database users who have commented on this film cite this as a good example, then you will find The Last Contract worth checking out.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced, as well as encoded with automatic Pan and Scan information.

    The image is consistently sharp for the first sixty minutes, looking as if it were sourced properly from an interpositive rather than a recycled Very Hazy System master. Then, at about the sixty-two minute mark, things start to go a tad awry. The shadow detail is very good, slightly less than what I'd expect from a two-year-old film, but certainly not a disappointment in any other respect. There is no low-level noise to spoil any of the shades of black in the image at any time.

    The colour saturation of this transfer is somewhat subdued, as you would expect from a film that is mainly set in government offices and the homes of nomadic political extremists, to name the two examples that immediately come to mind. There are no instances of bleeding, misregistration, or cross-colouration.

    MPEG artefacts are a real problem for this transfer, with a motion compensation effect manifesting itself as a ghostly outline of irregular pixels where an actor's head used to be at 22:31. Other MPEG artefacts include a severe glitch that manifests as image breakup at 61:30, and numerous examples of pixellated rippling in the picture at numerous points thereafter. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a great deal of aliasing at 3:28, 6:17, 6:22, 9:05, 10:34, 15:21, 16:46, and 19:15, just to name the moderate examples I found in the first twenty minutes before I decided to give up and focus on the more serious instances. Among the more serious instances of aliasing that I found were shots at 10:38, 21:19, and 29:35. The last of these shots is particularly distracting, as it is a panning shot of a tennis court, which shimmers uncontrollably as the camera moves. Film artefacts were relatively minor, consisting of a handful of white marks on the picture.

    There are no subtitles on this disc other than English translations from the Swedish portion of the dialogue, which appear to lose a little in the translation.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 10 and 11, at 62:06. This is right in the middle of a musical cue, so it isn't the most carefully hidden layer change you will find.


    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original Swedish/English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0, with a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second. Some will lament the lack of a wholly English dub, but the presence of subtitles during the Swedish dialogue will compensate for this in the eyes of purists.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, as much as anyone who doesn't speak Swedish can expect, anyway. I suspect that people who do speak Swedish will have a slight problem with the occasional fits of shouting that occur in some sequences, but this is only because I found it slightly off-putting. There were no discernible problems with audio sync.

    The score music is credited to Geir Bøhren and Bent Åserud, but it sounds more like it is recycled from one of those stuffy old British detective shows than anything else. There is little to distinguish this score music from a million other pieces of score music that appear in European films, or any other film in which an important political figure is assassinated.

    The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack, which is a pity except for the fact that the film is almost entirely dialogue-based. The subwoofer was occasionally present to support various explosive sounds, but it was not specifically called upon by the soundtrack, and spent the rest of the film giving out a vague hum.



    The menu is themed around the film and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The main menu is animated. All of the menus are accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - The Making Of Sista Kontraktet

    This featurette is presented Full Frame with footage from the film in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. The audio is presented in Swedish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I've seen more interesting featurettes than this, and I've seen a lot worse, too.

R4 vs R1

    This film appears to be unavailable in Region 1.


    The Last Contract is a fine film that I would prefer over any American film on the subject of political assassinations.

    The video quality looks promising for the first sixty minutes (save for a moderate aliasing problem), but goes badly awry during the last forty minutes.

    The audio quality is good for a stereo soundtrack.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
January 23, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer