Yes, there is a true story behind A Man Called Otto

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You can always discover something interesting if you deepen the story behind a movie or a book, especially when it comes to tales that can make you cry. It’s what we tell every day on these pages, after all, and this movie makes no difference: A Man Called Otto is a 2022 film directed by Marc Forster, based on the novel A Man Called Ove written by the Swedish author Fredrik Backman in 2012. And although it’s a book that inspired the movie, there is a lovely true story behind it. Let’s find out.

You can watch the official trailer for A Man Called Otto here on Youtube.

The true story behind A Man Called Otto

In A Man Called Otto, we watch the protagonist Otto Anderson in his old age. His wife died a few months before, he recently stopped working, and his life suddenly feels meaningless. He plans to kill himself, but one event after another, he realizes there is still a few purposes he can follow. His neighbors settling in their new home, his old friends forced to leave their house, and a young boy getting closer to him will make him feel he still has “things to do.”

The movie is based on the book A Man Called Ove, published in 2012, and although the story in the novel is fictional, there is a true story that inspired Fredrik Backman before writing. Everything started a few years before: Backman was working as a freelancer for the Swedish magazine Cafe, and one of his colleagues wrote a blog post about an unknown man named Ove. This colleague saw him while buying a ticket in a museum, and he had an anger outburst in front of everybody. The wife had to mediate between him and the museum employee, but the situation impressed the colleague so much that he wrote about it.

When Backman’s wife read that post, she commented: “This is what life is like with you!” This gave the writer the idea to develop a set of short stories about the fictional character of Ove, partly inspired by the man at the museum but mostly absorbing his own personality traits. Post after post, Fredrik Backman realized he was giving birth to an authentic character that could result in an entire book. “There’s a lot of me in him,” he admitted in this interview with the New York Times. “When we get angry, it’s about a principle, and we get angry because people don’t understand why we’re angry.” As you remember, the movie A Man Called Otto starts off with a similar outburst the protagonist has at the bricolage shop.

It wasn’t easy for Fredrik Backman to get his book published. Many publishing houses rejected his script, seeing no commercial potential. It was later accepted by Bokförlaget Forum: the book sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the most successful Swedish books of all time. In 2015 there was already a Swedish movie adaptation, A Man Called Ove, which was even nominated for the Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film. The 2022 movie with Tom Hanks is the second successful movie based on that book.

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