The current state of British crime drama or, how I learned to stop worrying and love Scandinavia.

Cineburbs

‘There’s something of the Scandi shows about The Fall…Celtic noir? Move over Denmark, Belfast is the new Copenhagen? Could be’ (guardian, 2013). Sam Wollaston’s interpretation of BBC Two’s latest crime series The Fall got me thinking about the rise of crime series in the UK, particularly those that appear to be styled in the vein of Scandinavian crime drama. However, is this the only reason that viewer’s tuned into this new drama?

There seems to be a pattern emerging whereby critics are labelling every new crime drama as the new Forbrydelsen, Wallander or The Bridge. On the other hand, these new British crime series are also seen to fill the void left by these Scandinavia imports. For example – and even I am guilty of this (for promotional purposes of course!) – ITV’s Broadchurch brought up many comparisons with Forbrydelsen and in several articles it was revealed…

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Why is Birgitte Nyborg in politics?

Cafe thinking

Last night in the pub, I overheard a conversation about Borgen. (Yes, honestly!) Roughly paraphrased, it went thus: why can’t there be more lovely people like Birgitte Nyborg running the country? It struck a note that I’ve been considering as I play with my own Borgen magnum opus.

For much of the first two series, Birgitte tries hard to do what she thinks is right. She stands up for idealism (when she isn’t suggesting to her husband that they lead a double life). She doesn’t mind changing her mind when presented with new evidence (and when outmanoeuvred by Lars Hesselboe). She likes loyalty (as long as she doesn’t have to spend political capital on it). She likes to inspire her nation and remind it that it’s better than it thinks it is. She doesn’t like underhand methods (except when she’s trying to blackmail people).

I’ve been a bit unkind…

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Blu-ray review: George A Romero’s Knightriders

Making its world wide debut on Blu-ray is the George Romero directed cult classic Knightriders. This restored release courtesy of Arrow Films not only affords the opportunity to view the film with an image that has greater depth and a broader colour palate than at any time since the theatrical release but after decades of truncated versions being screened on TV we can now see the movie as the director originally intended.

Filmed in 1980 and released in 1981, appreciation of Knightriders has over the years been tempered by some erroneous critical commentary which either misplaced the film’s position within Romero’s body of work or was based upon one of the heavily edited TV screenings that removed many subplots and made the narrative incomprehensible.

This very welcome issue of the uncut print is accompanied by a wealth of high quality bonus content which sweeps away much of the misconceptions about the film’s production that have circulated over the years and enables it to be appreciated, for possibly the first time, as one of Romero’s finest, if atypical, films. In addition to an attractively designed booklet containing a well written essay by film critic Brad Stevens and an archive interview with George Romero, Arrow Films’ restored release of Knightriders is enhanced by the inclusion of several audio commentaries, including one from Romero, and three featurettes which makes this an essential purchase for fans of Romero’s movies and cult media enthusiasts.

After satirizing consumerism in Dawn of the Dead Romero turned his attention to Renaissance fairs and examined the inherent contradictions in staging a public performance of mythologised versions of European historical events as a carnival spectacle. Having attended several Renaissance fairs over the last decade I can attest that it’s an experience that leaves one with an overwhelming sense of discontinuity for not only are such events celebrating fundamentally corrupt political regimes built upon ideological belief systems that are diametrically opposed to those which America’s founding fathers intended for the country but the revisionism perpetuates a false narrative of a time when societies were supposedly free of excessive materialism and operated within a barter economy under the watchful eye of a benevolent ruler. The levels of historical accuracy in these events varies but all too often they owe far more to Errol Flynn and Disney than David Starkey.

With Knightriders Romero focuses on a band of revivalists who are retreating from distasteful commercial exploitation and desire to return to what they consider to be a more just form of society, one in which an individual may become King should he defeat the present ruler in tournament. It’s relatively poor performance at the box office might be due to the audience rejecting Romero’s attempts at moving away from the horror genre but oddly the film’s out of synch quality makes it feel more relevant today than it did back in 1981.

In his first starring role Ed Harris plays a self styled “King William” who leads a troupe of jousters, lives by Arthurian ideals, and self flagellates whilst bathing in ice cold lakes. William regards the staging of jousting tournaments as a personal crusade against eroding moral values in an age that was being transformed, for good or ill, by Reaganomics. He refuses to pay off corrupt police officials despite knowing as a consequence that he will suffer some form of retribution from the local sheriff’s department but would rather risk the permit to perform being revoked than have his moral compass be tainted by making illegal payments. His single mindedness puts him at odds with his nearest competitor for the crown, Morgan (Tom Savini), and places the very future of this motorcycle version of Camelot at risk. William’s scorn for the debasement of modern sporting tournaments is exemplified in his distaste for the popularity of Evel Knievel and steadfast refusal to follow a similar path to fame and glory.

An added bonus to horror fans is a cameo appearance by Spehen King.

Film restoration is a subjective art not a precise science and as reaction to the European Blu-ray release of The French Connection proves fans will voice their condemnation if they feel dissatisfied with any digital corrections. That is not the case in this instance and Arrow Film’s work on Knightriders should please all die-hard Romero fans as this disc deserves to be ranked alongside the UK release of Citizen Kane and MGM’s James Bond reissues as being examples of the finest releases of back catalogue titles on Blu-ray.

The deluxe edition Blu-ray/DVD combi release of Knightriders contains the following extra features;

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations.
– Uncompressed original Mono 2.0 PCM audio.
– Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
– Audio commentary with George RomeroTom SaviniJohn Amplas and Christine Romero.
– ‘The Genesis of a Legend’ – Star Ed Harris remembers his first leading role.
– ‘A Date with Destiny’ – Co-star Tom Savini reflects on the film.
– ‘Medieval Maiden’ – Interview with actress Patricia Tallman.
– Theatrical Trailer.
– TV Spots.
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nat Marsh.
– Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by author and critic Brad Stevens, an archival interview with Romero, and a new interview with composer Donald Rubinstein, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

Knightriders is available to order from Amazon;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00B5C5FNE/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d1_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1WJX7R0ZP2HFW1T39B59&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=358549767&pf_rd_i=468294

The trailer for Knightriders can be found here;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rz9OdHOn0hc#!

Kierkegaard, the Uncanny and Nordic Noir

Nordic Noir: The Scandinavian Crime Book Club

Staaende_figurer_på_Langebro_lys

Unsettling Copenhagen in Philosophical writing and contemporary drama

5 May 2013 marks the bicentenary of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s birth. The aim of this symposium is to explore Kierkegaard’s writing on Copenhagen in relation to the theme of the uncanny. This will be done by superimposing the Copenhagen found in Kierkegaard’s writings with a contemporary and notoriously unsettling representation of this city: the TV-drama The Killing.

Join the PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM on 17 May, 2013, 10-5 PM. UCL, Pearson Building (North East Entrance) G22 LT (map)

The event is free but please register your participation here as seats are limited. For further information and the programme visit the website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/scandinavian-studies/kierkegaard.

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Nordicana

The UKs first ever expo celebrating Scandinavian crime & thriller fiction & film

A quick glance at the best-seller lists for novels and DVD box sets and it is obvious that Scandinavian crime fiction and drama have become a cultural phenomenon here in the UK.
Kick-started by the novel ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and the subsequent films, Scandinavian crime drama, or ‘Nordic Noir’ has gone from strength to strength with the screen adaptations of Henning Mankell’s Wallander followed by the original Danish police procedural drama The Killing which won over the hearts and minds of the UK media and public making Sarah Lund (and that jumper) a household name.
The UK’s love affair with these compelling and atmospheric dramas from our Northern European cousins shows no sign of abating, demonstrated by the success of BBC4′s most recent acquisition ‘Arne Dahl’ and the fervent anticipation for the third series of Borgen.
Nordicana is a unique event, which will bring fans of Nordic Noir together for a 2-day celebration of Scandinavian crime & thriller fiction and film, in association with Arrow Films the leading UK distributor of Nordic Noir on DVD, and the global literary network English Pen.
Nordicana will play host to the stars of the hugely popular BBC Four TV series’ and best-selling authors with panel discussions, signings, exclusive screenings, talks, retail stands, books, DVD and  Blu-ray, food and drink and much more. The venue for this unique event will be the landmark Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell.

15th – 16th June 2013

The Farmiloe Building – 34-35 St. John Street, London, EC1

SPEAKER EVENTS

SATURDAY – NORDICANA MAIN SCREEN/STAGE 1
12.30 * DAVID HEWSON ‘DECONSTRUCTING THE KILLING’ ILLUSTRATED TALK

David_Hewson
In this masterclass, the bestselling crime author David Hewson offers a practical guide on how he deconstructed 20 hours of television into one novel – the highly acclaimed ‘The Killing’.

14.00 * ARNE DAHL SCREENING – AUTHOR & CAST Q&A

Arne_Dahl
The Season 1 finale (90 mins) followed by on-stage Q&A hosted by Barry Forshaw (60 mins approx) with Author Arne Dahl and Malin Arvidsson (Kerstin Holm), Shanti Roney (Paul Hjelm), Matias Varela (Jorge Chavez), Claes Ljungmark (Viggo Norlander).
Additional ticket price: £5.00.
SATURDAY – NORDICANA MAIN SCREEN/STAGE 2
14.00 * ANN CLEEVES PRESENTS ‘SHETLAND’ PLUS Q&A

Ann_Cleeves
The award-winning crime novelist, Ann Cleeves, presents an exclusive insight in to the Shetland series of novels featuring Detective Jimmy Perez (played by Douglas Henshall in the BBC adaptation).
SUNDAY – NORDICANA MAIN SCREEN/STAGE 1
11.45 * – BORGEN SCREENING – ENGLISH PEN and the FREE WORD CENTRE presents ‘Dramatising Politics’ panel discussion

Adam_Price
An exclusive screening of the opening episode of Series 3 (60 mins) followed by on-stage panel discussion with Adam Price (creator and main writer of Borgen), Jeppe Gjervig Gram (writer, Borgen) Ingolf Gabold (former head of tv-drama, DR, and the man who made Danish TV drama a success), Jesper W. Nielsen (director, Borgen), Lone Theils (London correspondent of Politiken), Paula Milne (writer The Politician’s Husband, Channel 4), Kath Mattock (script editor, producer of BAFTA-winning ‘Murder’ with Birger Larsen, BBC 2).
Additional ticket price: £5.00 (all proceeds go to English Pen, registered charity – 1125160)
16.30 * ARNE DAHL SCREENING – CAST Q&A

Shanti_Roney
The Season 1 finale (90 mins) followed by on-stage Q&A hosted by Barry Forshaw (60 mins approx) with Author Arne Dahl and Malin Arvidsson (Kerstin Holm), Shanti Roney (Paul Hjelm), Matias Varela (Jorge Chavez), Claes Ljungmark (Viggo Norlander).
Additional ticket price: £5.00
* All times are subject to change

 

FILM SCREENINGS & EXCLUSIVE EPISODES – ALL DAY SATURDAY & SUNDAY

MAIN EVENT SCREEN/STAGE 1 & 2 and THE NORDICANA CINEMA
KON TIKI, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, AFTERMATH, ACCUSED, EXIT, KLOWN, A HIJACKING, NORTHWEST, FALSE TRAIL, THE HUNTERS plus NORDICANA KIDS CINEMA
[Titles are subject to change]

REAL HUMANS, BORGEN, WALLANDER, ANNO 1790, THE LEGACY
[Titles are subject to change]

 

ALL-DAY FREE CINEMA SCREENINGS

SATURDAY & SUNDAY – THE NORDICANA CINEMA
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, AFTERMATH, ACCUSED, EXIT, KLOWN, A HIJACKING, NORTHWEST, FALSE TRAIL, THE HUNTERS plus NORDICANA KIDS CINEMA
[Titles are subject to change]

 

SIGNINGS

NORDICANA BOOK STORE/NORDIC NOIR DVD STORE
SATURDAY 15TH – David Hewson, Ann Cleeves, Arne Dahl, Malin Arvidsson, Shanti Roney, Matias Varela, Claes Ljungmark, Barry Forshaw
SUNDAY 16TH – David Hewson, Malin Arvidsson, Shanti Roney, Matias Varela, Claes Ljungmark, Adam Price, Barry Forshaw

 

FOOD & DRINK SERVED ALL DAY

SCANDIKITCHEN
scankitch

THE BRISKA CIDER BAR
briska

THE REYKA VODKA BAR
reyka

PLUS EXCLUSIVE FOOD EVENTS IN THE NORDICANA RESTAURANT
Timings, menus and prices – tbc

NORDICANA MARKET PLACE

SCANDINAVIAN DESIGNS, PRODUCTS AND INFORMATION, NORDICANA MERCHANDISE, EXCLUSIVE DVD AND BOOK OFFERS

NORDICANA KIDS MARQUEE

KIDS ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT THE BOTH DAYS
 

Information: http://nordicnoir.tv/nordicana, www.facebook/nordicana
Follow us @NordicanaUK

Tickets: http://nordicana2013.eventbrite.co.uk/