Your Iceland Noir DVD Shopping List

The seven DVDs you must have in your collection.

Trapped was a game-changer. It alerted Nordic Noir fans that some of the most exhilarating TV being produced today hailed from the land of fire and ice. Far from being a one-off, Walter Presents’ forthcoming series Case demonstrates Icelandic is experiencing a creative purple patch. One of the most significant European shows to air in the UK since the initial explosion of interest in all things Nordic, Case is a masterclass in thrilling TV which will get under your skin.

Icelandic production company Sagafilm has recently made Out of Thin Air for Netflix and BBC. Described as Iceland’s Making a Murderer, the documentary is a taut and compelling examination of the nation’s most notorious murder investigation.

Whether Trapped has whetted your appetite for more dark and intense thrillers or you want to discover more classic series before watching Case and Out of Thin Air, here is a selection of DVDs that you’ll want to watch again and again…

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Jar City

Credited with being ushering a new wave of cinematic Icelandic Noirs, Baltasar Kormákur’s adaptation of Arnaldur Indridason’s novel is the nation’s most successful Icelandic crime film at the box office. An energetic novel filled with dense plotting, vivid descriptions, and psychological realism was transformed into an atmospheric and darkly humorous thriller, Far more than just the film with the hero eating a boiled sheep’s head, Jar City is an intricate and haunting mystery.

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Black Angels

Tightly directed adaptation of Ævar Orn Josepsson’s novels. A team of four detectives is investigating an apparent suicide. Researching the deceased’s background the investigators uncover evidence which suggests that he may have been murdered. Presenting a portrait of an increasingly fractured Icelandic society being contaminated by the influence of international criminal organisations, this series has much to recommend. Some impressive stuntwork also marks it out as a DVD well worth tracking down.

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I Hunt Men

Trapped‘s Ólafur Darri Ólafsson plays a dishevelled detective partnered with a by-the-book officer. In the Westfjords of Iceland, a serial killer is targeting goose hunters. Adapted from Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson’s Daybreak, I Hunt Men is a cinematic thriller that showcases the beauty of Iceland’s natural scenery. Packed with twist-and-turns, it grips right up to the unexpected conclusion.

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The Court

Icelandic TV’s first legal drama is a socially charged series that deftly vacillates between moments of intensity and quirky humour. Screenwriters Sigurjón Kjartansson (Trapped), Margrét Örnólfsdóttir, and Kristinn Thordarson intelligently play with expectations throughout the series. Balancing a judicious mix of plot and character driven moments, the writers have delivered an intriguing Nordic Noir filled with insights into the Icelandic legal system’s workings. Even-handed in it’s treatment of the judiciary, The Court focuses on crime’s emotional impact on victims and their families. See this before watching Walter Presents exemplary Case.

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The Cliff

Prequel to Netflix’s The Lava Field. A Reykjavik detective is dispatched to assist the investigation into the death of a construction worker in a remote small town. Tapping into fears about hidden people interfering with building projects, this series plays out like an episode of The X-Files shot by John Ford.

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The Press

A high-profile tabloid newspaper provides the backdrop for a snappily paced series that highlights the dangers journalists face when they expose criminality. Compelling and cautionary, the series takes a realistic approach as it takes the viewer on a frenzied whistle-stop tour of Reykjavik’s criminal underbelly and back to an ego-filled newsroom. Bjarne Henriksen (The Killing, Borgen, and Trapped) delivers a bed-wettingly terrifying performance as the second season’s villain.

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The Night Shift

Icelandic TV’s crown jewel. Filled with pathos, this comedy of three misfits working the late shift in a petrol station is a perfect realisation of crushed dreams and lost souls. Making history as the first Icelandic series to be screened by BBC Four, it introduced British viewers to the man who would one day become Mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr. Two sequel series and a feature film continued the story of the shift workers. Perfectly cast, The Night Shift is peerless. Ranks alongside Hancock’s Half Hour, Fawlty Towers, and Father Ted as one of European TV’s all-time great comedies.

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