Blu-ray review: Modus – Complete Season One

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Murder in a Winter Wonderland: A forensic psychologist and her daughter are drawn into the investigation of a series of murders.

Nordic Noir goes all festive with a Christmas thriller based on best-selling author and former Norwegian Minister of Justice Anne Holt’s novel Fear Not.

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Inger Johanne Vik (Melinda Kinnaman) has returned to Sweden after several years working for the FBI as a criminal profiler. Alongside her new career as a part-time university lecturer, she has published a book. Back in her homeland, she is determined to focus on her two daughters. Plans go awry when Inger attends her sister’s wedding reception.

A massive hit when it aired in Sweden, Modus was seen by 1.2 million people. Several other Anne Holt books have been optioned and a second season of Modus will start shooting in 2017. It’s Swedish broadcast coincided with Nordic Noir’s fiftieth anniversary. The series, and Anne Holt’s novel, follows in a long tradition of Scandinavian crime fiction highlighting the cracks in society.

Dark and dense, it explores the highly topical issues of hate crimes and radicalisation.

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The book was the fourth in Vik/Stubo series. Bringing it to screen the producers have shifted the action from Norway to Sweden. Changing location without weakening its cultural focus or softening its dramatic punch, Emmy award-winning screenwriters Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe zoned in on Anne Holt’s searing social commentary and crafted a series with international appeal. Already shattering records for ratings the series attempts to add to its list of achievements with an award for most characters in a Nordic drama. Boasting 52 speaking parts, more than any other Swedish series, it requires careful watching to get to know and keep up the seemingly constant stream of new faces.

A variation on the tried and tested amateur sleuth and police procedural formats, it occasionally plays out by-the-numbers. Nothing wrong with cliché in a genre but over-reliance on tried and tested routines and the audience will zone out. Pacing is uneven, the series loses momentum half-way through the run and only regains its stride in the final episode.

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Not top-drawer Scandi-drama but it does have thrilling moments. Occasionally playing out like a Nordic Noir greatest hits compilation it’s a stop gap until the next prestige series arrives.

The glue that binds Modus together and makes it watchable despite its faults, and dodgy American accents is some excellent performances. Esmeralda Struwe comes close to selling the series on her own with her convincing portrayal of an autistic teenager who has witnessed a murder and is unable to communicate what she has seen. Krister Henriksson demonstrates precisely why he is one of Sweden’s most in demand actors with a performance which constantly draws your attention. As the husband of a murdered bishop, he convincingly inhabits the character’s skin and is the centre of gravity for every scene he appears in.

Modus – Complete Season One is available on DVD and Blu-ray

DVD News: The Bridge – The Complete Season Three

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Arrow Films has announced the the critically acclaimed crime-drama series The Bridge The Complete Season Three will be released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday December 21st. The Bridge Trilogy Boxset will also be released on December 21st on DVD and Blu-ray.

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The series premièred on BBC Four on Saturday evening to a record audience of 1.2m viewers, continuing from the record breaking 3.2 million viewers that tuned in to the premiere episode in Sweden. The hit series stars Sofia Helin as the enigmatic, unorthodox Swedish detective Saga Noren.

Saga once again partners-up with a Danish officer, this time the equally troubled Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt), as they unravel a series spectacular murders.

The Bridge – The Complete Season Three will be released on DVD & Blu-ray through Arrow Films on Monday 21st December.

Arrow Films will also be releasing The Bridge Trilogy Boxset on DVD & Blu-ray for fans to enjoy the beloved series in its entirety, from Saga and Martin first meeting on the infamous bridge, to the gripping third season finale. The boxset release will coincide with the release of Season 3 on December 21st.

The Bridge – The Complete Season Three  is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Season-3-DVD/dp/B01535VC6W/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1448290893&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Season-3-Blu-Ray/dp/B01535VBN6/ref=tmm_blu_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448290893&sr=8-4

The Bridge Trilogy is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Trilogy-Blu-Ray-Sofia-Helin/dp/B01535VBA4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448290975&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bridge+trilogy

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Trilogy-DVD-Sofia-Helin/dp/B01535VBKY/ref=tmm_dvd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448290975&sr=8-1

Download your personal Bridge mini guide to Malmö here:

http://www.visitsweden.com/PageFiles/45269/VS_THEBRIDGETHREE_MINIGU

Bridge Over Nordic Water

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How a TV series is helping transform Malmö into a must visit destination: Sweden’s third largest city is the backdrop to a hit Scandi-crime series.

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Showing no signs off running out of steam the third season of Danish-Swedish crime series The Bridge has been a critical and ratings success throughout Scandinavia.

One of Scandinavian TV’s biggest exports, The Bridge has been screened in 174 countries. Interest in the series is at an all time high cementing the third season’s status as one of 2015’s most anticipated returning dramas.

Since The Bridge first aired on BBC Four Malmö has had an allure for fans of Nordic Noir eager to follow in the footsteps of Saga Norén and Martin Rhode. In tandem with the launch of the third season a series of events and activities have been organised that that will satisfy even the most ardent Saga Norén fans. 

Malmö Museer’s display of props, costumes, and set designs is a must visit destination for aficionados. Running until September 2016 the exhibition is entitled ‘A Non-Existent Malmö’. As the title reflects, The Bridge represents a Malmö that does not exist. The collection of exhibits invites visitors to consider what The Bridge’s success may say about contemporary Nordic society.

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Alongside Saga Norén’s costume and mustard coloured Porsche, the centrepiece of the exhibition is a concrete bunker which represents cracks in the welfare state. Visitors that peer through the fractured edifice will see props and costumes from all three seasons including amulets and animal masks from the second series.

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The exhibition also includes photographs, video clips, a map of Malmö locations featured in the series, and a large production bible which details the series creators’ key creative choices offering a revealing insight into the workings behind a hit TV series. Illuminating and engaging, the exhibition provides an exhaustive overview of The Bridge and its place in modern Scandinavian society.

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Fans eager to take the experience of being in Malmö to an entirely different level should book a place on the location tour.

Travelling around the city’s hotspots, its backstreets and deserted industrial plants, a guide reveals behind the scenes stories, explains how Malmö has been transformed in recent years, and offers insights into Swedish culture.

An on board DVD player screens clips enabling fans to compare locations with their appearance on screen.

The tour lets fans follow in the footsteps of on-screen detectives Saga Norén and Martin Rohde. Viewers will be surprised to discover that a doctor’s surgery doubles as the city’s police station in the series. Taking in Malmö locations featured prominently in the series the tour visits the exterior of Saga Norén’s apartment block and offers fans spectacular views of the Öresund Bridge. 

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Backdrop to three seasons of murder, intrigue, and international police co-operation, the Öresund Bridge is a symbol of cross-border harmony. Opened in 2000, the ten mile crossing has a deep meaning for Denmark and Sweden. Until 1658 Skåne County was part of Denmark and in the years between 1521 and 1814 the two nations went to war 27 times. An architectural triumph, the bridge represents close cultural and economic ties between countries that once waged war but have now found a lasting peace.

The Facts:

Fans making a pilgrimage to Sweden’s southern capital to inspect scenes of crimes featured in the series will experience a metropolis more vibrant than its small screen counterpart. A cosmopolitan city undergoing expansion and renewal, previously an industrial district Malmö is now at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in design. An international centre for innovation and culture, Malmö ranked fourth in Forbes 2013 list of the world’s most innovative cities. This future-facing metropolis is home to a diverse populace, the city’s residents speak 176 languages.

Easily accessible via Copenhagen Airport. The average rail journey time between airport terminal and Malmö Central is 20 minutes.

Further Information

Scandinavian Airlines offer direct flights to Copenhagen from London Heathrow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Manchester:

https://www.flysas.com/uk/flights/denmark/

For more information about Malmö:

http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/Regions–Cities/Malmo/

Find information about The Bridge exhibition at Malmö Museer and tickets for The Bridge Tour here:

http://www.malmotown.com/en/?s=bridge#thebridge

Download your personal Bridge mini guide to Malmö here:

http://www.visitsweden.com/PageFiles/45269/VS_THEBRIDGETHREE_MINIGUIDE_PR.pdf

The Öresund Bridge: Photo © Janus Langhorn /imagebank.sweden.se

DVD Review: Crimes of Passion

Arrow Films’ latest DVD Crimes of Passion release demonstrates Scandinavia has a long history of crime fiction. In the decades before Nordic Noir’s emergence writers put a distinctly Scandinavian spin on the detective story.

Sweden’s first “Queen of crime fiction”, Maria Lang (real name Dagmar Lange) is frequently compared to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Writing in an era before Larssen, Nekker, and Mennkell had popularised Nordic Noir her novels were part of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. A prolific author, she produced a novel a year between 1949 to 1990. Fondly remembered by many of the current crop of Swedish crime novelists, Camilla Läckberg has mentioned reading Lang’s books in her youth.

In Lang’s hands the traditional murder-mystery became less cosy and more adventurous. Daring, for the time, references to illicit relationships, and same sex partnerships set her work apart from anything being produced by her English counterparts.

Most of her novels are set in the fictional township Skoga, based loosely upon the author’s home town of Nora.

Adapted from Lang’s early novels, Crimes of Passion is a series of six feature films set in 1950s Sweden. The period is authentically recreated via meticulously researched clothing and hairstyles along with an impressive array of vintage motor vehicles.

Doctoral student Puck ( Tuva Novotny) is studying crime fiction. When we first meet her she is lecturing on Zola’s Thérèse Raquin. Invited to a midsummer party on a small island she embraces the opportunity to go somewhere without a telephone. Celebrations are cut short when Puck discovers that one of the guests has been strangled by a silk scarf. Every person who attended the party is a suspect. Teaming up with Eje (Linus Wahlgren) and Commissioner Wijk (Ola Rapace of Wallander and Skyfall) this intrepid trio sifts through the evidence, determined to stay alive and catch the killer.

From a remote island in Bergslagen through to a vicarage on Christmas Eve, this courageous threesome faces murder wherever they travel.

Reverent without being too referential, the programme is faithful to the books and era. The production team have left themselves with enough room to add some creative flourishes whilst honouring the source material. Sumptuously photographed, the cinematography is composed of rich colours. Karl & Pär Frid’s score echoes the sounds of a pre Rock and Roll era. A Saul Bass inspired title sequence pays homage to his work for Alfred Hitchcock and doffs a Fedora hat to Mad Men.

Deceptively familiar, the series mostly adheres to the established framework familiar to Miss Marple fans of a murder in an isolated community being investigated by an amateur sleuth albeit with the addition of sexual tension and greater emphasis on psychological realism. Acknowledging its influences for all to see, the first episode references Christie’s “And Then There Were None”.

Definitely old fashioned and yet, paradoxically, thoroughly modern. The opening episode wrong-foots viewers by following the Christie template until a revelation reminds viewers that they are firmly in Scandinavian crime fiction territory. A stylish production with superb performances from the series regulars. Eagle-eyed fans of Nordic Noir films and TV shows will spot actors from Arne Dahl, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, and Let the Right One In.

Six feature length films that will delight period drama and whodunnit aficionados.

Crimes of Passion can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crimes-Passion-DVD-Ola-Rapace/dp/B00MPRQHI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412707025&sr=8-1&keywords=crimes+of+passion

DVD Review: The Bridge – The Complete Season Two

With The Killing and Borgen now consigned to the immortality of DVD boxsets naysayers might have been tempted to inaccurately predict that the Scandinavian TV phenomenon had peaked. From Stieg Larsson through to the closing moments of our window in Birgitte Nyborg’s personal life and political career, Danish and Swedish culture has been covertly invading our high streets and TV screens. Retail outlets now routinely stock Faroese inspired sweaters to customers who may be unaware of their precise cultural significance and the relatively recent television series Broadchurch has demonstrated that creative professionals are studiously paying attention to how their Nordic counterparts craft quality popular drama.

High turnout to the recent Nordicana event and consistently impressive viewing figures for The Bridge‘s second season is testament that interest in all things Danish and Swedish remains buoyant. Fans will take additional comfort in the knowledge that not only is BBC Four committed to maintaining its now traditional Saturday foreign language slot throughout 2014, it will soon be complemented by programming from More4 and Sky Arts who have purchased the promising Mammon and The Legacy.

Once TV schedules were a barren wasteland, devoid of interesting programming from Europe, now the broadcast landscape has been energized by supreme shows from Europe characterised by complex storytelling, exemplary acting, and production values which frequently outclass any dramas currently being produced within the Anglosphere. Proving that aficionados of subtitled series are being rewarded with a golden age of exemplary titles and visible support from both BBC and Arrow Films, the pain of saying farewell to Borgen was soothed by unleashing the peerless second season of The Bridge onto a viewing public ill prepared for the emotional turbulence they would experience over the course of five weeks.

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As actor, presenter, screenwriter, and crime novelist, Hans Rosenfeldt has worked on, or been responsible for, some of the most intriguing series, films, and books to have appeared in Sweden over the last decade. No stranger to crime fiction, in partnership with Michael Hjorth he co-authored three Sebastian Bergman novels and scripted the Rolf Lassgård starring TV adaptation. Asked to create the first Danish-Swedish drama co-production Rosenfeldt pitched the highly original idea of placing a bi-sected corpse directly at the mid point of the Øresund Bridge, ensuring that police forces from neighbouring countries must co-operate in the investigation. The inception may pre-date The Killing, it took six years before Rosenfeldt’s ideas could be brought to screen and in that he time he honed the overall story arc ensuring that all subplots were integrated into the primary investigation with the right degree of poignancy.

A relatively hands off showrunner, at least in British terms, Rosenfeldt views dailies but doesn’t set foot on set, preferring not to inhibit the director’s freedom. Creative decisions about the overall tone of an episode and significance of specific scenes in terms of the overarching plot are worked out during production meetings which take place in the days and weeks before cameras roll on Saga and Martin’s investigation.

The hard work and determination displayed by Rosenfeldt and his core creative team, both in front and behind the lens, was justly recompensed with the news that the first season had been exported to one hundred and seventy four countries. Additionally, several remakes of varying quality were produced including Fox’s US-Mexican adaptation, and Sky Atlantic’s Anglo-French co-production The Tunnel.

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After a hair-raising finale to the first season, fans might have had reasonable cause for concern about the possibility of any new instalments diluting the impact of such an emotionally potent denouement. With Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) trapped by the near insanity of grief and guilt the series could have ended with his primal screams leaving viewers to conclude he would be forever-more be held prisoner within a personal hell without any possibility of salvation or redemption. The curtain was brought down on the show with such honest writing and depth laden performances a second series seemed inconceivable. Flying in the face of the law of diminishing returns, The Bridge‘s sophomore outing is an ingenious sequel which honours the previous batch of episodes before going on to trounce them and become a strong contender for finest Nordic drama to air on British TV screens since BBC Four opened up its schedules to European programming.

Highly accomplished acting and subtle plotting have delivered an ambitious series that accomplishes the near impossible trick of simultaneously telling a high concept story and an intense emotional tale.

Practically demanding a second viewing to spot the precise moments where specific incidents were first seeded, The Bridge delivers a complex narrative rich with subtext. Closer inspection reveals each line of dialogue is laden with additional layers of meaning, the significance of which is only fully revealed after watching the intensely charged climax. Offering no wastage, each moment of screen time is filled with intricately constructed character moments that riff on the season’s thematic subtext of unintended consequences.

Central to The Bridge‘s success is the relationship dynamic between Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) and Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), Playing with, and reversing, gender stereotypes an emotionally impulsive officer is partnered with a logician who sees social phenomena in terms of precise patterns.

In the thirteen months since events on the Øresund Bridge the only contact between Saga and Martin was at August’s funeral. Desk bound whilst he undergoes a therapy programme, Martin is still grieving for his son. Separated from his wife Mette (Puk Scharbau) and visibly tortured by feelings of remorse his colleagues treat him with kid gloves never expecting a return to active duty. Saga Norén is in charge of the investigating why a seemingly unmanned tanker piloted on a direct collision course with the Øresund Bridge. The mystery deepens when she discovers five youths chained up below the deck. Specifically requesting to be partnered once again with Martin, the pair reunite and try to deal with the consequences of what happened thirteen months ago whilst trying to solve the mystery.

Now a shadow of his former self, Martin is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Living in hope that he can reconnect with his family and silence the demons haunting his mind the opportunity to work with Saga is initially seen as a therapeutic exercise albeit one with considerable risks. Being partnered with the person who stopped him from killing Jens Hansen (Lars Simonsen) is fraught with dangers as the risk of confronting the past too soon, and without adequate medical supervision, has the potential to undo the recovery process and revert Martin to the state we saw him in at the closing moments of the first season.

Despite relatively minimal research, the producers were contacted by a Swedish aspergers charity that was very keen to praise the series’ representation of this form of autism. It is never explicitly stated within the narrative that Saga has this condition, but nonetheless this has become the most favoured diagnosis by fans and the popular press. Cast in the mould of a female Sherlock Holmes, Saga has a brilliant analytical mind coupled with an inability to break official regulations in the course of work.

The multifaceted script is replete with traps, shocks, reversals, and resets, the beauty of its construction becomes apparent after viewing the final episode. Playing games with the viewer, Rosenfeldt takes the viewer down seemingly blind alleys only to later reveal that the discarded information plays a vital part in the resolution. Emotional character arcs ground the series, preventing it from descending into an elongated logic game and assuring that the audience is able to enjoy the experiences of continually being thwarted in their attempts to double guess what links the disparate threats whilst becoming enthralled with the poignant voyage Martin and Saga take together and as individuals.

Trying to ascertain how five people listed as missing appear to be prisoners on a cargo ship opens up a panoply of enigmas and hazards. In reprising their professional relationship the mismatched pair of detectives inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that will take a sledgehammer to their friendship.

Despite being incarcerated within a maximum security prison in solitary confinement, Jens continues to make his presence felt. A force of destruction who thrives upon control and manipulation, he never expected to survive his confrontation with Martin at the end of the first season. Alone and dejected he feels impotent and seizes the opportunity to regain dominance when Martin asks to meet as part of a therapeutic exercise. Rejecting what appears to be an offer of redemption he remains an ever present opponent on the other side of the table.

Overflowing with ostensibly disconnected subplots that neatly dovetail as the series progresses. Mystification is continually augmented with the introduction of each new character, however as every scene and line of dialogue has been deliberately positioned to achieve a specific effect in terms of the narrative and the viewer’s enjoyment nothing has been left to chance by the writer, watching is initially akin to trying to piece together a jigsaw without a picture on the box for reference. Once the finale has been absorbed, the urge to immediately re-watch the series from beginning to end and savour the totality of a dense narrative with the benefit of enhanced knowledge is so strong it will take herculean powers of mental strength to resist.

A rusty ship drifting astray is the first in a series of puzzles that rapidly expands into a series of mysteries and tragedies involving poisoned food, eco terrorism, murder, industrial malpractice, and a threat to contaminate an entire EU conference with a virulent bacteria. Gathering clues whilst dealing with conflicting personal circumstances and a corrupted crime scene report, Saga and Martin race against the clock to discover who is behind the killings and prevent a disaster that could engulf the entire continent.

Wagnerian in scope, the second series of The Bridge delves into the darker moments of Saga and Martin’s psyches with contrasting outcomes. Whereas Saga is finally able to come to terms with a personal tragedy she has kept secret for many years Martin falls from grace and in doing so becomes a twisted reflection of Jens.

The Bridge is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-2-DVD/dp/B00GTKYI1C/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718104&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-2-Blu-ray/dp/B00GTKYH90/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718637&sr=8-3&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-Sofia-Helin/dp/B00GTKYHU4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718664&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Blu-ray-Sofia-Helin/dp/B00GTKYHSG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718664&sr=8-5&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

DVD Review: Anno 1790

Arrow Films’ Nordic Noir imprint powers up its very own time machine and transports us to the tail end of the eighteenth century with an audacious series that is equal parts criminal investigation, romance, political drama, and conspiracy thriller set against a background of immense social and constitutional transformation. The Age of Enlightenment was a time in which the world we know was being born. Reason battled with religion for the hearts and minds of the age. Europe may have been steeped in blood from wars and revolutions, its people tired of seeing its young men being needlessly slaughtered in military campaigns but by 1790 the continent was plunged into a conflict that had to be waged. The stakes were very high, liberation from the dark ages and the creation of a new society in which reason and science prevailed.Across the continent aftershocks from the French revolution were still being felt. Ruling elites were fearful of contagion and rebels plotted in darkened corners to overthrow the existing regimes and replace them with more egalitarian and democratically accountable models.

Created by Johan Mardell ( former head of Fiction at SVT and Head of Production at Svensk Filmindustri) and Jonas Frykberg (The Girl who Played with Fire), Anno 1790 was an ambitious undertaking from Pampas Production. Mardell’s initial aim was to create a series unlike anything else on Swedish television. By marrying the crime thriller with a historical drama Mardell and Frykberg soon realised that the dramatic possibilities afforded by not being able to rely upon modern technology to solve a plot point opened up a panoply of possible storylines. With location filming undertaken in Stockholm’s historic quarters matched alongside some highly detailed sets constructed inside an abandoned hangar in Kumla, Anno 1790 is one of the most lavishly budgeted shows to have been commissioned by Swedish broadcaster SVT. Unflinching in its recreation of life in the 1800s, the series valiantly elects not to over sentimentalise the past, instead demonstrating the harshness of life for ordinary citizens and explores the extent to which institutionally sanctioned inequalities may breed discontent.

The Russo-Swedish war is in its final stages. Our hero, Johan Gustav Dåådh (Peter Eggers) is tending the wounds of injured military personnel. Emotionally torn between the need to alleviate suffering and finding a way to end this senseless conflict Dåådh is a republican with an interest in science and a strong belief in French Revolution’s ideals. Openly expressing such views within a year of the French revolution’s opening salvo was very dangerous. Across Europe governments feared replication and would meter out severe forms of torture to those suspected of fermenting sedition. Seeking aid as he tries to offer medical assistance to the battleground’s weak, weary, and wounded Dåådh enlists the services of borderline alcoholic, and fervent Christian, Simon Freund (Joel Spira). This pairing of rationalist and spiritual believer provides a dramatically satisfying way to illustrate the the key debate of the Enlightenment era, science versus religion, in a form that is consistent with what we know of this period from surviving historical texts. Suffering a gunshot wound, Freund fears that his life may be about to end and attempts to make the atheist physician swear a religious oath the he will return the corpse to the family estate. Freund’s wound is not fatal and despite not having vocalised a vow Dåådh escorts him back home. As tutor to the children of Carl Fredrik Wahlstedt (Johan H:son Kjellgren), the commissioner of Stockholm’s constabulary Freund is a gateway to a realm of society which, by its very existence, is diametrically opposed to Dåådh’s ideological beliefs. Image

The age of the resurrectionists was not quite over in 1790. Knowledge of human anatomy was an emerging field and in private conversation with a city official Dåådh admits that having delivered Freund he is eager to bid farewell so he can return to an academy in order to further his knowledge, unaware that he will soon have ample opportunity to do so as he is forced to perform an autopsy on a local dignitary found dead in a prostitute’s boudoir. By offering assistance in the murder investigation Dåådh’s is instantly placed in opposition against the republican sympathisers with whom he previously consorted. The offer of permanent employment enables Dåådh to slowly transform the system from within ensuring that henceforth justice is to be administered in a merciful form. Any strides he may make in transforming the judicial process are viewed with deep suspicion by his former allies. Balancing on a double edged sword, Dåådh must not attract attention from those in the political arena who may regard his personal beliefs to be treasonous. Struggling to deny his love for Magdelena Wahlstedt (Linda Zilliacus), the wife of the police chief constable, Dåådh lives with an ever present fear that discovery would permanently exclude him from her company and also result in his post being filled by a competitor with less socially progressive views on how to police the city. Image

As a historical costume drama comparisons will inevitably be made with the feature film A Royal Affair and miraculously Anno 1790 manages to equal the movie’s aesthetics on a considerably lower TV budget. Some intriguing stylistic choices have been made by the art director, specifically in the use of colour, demonstrating how much in accord the creative team were in terms of communicating the creator’s collective vision and understanding the script’s subtextual material. Anno 1790 is a superlative production, containing some of the most intriguing screen moments to have occurred since the explosion of interest in Nordic films and TV. It transposes the tropes of the modern police procedural onto a historical drama and in doing so teasingly invites the viewer to comment upon how little our society may have changed despite whatever progress we may think has occurred in the ensuing centuries. Offering a glimpse into the early development of pathology as an investigative tool alongside the foundations of modern Swedish parliamentary democracy, Anno 1790 is an undiscovered classic awaiting its moment in the spotlight. A benchmark example of Nordic Noir, the series can be compared favourably to A Royal Affair, The Killing, and Borgen. Possibly the finest series you’ve never seen it should find a welcome home amongst any Scandi fan’s DVD library,

Anno 1790 can be ordered from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00CIWS5QO/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1JSJSYX8AN3HGQ8AJ2ZX&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=430153987&pf_rd_i=468294

DVD Review: Arne Dahl

81EOVs67rDL._SL1500_ In the recently published Nordic Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film & TV Barry Forshaw evaluated Sweden’s rich legacy in terms of contributions to the genre. As well as being the largest country, in geographical terms, within the Scandinavian region Sweden has been a dominant force within crime fiction ever since Sjöwall and Wahlöö created a new template which used the genre’s conventions to explore contemporary social issues. More recently Henning Mankell and Steig Larrson have continued and advanced this tradition with significant critical and commercial rewards. Into this ever enlarging cannon of Swedish crime writers comes a new name, Arne Dahl.

Whilst amassing a substantial number of published credits since 1990 it was in 1998 that literary critic Jan Arnald gave birth to his better known Arne Dahl pseudonym and started writing crime fiction in tandem with his more analytical journalistic output . In the years since the publication of the first Intercrime novel, The Blinded Man (originally entitled Misterioso) the Arne Dahl books have sold more than 2.5 million copies, been translated into 25 languages published in over 30 countries and been the recipient of several high profile prizes including both Danish and German Crime Writing Awards. p01jwpz7 With Jan Arnald/Arne Dahl’s profile riding high on the back of BBC Four’s screening of the series, Arrow Films has given the show a DVD release and Random House imprint Vintage is publishing English language translations of the first two Intercrime novels, The Blinded Man and Bad Blood with the promise of To the Top of the Mountain and Europa Blues to follow later in the year.

Produced by production company Filmlance, for Sweden’s equivelent of the BBC, SVT, Arne Dahl is a ten part series that adapts fhe first five Intercrime novels. Demonstrating their commitment to making the best possible crime show Filmlance have ensured that some of the finest directors currently working in Swedish television get to helm episodes, most notably Harald Hamrell who is best known to fans of Scandinavian TV for Beck and Real Humans. Arne Dahl The novels are some of the most intelligent examples of crime fiction to have been translated into English within recent years. Each book is densely packed with social and cultural information wrapped up in a bow made of gripping tension. To ensure that they produced adaptations which did the books justice and yet played to the strengths of TV as a medium Filmlance secured the services of Arne Dahl in an advisory capacity, Taking an active interest in the scripting and casting Dahl made sure that overall spirit of his prose was not compromised.

The first Intercrime novel, The Blinded Man, was published in the late ’90s and some minor modifications were required to bring the stories bang up to date most notably in terms of home entertainment technology, working practices, and greater strides with regards gender equality in the recruitment of senior police officer.s. That the overall beats of the story remain relatively unchanged is testament to Dahl’s understanding of the criminal psyche and some excellent plotting. The series focuses on an elite team within the Swedish police force known as the A-Unit. The team investigates new forms of criminality that have begun to appear in Sweden since globalisation became a reality. Headed by CID inspector Jenny Hultin (Irene Lindh) the A-Unit explore the darker recesses of modern Swedish society. Cases that are too sensitive or specialised for regular police departments are passed on to the team, Amongst the cases that they investigate is an attempt to put capitalism at risk by a serial killer targeting financiers, the use of Vietnam War era execution methods, a drug barons concealing his crimes, and the murder of a neuroscientist which triggers an even more more sinister chain of events.

Hand-picked by Hultin, each team member has specific skills which must be combined those of their colleagues in order to solve the case and apprehend the guilty party. It is only when functioning as a team that progress can be made but Arne Dahl has saddled each member with enough baggage to break the back of the most strong willed of people. Private tensions are such that at times it seems as though professional and private lives may simultaneously self destruct. 35420 At the start of the series we are introduced to Paul Hjelm (Shanti Ronay), an idealistic officer with a spotless career record who throws the rule book out of the window when he makes a judgement call during a siege that saves a life knowing that it might terminate his career. More alive when on the beat than at home he needs the A-Unit not only only to save his career but also to give his life meaning. With each other team member we see echoes of Hjelm’s fractured self, whatever professional accolades they have earnt has been at a great cost to their emotional well-being. Paradoxically, it is only when operating as a team that old wounds are healed and long standing psychological scars are healed.

In terms of both the fiction and production this a very well cast series. The team members function as individual components of a group psyche as such are less effective when separated from the gestalt. As any media professional will testify casting a series is an inexact science based on personal hunches that don’t always pay off but with this series they have secured the services of first rate actors who perfectly inhabit the skin of the characters they are playing. That Gunnar Nyberg (Magnus Samuelson) is played to great effect and with remarkable sensitivity by a former winner of the World’s Strongest Man contest shatters an ill founded myth that people from other disciplines can’t enter the acting profession and experience anything resembling success. The guest roles are also cast with absolute precision but the standout performances is given by Cesar Sarachu as the Obi-Wan like Cleaner who imparts mystical information at the right moment.

Arne Dahl is that most remarkable of things; a success in both mediums in spite or because each has been specifically tailored . Dahl’s career as a literary critic means that he has an acute sense of what constitutes a really cracking narrative but, thankfully, he knows precisely when to leave his more esoteric hat at the door thereby ensuring that the emotional journey follows at its own pace and is not dictated by a theoretical model. The series is an essential edition to any Scandi fans DVD library. Once the DVDs have been watched and rewatched go out and buy the books – precision perfect prose and enough subtle differences to make savouring the stories all over again worthwhile.

Arne Dahl can be ordered on DVD from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arne-Dahl-Complete-Series-DVD/dp/B00C7Q25EO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370727377&sr=8-1&keywords=arne+dahl

Both The Blinded Man and Bad Blood are available from Amazon; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blinded-Man-Intercrime-thriller-ebook/dp/B008FY4T82/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1370727377&sr=8-3&keywords=arne+dahl

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Blood-Intercrime-thriller-ebook/dp/B00CQ1D50I/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1 Image