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“Forbrydelsen” er fantastisk – something fresh from the state of Denmark

R & I have been gripped by the Danish crime Drama “Forbrydelsen” or “The Killing” as it’s dubbed on BBC4. We got the DVD boxset over christmas so we could watch season 2 and generally savour what is, in our opinion anyway, one of the best crime drama series in the history of tv. But the question remains, why is it so good? After all, there’s a rash of scandinavian crime fiction out there and some excellent tv series and movies based on Laarson’s Millenium trilogy and Henning Mankell’s ubiquitous Inspector Wallander. It seems we should be tired of the glut of “nordic noir” but the BBC audience figures (800,000 excluding iPlayer) and Bafta win are astonishing for a subtitled show set in a country that the typical English viewer associates with a Shakespearean play and a lager? Is “Forbrydelsen” Denmark’s greatest export? Probably 🙂

Here’s my attempt at analysing what makes it great without giving away the plots for those watching it on iPlayer, DVR or boxsets. In no particular order:

  1. The are no “big name” stars & hence no psychological baggage that we bring into our understanding of the characters. In the non-Danish viewers mind, Sarah Lund and Sophie Grabol are one and the same person with not cognitive dissonance between this and other roles that she may have played.
  2. The show has its own formula, visible over both series, where it mixes large scale themes of political corruption and the imperfection of justice systems with small scale and intimate views of the suffering of a single family. Both are given equal importance and blended deftly. There is a unifying metaphor. The fate of a city or country are decided based on personal agenda and relationships. Grand ideologies eventually crumble at the smallest of challenges, the cough, the wink. Continue reading