"..a bardy view!"

Forbrydelsen….The Killing

250px-Forbrydelsen,_DVDSince BBC4 began showing European crime and political
thrillers I've been hooked. They started with Wallender, the Swedish morose
detective who carried the careworn wear and tear of debilating anxiety, whose
heart condition wasn't helped by his general lack of fitness.

He drinks and
smokes, carries a paunch, lives by the sea, has a complicated private life
but survives with his trusty dog. He can't wait for his retirement, but at the
same time knows that once he takes his pension it could set him off on his long
slow decline. Still, I like Wallender because he's a seasoned old miserable
git, with rare displays of compassion and emotion.

Then there was Spiral (Engrenages) the hard hitting series
about the sleazy underbelly of Paris and the rather suspect methods of the
French police. Certainly not Midsomer Murders this one. Our anti-hero Captain
Laure Berthaud
is another character beset by emotional problems who walks the
fine line between right and wrong in order to get to the truth. In fact modern day police methods here are
not dissimilar to the Sweeney's (circa 1974). Spiral is not for the squeamish
and Laure is on constant edge, always under suspicion by her superiors, and
beset by colleagues who are equally loose cannons.

Later BBC4 gave us Inspector Montalbano, the Sicilian
Commissario of Police, and the contrast to his northern European counterparts
could not be more different.

Montalbano has a brighter laissez faire Italian disposition,
in much sunnier climes, and although equally frustrated as Wallender, at least
he doesn't have to tolerate the dark brooding landscape of Ystad in Southern
Sweden. He too lives by the sea, but the story lines are equally as dark as
both Wallander and Spiral, indicating that all is not a picture postcard. His
beat may be picturesque but his subject matter involves corruption, murder, sex
trafficking, and organised crime involving the mafia and even the church. He's
not A Touch of Frost, and certainly not Inspector Barnaby.

By far the best without question must be The Killing
(Forbrydelsen). A Danish production. BBC4 yet again took a chance and gave us
the first series involving one of the most complex characters ever to grace the
screen. Detective Inspector Sarah Lund has become quite a phenomenon in British
Television. Noted equally for her Faroe Isle jumpers as her cold, focused, yet
strangely vulnerable and intense approach. Such was the popularity of the first series, two more were made, and currently we are in the middle of the third and
final series.

The Killing is without doubt one of the finest dramas on
television today. I'm not a TV critic – I don't have the skills for it, and I'm
happy to leave that to experts like Clive James, although I do dabble in the
occasional review.

However, there is a thread which connects all of these
productions. They are all European, they involve Sweden, Denmark and Italy, and
they are all subtitled.

The astuteness of the BBC not to dub them enhances their
worth to the British viewer. A discipline is required to read the subtitles
whilst still focusing on the acting and plot, and it becomes surprisingly easy.
Not only does it require focus, but it also helps to understand a language, and
helps us feel the depth of expression without distraction of poorly synchronized
dubbing. It is testament to the BBC that they respect the intelligence of their
viewers and have not dumbed down to make it accessible.

Sadly American TV networks do not permit that level of
respect to their own audiences. They believe that foreign subtitled dramas will
not hold the attention of the typical viewer, and instead remake them for their
perceived short attention-spanned audience. As US TV is so commercially driven,
the risk of not attracting advertisers supersedes the risk of offering quality
foreign drama. "The Killing" was remade for the US audience. It didn't work
and was cancelled.

It's a paradox – a dichotomy – that a nation built on the
diversity of ethnicity and multi-culturalism – a melting pot – is incapable of
extending that diversity of global culture, because it's primary broadcasting
networks believe that their audiences are incapable of appreciating foreign
programmes with subtitles. To see the original dramas as they were made, in the
context, in the cultural settings is surely a right for everyone in a civilised
world. The cowboy in Texas can still participate in his line dancing, but at
least he surely can watch a quality European drama with subtitles if he so
wishes? That is freedom of choice surely?

There is no freedom if the opportunity doesn't exist. There
is no freedom if the broadcasters only allow you to see what they think you
want to see?

Americans have a problem with their perceived concept of
European elitism. They shy away from anything which they don't understand. We don't
have to be Europeans to understand and appreciate the plethora of culture, art,
history and architecture which emanates from the rich diversity of the European
continent. People are the same the world over, whether they live in the land of
the midnight sun or the land of the rising sun.

The most popular show in the US is "The Walking Dead" – about a Zombie Apocalypse. Blood, guts, rampant unrestrained violence and there is nothing remotely subtle about it. Laden with corporate advertising, subliminal pretentious and poor dialogue, and nothing more than a popcorn gorefest pretending to be quality drama. It panders to the lowest common denominator. It's a poor diet, but if you eat junk food, then don't complain about getting fat and lazy. An alternative diet is out there!

December 3, 2012 - Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, Italy, Politics, Religion, The Walking Dead, USA | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Iffen I had learnt to whittle in that country I would have made President. So on to the $64000 question. Which country is that?


    Comment by spookmoor | December 3, 2012 | Reply

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