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Topic: Nordic Noir (Read 3600 times)

  • ersi
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Nordic Noir
This thread may serve as a collector of entertainment news and curiosities in yellow media. I guess this is how it was originally planned too.

This one is for those who are on board with the latest craze in TV series. (I'm not.) The Bridge, apparently started as a Swedish-Danish crime drama TV series, has successfully franchised its format to BBC and beyond, most lately to Russia, where the story is now placed at the border with Estonia.

The Bridge: new version to span Russia and Estonia
  • Last Edit: 2016-04-06, 13:48:37 by Frenzie

  • Frenzie
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Re: Danish Crime Series
Reply #1
Danish crime series are really popular internationally. I haven't seen this particular one, though.

  • jax
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Re: Danish Crime Series
Reply #2

This thread may serve as a collector of entertainment news and curiosities in yellow media. I guess this is how it was originally planned too.

This one is for those who are on board with the latest craze in TV series. (I'm not.) The Bridge, apparently started as a Swedish-Danish crime drama TV series, has successfully franchised its format to BBC and beyond, most lately to Russia, where the story is now placed at the border with Estonia.

The Bridge: new version to span Russia and Estonia

I think the thread was intended for news media, other forms of scripted entertainment have their own threads.

That said, The Bridge (Bro[e]n) is, much like Chinese restaurant food, particularly interesting for the remakes. There was an North American (The Bridge), an Anglo-French (The Tunnel), and now a Baltic version. Nothing wrong in a remake, the original is highly derivative as well (as are the other Scandinavian crime series). To recap, a body is found on the bridge/tunnel/border, one half on each side of the border. Hilarity ensues. So far Mexico, France, and Russia have become Denmark, the US, England, and Estonia have become Sweden.

If The Tunnel looks familiar, it's because it's a format that works
Quote from: The Guardian
It's a popular format: nothing, it seems, has more crossover appeal than the irritation that one's national neighbours are so easily able to cross over into your own country.

The Tunnel is an example of the sort of international co-operation that is increasingly commonplace in television, as formats migrate globally to and from surprisingly far-flung places. Broadcasters do so in the assumption that they already, as Alan Partridge put it, have a hit on their hands, with just the addition of some local spin required. The Tunnel was made for Sky Atlantic in conjunction with French television channel Canal Plus and seeks to take advantage of the familiarity of a format while also getting at something unique - namely, Britain's relationship with France; so close geographically, so distant culturally.



  • Frenzie
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Re: Danish Crime Series
Reply #3
I think the thread was intended for news media, other forms of scripted entertainment have their own threads.

We even have a specialized forum for it. I figured I'd split and move.

I enjoyed the American remake of The Killing. The leading IMDB review is not inaccurate, but unfortunately IMDB seems to have no permalinks to reviews, or even any kind of links at all:

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But it is the imperfect, wonderful world we all live in. Which brings me to AMC's fantastic 'The Killing'. A Danish import, 'Killing' follows the murder investigation of young woman in Seattle, Washington. The story is told in thirteen 1 hour episodes through the perspectives of the people whose lives are impacted by the murder and subsequent investigation, with special emphasis on lead investigator Sarah Linden (played picture-perfect by Mireille Enos). Amazingly, despite a fairly large cast, there is nary a flat character to be found. All the players are fleshed out, fully realized people with deep complexity and back-story. This allows the show to rise above a simple whodunit police procedural and really delve into just what a murder means to the people in the victim's life. It is alternately dark and gritty, inspirational, and heart breaking to watch these people cope with the loss and fear that surrounds this girls murder.


But my regular viewing is geared more toward regular procedurals, I suppose, like NCIS. And, incidentally, I really like Jon Cryer's new role.


  • jax
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Nordic Noir Re: Danish Crime Series
Reply #4

Danish crime series are really popular internationally. I haven't seen this particular one, though.


As a category "Nordic Noir" is way more popular with the guardianrati and British in general than "Danish Crime Series", for whom alliteration and French language is de rigueur. Wikipedia seems to have opted for Scandinavian Noir which loses the alliteration, as well as a few countries/series, including the Icelandic Trapped, which I haven't seen, but has gotten good reviews.

Anyway, "Danish Crime Series" would miss many of the usual suspects, including The Bridge, which is Swedish-Danish more than Danish-Swedish, and several others that either are not strictly Danish nor strictly crime.

Anyway, as a genre it is very derivative, inspired by British and American books, movies and series in particular. Thus "noir" is fitting, in the middle stage a typical protagonist would be a social democratic Philip Marlowe in a landscape as Scandinavian as Chandler's was Southern Californian.  Which puts them, and the current crop, on the canny hilltop, exotic yet familiar.

It's an advantage that people don't usually speak the language. There are nice parts as well as awkward passages in most of these, and the Non-Nordics seem to put the latter down to a different locale rather than bad writing/directing or poor acting.

There is even British Nordic Noir, Fortitude is very clearly British, but the town "Fortitude" is modelled upon Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and the series uses Scandinavian mannerisms (and many Scandinavian actors), rather than British.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #5
That reminds me, I should get around to reading Pietr-le-Letton. Or, how the title that is synonymous with the French detective novel includes a Baltic element. I read the first chapter when I decided to rekindle my interest in French because these books aren't too complicated, but the overload of Dickensian (or detectivian?) character descriptions in the beginning didn't do quite enough to overcome the basic communicative difficulties in the way a good Spirou or Asterix does. Instead I read some Pynchon, and thought V kept on going for a bit too long. I also reread Dune, and it was still as good as I remember it from half a lifetime ago.

  • jax
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #6
Inspector Maigret was quite in fashion in Norway around the eighties, I read one myself, forgot which, and had no desire to read any more, but yes, by description this should be a Belgian Nordic Noir, or maybe rather Baltic Black.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #7
In French, they're somewhat mysteriously called polar. According to my Petit Robert it's a shortening portmanteau of the terms roman policier, the "official" term for detective novel, and argotique, the adjective form of argot, meaning slang. Or, as the Petit Robert puts it, langage cryptique des malfaiteurs, cryptic language of wrongdoers (and by extension any kind of jargon).

  • ersi
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #8
I had forgotten about this subforum. It says a lot about the futility of subforums* and how I really don't watch TV. I really don't. Last time I followed a Nordic series on TV was last century. That's so long ago I forgot what it was. Probably there's been nothing after Kummeli sketches.

*They are hard to navigate even when we have as few of them as we do. Still, we have just the right number of them and the right kind. Other forums tend to oversubdivide.

  • jax
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #9
Saw a trailer for Midnight Sun, a French-Swedish series set in Northern Sweden and France. Definitely within the genre, though the French-Swedish-English (for French and Swedish to communicate)-Sami (for tribal frisson) language mix is not usual. 

The French interest will be involved as the British were in Fortitude, to investigate a murder of a citizen in Northern latitudes. The usual and unusual will then ensue in 8 episodes.




  • Belfrager
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #10
Philip Marlowe in a landscape as Scandinavian
A Scandinavian Marlowe is an abortion.
A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #11
Not noir, but it seems that the Norwegian series Skam (Shame) is very rapidly becoming a thing. The genre, teenage drama, didn't interest me even when I was a teenager. Self-obsessed enough to attract teenagers in the first season, middle-aged/parent generation curious about what the teens are on about in the second, and Non-Norwegians (other Scandinavians and more remote aliens) by the third. 

the real and risqué norwegian tv show causing teen hysteria

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Karagülle told me it centred on high school students and their struggles, dreams, and rakish hookups in Oslo. Each season is told from the POV of one main character. It's unique in that clips of the show are posted in real time online, as if its characters are real people. So, for example, if a party on the show is happening Saturday at 2am, that's when the party clip is posted. On Fridays, all the clips published that week are assembled into one episode. When the show isn't on air, fans can interact with the characters via fake profiles on Instagram and Facebook. Text messages between characters are also posted online, prompting speculation throughout the week. It's like you're living with them, says 20-year-old Grazia Ames, a fan of the show. "I like some photos on Instagram because I like the fact that they make them seem just like another friend or real person out there."
Surreality TV it ain't, and I consider it pretty awful (significantly more awful than pretty), but a thing is a thing, and thus likely to be copied.

  • PassionRopsy
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Nordic Noir
Reply #12
I agree that the Nordic Noir series has been really haphazard technically.  That said, take a look at how many BD-only exclusives they actually have in UK territories, so its not all bad.  Also, FYI, the Nordic Bridge Series 1 used to have English subs, but a subsequent printing has removed it presumably contractually obligated.

  • jax
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #13

Saw a trailer for Midnight Sun, a French-Swedish series set in Northern Sweden and France. Definitely within the genre, though the French-Swedish-English (for French and Swedish to communicate)-Sami (for tribal frisson) language mix is not usual. 

The French interest will be involved as the British were in Fortitude, to investigate a murder of a citizen in Northern latitudes. The usual and unusual will then ensue in 8 episodes.


Saw it. The language aspect is enjoyable, flowing between Finnish, Swedish, Sami, English, and French, and the characters have limited fluency in the languages, leaving to less than perfect translations. The script, however, was a bit of a mess, and with some of the more extreme cases of ethnoporn i've seen  in recent years. Better written it could have been brilliant, but now it vacillated between enjoyable and baffling.

It could otherwise be pleasant a smörgåsbord, covering relationship between minorities (berber, kven, sami), and with majorities, the wilderness and midnight sun of the title, the moving of Kiruna, bestial murders for no particularly good reason, mining community, living outside civilization. and the bureaucracy of law enforcement.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #14
Inspector Maigret was quite in fashion in Norway around the eighties, I read one myself, forgot which, and had no desire to read any more,
No surprise, Maigret is not for everybody. To be in fashion in Norway is already a strange thing but I still can understand it, fog and docks.

I read somewhere that a tv series called Line of Duty about policemen arresting policemen it's considered as a British  "Nordic Noir" style.
It seems to me Nordic Noir to be more inclusive than a Spanish Hostel...



A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #15
The whole crime genre is derivative, literarily incestuous.  As a subgenre/category Nordic Noir would be on the canny hill, different and unknown enough to be exotic, but not so different to be strange. They rearrange a number of tropes, sometimes subvert them (occasionally brilliantly).

TV, to some extent literature, is in transition. The timing was right. Nordic writers had been reading and watching other countries' output for decades, but living in smaller pools, not only were they not discovered, they had to mutate faster to survive. Darwin as a book. The bigger seas have been staid for a while.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #16
The whole crime genre is derivative, literarily incestuous.
Interesting theory. Maybe it is, maybe not.
TV, to some extent literature, is in transition. The timing was right. Nordic writers had been reading and watching other countries' output for decades, but living in smaller pools, not only were they not discovered, they had to mutate faster to survive. Darwin as a book. The bigger seas have been staid for a while.
I see not literature as species evolution according the law of the strongest.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #17
I see not literature as species evolution according the law of the strongest.
Perhaps because fittest doesn't mean strongest. :p

  • ersi
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #18

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #19
I see another bridge. :)

  • ersi
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #20
The Bridge: new version to span Russia and Estonia
This was in 2016. Now it's ready and started airing https://tv3.ee/saade/sild/
Okay, some comments after watching the first three episodes.

First the positive. Nice dark visual esthetic (easy on the eyes) and a background score reminiscent of Drive [edit: How did I get it wrong the first time?] This particularly applies to the opening episode.

And now the rest.

A predominant theme in the series is a play on European-versus-Russian stereotypes, which is neither insightful or funny, and does not help the plot to advance.

Ah, the plot. Like TV series usually, it is predominantly dialogue-driven, and the main device to make it seem that some action is happening too is change of scene/location. This does not fool me, particularly when the dialogue is dense with plot holes. Luckily they are not the kind of plot holes that don't make sense at all in a detective story. Still, there is a mass of details in the wrong order or at the wrong time, so the result is the same - that's not how detectives work. I guess it is called wrong structuring of the storyline and wrong sequencing of plot points.

When the plot is dialogue-driven, it is unfortunate that the post-production of sound is a hit and miss. Some background voices that would be hugely beneficial to explain what is going on in the screen are overly tuned down. Also, many Estonian characters are tuned down throughout for no apparent reason. Except perhaps to make it absolutely clear to every viewer that post-production of sound was done in Russia. As was pretty much all the rest of production, while Estonia served only as the location of some scenes. 

Special care has been taken to depict the Estonian main character, the female detective, as absolute schmuck. The schmuckness of that character might be due to the original dramatic premise, but it is outlandishly overexaggerated far beyond the point of ordinary culture conflict between Russians and Estonians (often referred to as "Europeans" in the dialogue). The exaggeration is so outrageous that it's not just bad writing, it is at best bad research, at worst intentionally inflammatory political propaganda.

The clash of cultures between Estonians and Russians, while it exists in real on the ground, does not exist in that form, and the depicted form does not make for a good entertainment. To be sure, Estonians and Russians have so many different elements in behaviour that they do not mix easily. However, there are so many Russians in Estonia that Estonians are well aware of Russian culture and generally capable of accommodating themselves to Russian mannerisms. And then there is the city of Narva (Estonia), where the story starts. It is not just any Estonian city, but a city with a 90+ percent Russian population. The borderguards and policemen are Russian there on both sides!

The Estonian language, as seen and heard in the series, is such a terrible mix of accents and outright language mistakes that I am positive that some highup in the production took special care to make it such. The first language of the main Estonian character is best called fake Estonian, while her second language is Russian with a noticeable accent. How could the makers of the series screw up both languages in one main character? By employing a Lithuanian actress and using her real voice throughout, even though there was a good set of Estonian extras available and plenty of opportunities to fix matters in post-production.

The actors employing fake Estonian (there are a number of them besides the main criminal police character) have been provided with subtitles by the Estonian TV to make the fake Estonian understandable. Real Estonian actors, when speaking Estonian, come with no subtitles, not even when their voice is tuned so low that it is near-inaudible. Why should they be near-inaudible? Could it be that many viewers have TV's with cinema quality audio system? I don't.

An interesting detail on tech displayed in the series: Computers and smartphones have neither Mac or Windows, but something that seemed like Yandex-skinned Android.

All in all, production values are far more interesting to observe about this series than the plots and themes. Somebody messed up big time, but in an instructive way for students of theatre, cinema, and TV.
  • Last Edit: 2019-01-18, 08:15:37 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #21
When the plot is dialogue-driven, it is unfortunate that the post-production of sound is a hit and miss. Some background voices that would be hugely beneficial to explain what is going on in the screen are overly tuned down.
It seems to be an odd current trend of sorts to make voices super quiet, so that when you turn up the volume some other noise will deafen you. I like dynamic range and all, but it's going too far. Elementary is an example of a show that we think is good enough to keep watching in spite of this issue.

Could it be that many viewers have TV's with cinema quality audio system? I don't.
I do, in a manner of speaking. It's a cool effect on well-made 5.1 audio (voices typically in the front, other noises in "surround" sound) but these whisper quiet voices are still inaudible. I could make the front center speaker louder on the amplifier to somewhat work around the issue or something like that, but as far as I'm concerned you'd have to be pretty crazy to bother with speaker settings for individual shows.

I have a Yamaha system from a decade ago, which was the old model then, which is why I got it for a reasonable amount of money. The annoying thing is that the amplifier doesn't take HDMI audio, so it's incompatible with modern lossless 5.1 (or 7.1) sources. Anyway, it's basically the low end of good.

  • ersi
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #22
It seems to be an odd current trend of sorts to make voices super quiet, so that when you turn up the volume some other noise will deafen you. I like dynamic range and all, but it's going too far.
Oh, so instead of being a hit and miss, it is a trendy experiment. I sort of guessed the aim was to make the sound production seem as if cinemaic, but it is an entirely misconceived aim imho. The only tolerable technology to "enjoy" such sound is perhaps expensive headphones.

I do not have a TV set at all. To watch TV, I have to go visit friends or neighbours or such. And every time I do, I get good confirmation once again that it's not worth it. Some providers are a bit better than others, but none good enough to make me want that "service" at home round the clock, when I only "consume" max once a week.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Nordic Noir
Reply #23
Oh, so instead of being a hit and miss, it is a trendy experiment.
I'd have to check, but perhaps Elementary comes to us in regular stereo, which could be indicative of a badly downmixed 5.1 original source. But on a show like Preacher (not recommended) it's by design for sure. They want it to be unsettling... but the problem is it's more annoying than anything else.

The only tolerable technology to "enjoy" such sound is perhaps expensive headphones.
Maybe, but I bought the Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which has an audio option for extended dynamic range, and it's fantastic. For whatever reason they recommend doing it only with headphones, but it sounds glorious either way. Pretty much anything better than phone speakers or earbuds that came with your phone will do, imo.