Read what I thought of them here: Librarium 2015
Over the past week I have binge-watched the original Scandinavian TV series The Bridge, series 1 (2011) and series 2 (2013). It was created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt and starred Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia as (respectively) Swedish and Danish investigating cops based on either side of the Oresund Bridge which links the two countries. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever watched on TV, and here are 10 reasons why:-
- The Photography is stunning. Set in the cities of Copenhagen and Malmo, there is a wealth of high impact scenery here. Virtually every link between scenes shows a breathtaking shot of one of these cities; the bad bits as well as the good. There are also a lot of water shots, the bridge being a central character in the show.
- Saga Noren is the investigating detective from Malmo. A woman in her early thirties, Saga knows how to kick arse (that’s the Brit spelling) and looks as though she eats three times a day, which is a refreshing change. Although it’s not spelt out, Saga is on the autism spectrum and does not always respond predictably in social situations. Also in her favour ….she wears leather jeans and drives a Porsche 911.
- Women are fully represented in this series. As well as Saga, at least half the Swedish team are women, the Danish chief of police is a woman, a newspaper editor is a woman…..women are everywhere taking part in society and being treated as intelligent human beings with ideas and opinions which are listened to.
- The language is a joy to listen to. The show is subtitled in English, the dialogue being a mixture of both Danish and Swedish. I loved how some phrases could easily have been uttered by someone in the North East of England or Scotland.
- The Scandinavians know how to keep warm. Everyone seems to have a proper woollen coat down to their knees, and plenty of layers of warm knits, quilted bodywarmers and thermal underwear. How very sensible.
- The architecture is really cool. One building that caught my eye is, upon further research, The Turning Torso in Malmo; Scandinavia’s tallest building, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava. It looks as though it shouldn’t really be possible. The Bridge itself is also rather beautiful, and there are many, many shots of it throughout the two series, taken from every imaginable angle.
- The Theme Tune, played with the opening and closing credits, is a haunting song called Hollow Talk by Copenhagen band Choir of Young Believers. I thought it was rather dreary at first, but by the end of series 2 I was hooked. It just fits so well.
- Martin Rohde, the detective on the Danish team, is a tortured soul, emotionally fragile, but can be a roaring tiger when needs must. A huge bear of a man, with the most expressive face, he looks like the ideal cuddle dispenser. Unfortunately for Martin, the misfortune keeps on escalating, and I fear we have seen the last of him.
- The storylines are pretty far out and crazy, but somehow the brilliance of the writing, the performance and all my previous points make it immaterial. Nothing can belittle the impact of all-round fabulousness.
- Series 3 is in production and will be on our screens at the end of this year or in early 2016 (earlier if you live in Scandinavia of course). I can hardly wait.
Read what I thought of them here
I have a new book page for 2015 – for my current and all future reads this year
Two sharing a common theme of the 2nd World War. And also railways if you look at the covers alone!
Read what I thought of them here: Librarium 2014
Last night I went to watch Shakespeare Schools Festival’s performance night at my local theatre. Now in its fifteenth year, the festival was designed to enable 8 to 18 year olds to have their very own grown-up drama experience in the form of performing a Shakespeare play on a full-size theatre stage in front of a paying audience. Participating schools get to choose their play and are sent the script for a pared down version which can be performed in about 30 minutes. They are given a couple of sessions with professional actors who will help them give their best performance, and plenty of support with technical stuff, marketing and publicity. At the theatre on performance night, the actors get dressing rooms just like they were pro’s, they get a great introduction from the MC, and they are given a very positive critique at the end (also in front of the audience). This is all great; the concept is good, the organisation is thorough and the children come away feeling they have really achieved great things – which they have. They have gained valuable experience, their confidence is boosted and they are inspired to go on to bigger and better things.
We had four plays to watch; three I enjoyed, but then there was The Taming of the Shrew. I’d never seen the play, or read the script, but this is what I gathered from the condensed version enacted last night….
A man has two daughters that he wants to marry off. The youngest is a sweetie and has no end of suitors, but the eldest has a caustic tongue and is rather nasty. The boyfriend of the youngest knows that he and his love won’t be able to wed until the eldest sister is, so he persuades some dopey chap, P, to take her on. P forces the elder sister to marry him, beating her senseless until she stops speaking for herself and allows him to, quite literally, walk all over her. The younger sister marries her chosen one, who turns out to be loaded, and the girls’ father feels very smug.
This play is called a comedy and was acted out by a very young cast of boys and girls who looked to be aged 11 to 15. About fifty per cent of the audience was from the same age group. There was plenty of choreographed “beating” where the boys knocked the girls to the ground, lifted their heads up by the hair, cast them down again and gave them a few backhanders. One scene very artily used a back-lit screen to make one particularly savage beating by P into a shadow play (this was singled out for praise by the MC). I was most disturbed that this was what passed for an appropriate subject for a children’s play. There was no trigger warning, no rationalization, no attempt to make clear that this behaviour is wrong. It was presented as a perfectly reasonable way to deal with a sharp-tongued wife, a wife who would doubtless be thankful for being shown the error of her ways, no matter the method.
I think this play should not have been included in the Shakespeare Schools Festival, or it should have had a rewrite to let the “shrew” have her comeuppance in a non-violent way. Children already see too much violence in films and on television; some also see it in their family homes. Last night the violence was carried out by their peers on their peers, by their brothers on their sisters, and it was in the name of entertainment and it was laughed about. This was a production devised and directed by a teacher, someone who should be safeguarding our children. The Taming of the Shrew was ugly, upsetting and wholly inappropriate.