Thursday, 17 February 2011

Learning Danish


In the past week we've entered a TV viewing zone called The Killing. This is a cult Danish thriller series which has finally reached Britain. It's shown on BBC Four on Saturday nights in double episodes, and I think they're still all on iPlayer. We began our viewing on Sunday night, thinking we'd watch just the one of the episodes we'd saved up, but after getting through four understood that this was compulsive watching.

The story of Förbrydelsen centres around a murder investigation, which slowly entangles the lives of a politician, a teacher, the female detective, Sarah Lund, played by Sofie Grabol (above) with her family and colleagues, and obviously the victim's friends and family. The nineteen-year-old girl is murdered after suffering a weekend of abuse. At first everyone who has come in contact with her is under suspicion. The series is filmed in the classic Nordic style, with most scenes shot in either driving rain or in bleak twilight. There's even an initial scene where the female detective gazes into a row trees framing a vast field - very Wallander indeed.

But true to stylish Danish flare, the viewer is soon very sure this is no Wallander. Especially the political scenes showing the cut and thrust of a modern society seem somehow more Danish; while the clothes and dialogue show a far more relaxed attitude to life - even when a murder investigation clashes with an election campaign.

Troels Hartmann (Lars Mikkelsen) and Deputy Superintendent Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) in The Killing. Photograph: BBC/DR/DR
But I'm no expert on Denmark. I've only been to the country a few times, mostly travelled through it, not even leaving the train while on my way from Sweden to the UK.

But watching The Killing I've found the language quite a revelation: I understand much more than I thought I would and after a two-hour session of the series, I'm sure I could quite easily tale Dansk if push came to shove and my life depended on it. Well, I'd have a go anyway. I'm sure my lovely blogging friend Mette Bassett would disagree and even laugh at my efforts...in her very Danish, jolly way.

8 comments:

mettebassett.com said...

I must say I'm impressed Helena. Most Swedes and Norwegians I meet don't understand a word of what I'm saying.

I'm especially impressed because they seem to be mumbling an awful lot in Forbrydelsen (which I've been sucked into too, it's addictive stuff). I have a hard time hearing what they're saying.

Vi ses på tirsdag :-)

Mwa said...

Oh I speak Dutch and don't understand them - I'm most impressed as well. I've heard it's excellent. I shall have to wait until they rerun it here.

Helena Halme said...

I'm now terrified you're going to test me on Tuesday, Mette! xx

Mwa, I really recommend the series, it's really fab.

Helena xx

Jaana said...

I knew you would be hooked!I am really upset to miss this week's episodes.
I just love to see the familiar places in Copenhagen. It is also so funny to see everyone either smoking or chewing a nicotine gum which is very seldom shown in any other series.
We will have to catch up on it when we are back in London, do you not just love the iPlayer?

The Vegetable Assassin said...

AMC here in North America are starting a series called "The Killing" in April, I wonder if it's the same one or an American version of it? I'm intrigued as I've been looking forward to it for a while. I hope they do show the Scandanavian version, but knowing America they'll have remade it with American actors. Still AMC make "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" so it should be promising either way! If it's their own version I must check out the original either way. :)

Helena Halme said...

Jaana, they seem to be keeping this one longer on iPlayer than other series. So it'll be waiting for you when you get back. xx

Assassin, I do hope it'll be the original in the US!

Helena xx

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Helena, I'm very impressed you're going to learn Danish. I have enough trouble with English! Have a fabulous weekend xx

Alison Cross said...

You haven't mentioned whether the interior decor of The Killing matches up to the standard of Wallender. I spend more time examining the 70s decor than Kenneth Brannagh :-)

Ali x