I’d been looking forward to watching the Swedish version of Wallander on Saturday evening on BBC 4 and there was a lot to enjoy. I love the setting: the rolling landscape, the coastline and the old parts of Ystaad. It’s beautifully filmed. The acting is excellent. Krister Henriksson is a fine actor and though he wasn’t orginally my idea of Wallander – Rolf Lassgard’s much closer in my view – I have come accept him in the role. There were lots of nice moments in last Saturday’s episode – I like the way Wallender slipped into English for a ‘not in front of the children’ moment with his daughter and granddaughter. And the ending when we realise the extent of his illness is poignant. And yet and yet . . . as the story reached its climax and Linda, Wallander’s daughter, is menaced, I found that I was actually a little bit bored. And that was the problem: the stories in these last three episodes haven’t really been up to scratch. They all unfolded pretty much as one would expect and didn’t surprise or grip me. Is it there is so much crime fiction on the TV these days that it is hard for writers to come up with something original? Or am I a jaded viewer? It might be so. I think only the first episode, ‘A Troubled Man,’ is actually based on a Henning Mankell novel, so maybe the answer lies there.
However I’ll still be watching the last three, not least to see how they handle Wallander’s memory loss and how they wind up the series.
This blog is mostly about reading, and sometimes about writing, but I do watch DVDS and TV as well. I have tended though to watch less and less TV over the years. There is hardly anything I like these days, not even dramatizations of the classics. I prefer to hang on to my own idea of Emma, or the Reverend Slope, or the ladies of Cranford. (I sometimes make an exception for Dickens who I feel does transfer to the screen well: the David Lean GREAT EXPECTATIONS is wonderful). But essentially there have been only two regular dates with the TV in recent months: DOCTOR WHO, which we watch as a family, and WALLENDER. I was an early fan of Henning Mankell (Maigret meets Ingmar Bergman) and have loved this TV series as well. Truth to tell, I think Kenneth Branagh is closer to my idea of the angst-ridden Kurt Wallender, but the Swedish series works better as an ensemble with Swedish actors playing Swedish character and Krister Hendriksson does a fine job. The last in the series was aired on Saturday so that is the end of that Saturday night treat and we’ll probably have to fall back on DVDS.
My husband and I both love film noir and we had a season of French classics a while ago, working our way through the films of Jean-Pierre Melville among others, and now we are watching a lot of American film noir. This is in its way almost as closely defined an art form as a sonnet or a sonata or a medieval romance. Raymond Chandler established the rules of the genre. The hero of course is a loner, tough and laconic and wise-cracking. He gets beaten up at least once. There nearly always is a scene in a night club where a beautiful woman in a slinky dress sings a sultry love-song in a husky voice. She is no good, but the hero falls in love with her anyway, and you know it’s not going to end well. Last night, watching Humphrey Bogart in DEAD RECKONING after an unusually busy and sociable week-end I fell asleep for ten minutes in the middle and it didn’t matter a bit. I had no trouble at all working out what must have happened in my absence and following it through to the end.