Friday, 1 June 2012

The Bridge (Broen)

I've been laid up with a bit of a virus over the last few days, unable really to read or indeed work on anything creative. My almost completed Shamutanti Hills project lies gathering dust, I have not even the strength to pick up a paint brush, and at times I've been too ill even to be able to read. Luckily, I discovered The Bridge on BBC iPlayer, a Nordic closed ended crime series in 10 parts.

The demand for Nordic serials in the UK has been picking up on the strength of the success of Stieg Larsson's Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. I've already seen the excellent Danish political thriller, Borgen, which dealt with the then-fictional prospect of a woman reaching the prime minister's job (something achieved in real life by Helle Thorning-Schmidt in September 2011 - after Borgen was broadcast).

Approaching The Bridge, I did experience a little trepidation, as I wondered whether it would reach Borgen's dizzy heights. It's fair to say that it exceeded them.

Here are the opening credit, along with the haunting theme from Hollow Talk -

If you liked Se7en, you'll like The Bridge. It's like Se7en, but at almost 600 minutes, a lot longer, and slightly less graphic in its brutality (although not by much). It focuses on a joint Danish/Swedish investigation into the murder of a Swedish politician, who is found lying precisely on the borderline between the two countries, on the Oresund Bridge (hence the series' title) across the straits.

The murder forces the two police forces to begin working together, and creates the unlikely duo of Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) for the Danes and the sociopathic Saga Norin (played by the outstanding Sofia Helin) for the Swedes. I have to confess, non-Nordics probably miss out on a lot of the gentle ribbing that goes on between the two nationalities and some of the national stereotypes - if there are any there, they went right over my head! A good example is when Rohde has to brief a room full of Swedish cops, but speaks too quickly, and ends up with them all looking at him blankly, as while similar, Danish is still a different language.

Saga Norin, though, is a great character as an investigator. She is highly efficient, very courageous, but ultimately completely lacking in interpersonal skills. While the character makes some great leaps of logic as to the killer's identity over the course of the series, she has a hard time maintaining her relationships with others on an even keel. This is mainly because she has no capacity for small talk, and always speaks her mind. She has no capacity to lie. Ever. Consequently she is always creating embarrassing situations for herself, often without realising it. This is a constant them through the series, and I liked it a lot.

The director also manages to invoke a bleak urban landscapes of both Copenhagen and Malmo, especially the harsh, wintry quality of the light. It adds to the gritty, often uncompromising feel of the whole series. With a series like this, it is hard to really go into more detail without giving everything away.

Really worth a look if you get the chance. Unfortunately this is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, and I had to watch the whole thing in the space of three days in order to catch it all. In a way, this was a good thing, as each episode ends on a cliff hanger. I'd have had a hard time waiting a week for the next one to be released!


  1. I missed The Bridge as I didn't even realise it was on. It's a shame, as I really enjoyed The Killing -- series two in particular -- so I'm sure I would have liked it.

  2. We loved this. Great characters, twisty turny plot. I'm glad we caught it on i-player, but I'd have happily paid for a boxset.