The rise of the Scandinavian drama

The frosty soils of Scandinavia have given rise to creatures like trolls, elves and the trickster god Loki. So it makes sense that the landscape, the architecture and the general atmosphere is great at channelling the idea of the monstrous and the unknown.

Certainly the idea of the wilderness of the Scandinavian countryside, especially in this information age, has given rise to a number of crime and drama programmes in the past few years. Most recently Fortitude hit our screens, on Sky Atlantic, while shows like The Killing, Borgen and The Legacy have achieved cult followings.

Fortitude is a British TV show, created by Simon Donald and plays host to an all-star cast which includes Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston and Sofie Grabol, who also plays the lead role in The Killing. With a grisly murder just committed in a supposedly peaceful and crime-free community, there is no telling which of the characters has committed the crime, as more than a few seem to harbour motive.

This community setting, which is based around a fairly self-sufficient population, gives the show a very distinctive Cluedo-like feel. It also provides the perfect back drop for an investigation into the limits of trust and honesty.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Scandinavia become all the rage. The sub-continent is well known for having a high intellectual output, and can boast an array of lauded writers, filmmakers and artists who have contributed to the wider world’s perception of a very idiosyncratic culture.

Danish writer Søren Kierkegaard helped get the ball rolling in the 19th century by presenting a picture of a perplexed prototype, coming to the realisation that nothing is essential. Woody Allen’s favourite director, Ingmar Bergman, was at the height of his fame in the 1950’s and 60’s, as he portrayed the vast amount of guilt that seemed to preoccupy the people of the north.

In the recent past places like Sweden and Denmark have been painted as quite bleak, with the general populous laden with anxiety and neuroses; to add to this twisted, fantastical perception, Sweden has become one of the more likely places to meet a vampire, since Let the Right One In came out, while Stieg Larsson achieved worldwide fame with his Millennium Trilogy.

It’s important to note that as the world shrinks, with lines of communication growing broader every day, so should the impact of international drama increase. If this be the case we may even see the creative world finally shift back into a state of balance.

Bryan Grogan

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