Nordic noirs have become a global phenomenon, breaking existing trends in crime fiction and pioneering a new style and a wave of top-notch productions over the last century. The genre’s success boils down to its distinctive realistic style; stripped of unnecessary over- dramatization and dialogue. The intriguing language and beautiful yet unfamiliar settings are matched with dark and morally complex storylines – a step up from the traditional whodunit thriller chases native to the British studios. The latest production of the popular genre, Midnight Sun is available on EST from 8th may and DVD & Blu-ray from 5th June 2017.To celebrate this epic new drama series, we have compiled a list of some of the greatest Nordic noirs of all time.
Midnight Sun, billed as the first French-Swedish co-production, premiered at the Parisian festival, Series Mania, where it picked up an Audience Award for Best TV Series. This new Nordic noir, from writers Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, who brought us The Bridge, has quickly gained recognition for its devious storyline, stunning cinematography and extraordinary filming locations. Set in a remote area of Sweden, during a period where the sun never sets, Midnight Sun gives the screen a breath of fresh air from the usual backdrop of cityscapes in such crime dramas. The series opens with a particularly gruesome murder of a French citizen in Sweden, in which French officer Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti) is partnered with Sami policeman Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten) to investigate the crime that has torn up the harmonious native Sami community. Leading to a nasty chain of events, it appears that the murders seem to echo indigenous Sami ritual. Its darker take on human character makes this new thriller a must see. It premiered in the UK and US in March on Sky Atlantic.
Based on Jo Nesbo’s novel of the same title comes Morten Tyldem’s BAFTA nominated Headhunters. Norwegian star Aksel Hennie plays smooth talking art thief Roger Brown, who uses his job as a corporate head hunter to ply job candidates for information so he can steal their art collections and fund his lavish lifestyle. His new target, inheritor of a Ruben’s painting, Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), leads him on an unanticipated and perilous journey. Away from CGI and predictable stunts – scenes of high- anxiety, tech geek psychology and unexpected plot twists are what gained this epic thriller ten awards worldwide, whilst topping the list of the highest-grossing Norwegian film of all time.
Thomas Vinterberg’s Academy Award nominated drama, The Hunt, gives us a twisted insight into human psychology when catastrophe arises in a small Danish town. Mads Mikkelsen, often typecast as a villain, goes beyond appearances and showcases his versatility in his portrayal of Lucas, a humble day-care employee who is falsely accused of sexual abuse towards a child, and becomes a victim of mass hysteria. Mikkelsen picked up a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the role. Brilliant cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen, matched with spot on mise-en-scene make this Nordic drama a definite one to watch.
BAFTA winning Danish police procedural drama The Killing, created by Søren Sveistrup, has been noted for its jarring plot twists and gripping story lines. Each fifty minute double-bill episode (as aired in the UK and US) covers 24 hours on-screen time, giving detailed day-by- day insight into the investigated murder case. Set in Copenhagen, the series revolves around Detective Inspector Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl), who, on verge of leaving Copenhagen to join the Swedish police force and reunite with her fiancé and son, stays put after the discovery of a missing girl’s body. Perhaps different to the usual police crime thriller, The Killing, which gained cult status that lead to international appraisal, gives equal emphasis on the victim’s family crisis and the political circles that run alongside the murder investigation itself, intertwining the plot lines and making the show all the more gripping.
Named after the Øresund Bridge, the longest in Europe that connects Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmö in Sweden, comes Danish-Swedish drama The Bridge, created and written by Hans Rosenfeldt and beautifully shot in a permanent noirish gloom. Season 1’s opening double bill begins with the discovery of a perfectly laid out suited female corpse bang in the bridge’s midpoint, however here lies the twist – the corpse is not of single nature – the cadaver’s top half, lying in Swedish territory belongs to a Malmö politician, whilst the lower part of the body, lying on the Danish side of the border, belongs to a Copenhagen prostitute who had gone missing over a year before. An unlikely duo, detectives Danish Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) and Swedish Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) have to share jurisdiction and work together to find the killer behind meticulous crime, making this drama more than just a detective tale, but also about the divide between two cultures. Picking up six awards including a BAFTA nomination for best international TV drama, and inspiring an American remake of the same name, this mystery thriller is definitely worth catching up on before series 4 airs in 2018.
Midnight Sun is available on EST from Monday, May 8th, and on DVD & Blu-Ray from Monday, June 5th; rated 15. Check out the trailer below.