Dark and deadly, the 'Nordic Noir' hits keep coming

Mon Feb 3, 2014 8:22pm EST
 
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By Nigel Stephenson

LONDON (Reuters) - Millions of people around the world have become avid fans of what is known as Nordic Noir detective and crime stories set in Scandinavia, with the next question after whodunit being why are they so successful?

"The Bridge", a subtitled Danish-Swedish eco-terrorism crime saga reached its conclusion on British television on Saturday with more than a million viewers - the latest international success for the TV, film and literary genre.

Coinciding with the show's climax, a weekend "Nordicana" conference of all things Nordic, from actors to food, brought many of the genre's unlikely stars to London where one of the questions they were peppered with was: why does this work?

"I hope it's the quality of the drama and the essential things of humanity that you can imagine in all countries," said actress Sidse Babett Knudsen. Playing the role of Birgitte Nyborg, she became Denmark's first, if fictional, female prime minister in the first season of the political drama "Borgen".

Life later imitated art and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, whose "selfie" with U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron at Nelson Mandela's memorial service made headlines, became Denmark's first real female premier in 2011.

Nordic Noir has a long vintage.

Perhaps the best known recent success was Stieg Larsson's Millennium series of novels, starting with 2005's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". They have sold more than 60 million copies and been made into Swedish and U.S. films.

But for Nordic TV drama, the lodestone was "The Killing" first produced by Danish public broadcaster DR in 2007 and starring Sofie Grabol as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund.   Continued...