Wallander - Original Films 1-6

9 / 10

Wallander: Original Films 1-6  

Nordic Noir is a relatively new phenomenon, the UK recently expanding it's taste for Detective stories to outside it's more normal UK and US tastes to explore those from Scandanvia.  At the forefront is Swedish author Henning Mankel and his creation Kurt Wallander, a detective from the town of Ystad.   Wallander is the usual flawed detective with a tendency to be rather headstrong whilst also refusing to be open about both his problems and sharing information with his colleagues.  

Between 1994 and 2007, Swedish TV company STV commissioned a series of 9 films starring acclaimed actor Rolf Lassgård in the title role.  The entire series was aired on BBC4 in 2008 prior to the BBC's own adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh.  This DVD set collects only 4 of the 9 films in one place, with two of them being two parters.  

Dialogue is naturally in Swedish with good English subtitles.  

Firewall (Parts 1 & 2) - Wallander is coming to terms with discovering that he is diabetic, suffering mood swings and the odd collapse which he blames on lack of sleep rather than tell his colleagues about his condition.  Meanwhile he and his team have a couple of murders to solve.  The first involves a missing taxi driver with two young girls the prime suspects.  The next is a computer expert found dead at a cashpoint with a receipt still clutched in his hand.  With Wallander trying to ignore his medical condition, his attempts to link and solve the two cases in a digital world he doesn't understand may just fall apart.  

The Man Who Smiled (Parts 1 & 2) - Wallander is having doubts about moving in with colleague and lover Maja (Marie Richardson), allowing himself to be picked up and sleep with a woman in a bar who turns out to be a prostitute.  Meanwhile an old friend of Wallander's pleads with him to look into his father's death in a road traffic accident, with the detective not believing there's something amiss until it's too late.  The subsequent investigation unearths a conspiracy involving international trade of human organs and forced donors.  

One Step Behind - the Police find the bodies of three friends buried in the woods, despite their parents receiving postcards from them from all over Europe.  Shortly afterwards Detective Svedberg is also found dead and appears to have links to the youngsters.  As well as coming to terms with his colleagues, Wallander must also face the secrets that his dead colleague was carrying.  

Pyramid - when a light plane is shot down with an anti-aircraft missile, Wallander discovers that a turf war is beginning between Ystad's current druglord and a hostile newcomer.  In the course of his investigations, the detective discovers something about one of the suspects that links back to a traumatic personal event at the start of his police career leading to an intense inner struggle which threatens the entire case.  

The title of this collection is slightly misleading as in reality while it is six films, it's only four episodes and this still leaves five of the films unreleased.  It would also have been better if the films were actually released in order as Pyramid was the last of the nine and has an air of finality about it, which is daft if Arrow are looking to release the remainder.  

Lassgård was the first screen Wallander and arguably the best, so it's a shame that this series of films has taken so long to appear.  The Swedish actor is rather superb as the morose and moody 'tec who struggles with his own problems, has a tendency to be brash without considering the consequences and clashes with his colleagues over his methods that generally don't include them.  He has a good supporting cast behind him as well, including Marie Richardson as Maja.  The relationship between the two is quite interesting as they struggle to both come to terms with their relationship, initially as lovers and then continuing to work together once they split up.  

The drama is rather gritty, which is really the norm now rather than the old glossy style detective stories and showcase the influence that can now be seen throughout the genre.  Sadly though, this film series is often overlooked due to the availability of its more recent successors.  Hopefully this welcome but flawed release will redress the balance.  


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