The Killing was one of the first dramas that became known as Nordic Noir, that was aired in Britain. Basically the plot revolves around a killing of a Danish teenager and the subsequent police investigation into solving the murder. The main detective assigned to this is Sarah Lund (brilliantly played by Sophie Grabol) It becomes clear how emotionally involved with the case Lund becomes as it starts to absorb her life and her personal life suffers as a consequence. All the action takes place in Copenhagen and the plot twists and turns to involve pretty much all aspects of Danish life. I felt quite smug about The Killing as I guessed who did it, quite early on, much to my husband’s annoyance.
The worldwide success of The Killing prompted a whole wrath of Nordic murder mystery dramas that soon drifted onto our shores. The pick of the bunch has to be The Bridge, which, for me, surpasses The Killing. The Bridge starts off on a bridge. Basically the bridge that links Copenhagen with Malmo in Sweden. In the first series a body is found on the bridge right on the Danish/Swedish border. This means that both police forces become involved in solving the mystery. In The Bridge, the detectives are much more well developed as characters, in my opinion than in The Killing. The Swedish detective assigned onto the case is a female detective called Saga Noren. It becomes quite clear early on that there is something not quite right with Saga. She struggles with human interaction and it’s quite clear that she is slightly autistic. She works on the case 24 hours and at times looks a bit like a robot in the way she deals with suspects.
Her Danish counterpart is the complete opposite. His name is Martin Rohde. If anything he is all too human. He is married with about four children from various women. In the course of the investigation he ends up sleeping with the widow of one of the victims. However, he is likeable and is the complete opposite of Saga. Yet he understands her and often bails her out in some of the awkward social situations she finds herself in.
Both dramas are quite similar in their production methods. The action seems to happen in the pitch dark and it’s normally pouring with rain. Also it always seems to revolve a port, a car park or some dodgy looking industrial estate. They are hardly adverts for the best that Copenhagen and Malmo have to offer.
It’s quite hard to define what the appeal of Nordic Noir is. I guess it’s partly due to how Sarah Lund, Saga Noren and Martin Rohde react to the increasingly horrific events that occur in the plot. They react in such a professional and detached way that it seems on the outside that they are not affected by it at all. However, it’s only when the story focuses on their own personal lives that we see how much the detective work affects them. This is more evident with Saga for whom the case is all consuming. You get the impression with Saga that without her work, she would have no reason to exist.
The detectives in some Nordic Noirs remind me a little bit, of the various medical professionals that I have encountered. On the surface they look like that everything is in control. We have a plan and we will follow that plan to resolve this matter. It’s when the plan doesn’t work that you can have a slight peak behind their professional mask. Then you realise that actually they aren’t in control. It’s what is inside your body that is controlling everything. Sometimes they are helpless in what they can offer and that’s when their mask can sometimes slip.
The following week Dr B called. This was a very rare thing. Normally consultants have secretaries to do that kind of thing, so to have a consultant call you in person was a big deal.
“Urm… Hi Anna? Can you pop in and see me tomorrow morning in Oncology? How about 10ish?”
I said that I could and immediately called my sister. She was on maternity leave so was quite grateful for some grown up conversation. I told her about my conversation with Dr B.
“Right I’m coming up…”
“What?!? Who’s going to look after Luke?”
“I’ll sort it. But I’m coming up as I think we need a few answers…”
So the next morning, we were sat in the waiting room in Oncology, with my sister drinking coffee by the mugfuls.
Dr B actually called us through in person, which again is another rarity as it’s normally the nurses who do the shouting.
She showed us to her office and she positioned the chairs so that she was sitting directly opposite me.
“Right… the reason I’ve called you in is that we’ve had some new information from the Royal Marsden…”
What had happened as, true to his word, Mr N had passed my CD onto his colleagues at the Royal Marsden. They had come up with a plan. The plan involved a second round of radiotherapy. A more targeted form of radiotherapy. The good news was that Nottingham had just installed a radiotherapy machine that could do the exact type of targeted radiotherapy that the Royal Marsden had recommended. But Dr B wasn’t keen…
“I’m not too sure if your body, namely your head could cope with that extra radiation. However it is quite common in the US and on the continent for patients to have two cycles of radiotherapy, so it may just work…”
We discussed the pros and cons and in the end decided to go for it. The consent form was signed and radiotherapy round two, here we come!