Monday, 22 August 2011

The Killing (Forbrydelsen): Familiar, but different - and knitwear fetish intact

It's interesting watching the BBC Four repeats of the original Danish version of murder investigation drama The Killing, only several weeks behind the showing of the American remake on Channel 4.

Aside from the obvious difference of the language - the Danish speech lends the programme a sort of melancholic quality, perhaps not unlike if ABBA were to sing in their native Swedish tongue about a particularly bad heartbreak but compared awkwardly to a game of cards in some way - it seems like large parts of the US version match the original.

So instead of Sarah Linden leaving Seattle to go to LA, we get Sarah Lund leaving Copenhagen to go to rural Sigtuna, near Stockholm in Sweden, with her fiancé.

And we know that's not going to work out well.

And instead of that relentless rain in the US version, visually the original seems a bit brighter, crisper.

But what's also interesting are the minute, subtle differences - when Lund gets out of bed to be greeted by her fiancé, she's in one of his shirts and we see she's all legs and pants.

Sarah Linden meanwhile keeps herself festooned in oversize jumpers 24/7 - although we can see now that's adapted from the original, too.

Sarah Lund's working the knitwear like it's going out of fashion.

And the blow-up male doll that greets Lund on her last day at work, as a surprise from her colleagues, has a great big dildo stuck on it - but there's no such eye-popping detail on the US version.

Gosh - those crazy, crazy Europeans with their liberal values.

But when the discovery of the murdered girl, Nanna Larsen, is made, in the original we see only her bound feet, and her bound hands. The rest if left to imagine.

In the US version, we see Rosie Larson's submerged, battered body in full, after the car in which she was dumped is pulled from the lake.

It's gruesome and upsetting - but maybe says a lot about the differences of the tv networks in the US and Scandinavia.

Plastic penises, no; graphic shots of murdered girls, why yes.

Although, arguably the latter's much more relevant to the plot, of course - unless the original Danish version is way different from the American remake.

As BBC Four show four episodes of this 20-part series per week, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds, and spot the differences and similarities to the US copy.

But even if you're not familiar with the Channel 4 version, it looks like the Danish version is just as involving, dramatic, and well made.

And with a main character who loves big jumpers.

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