Thursday, January 07, 2010


Not everyone has a blog or access to the wonderful Friend Feed Crime and Mystery Fiction Forum to express their opinions.

Bill Coleman from Braunton, Devon, wrote to the Daily Telegraph with his assessment of the British version of Wallander. The letter was published under the heading 'Wishy-Washy Wallander' and I quote it in full:

Sir, I cannot understand the enthusiasm for the British version of Wallander. It is not in the same class as the Swedish version shown on BBC4. Kenneth Branagh is completely miscast-no sense of humour, spends much of the time gazing into space.

The plots make very little sense and worst of all, the actors speak English and their faces are so familiar. It seems a total waste of time and money when there is a such a superior version available.

I don't watch enough British TV programs for the actors faces to be familiar, but Bill Coleman's comments got me thinking about why the BBC did not use Swedish supporting actors. Most Swedes speak excellent English, and then at least the pace and rhythm of the dialogue might have felt more 'Swedish'.


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

I agree, Norman. It also makes me wonder why we don't have more "translated" crime fiction on our TV screens, given the success of the Swedish Wallander. There is the Camilleri/Montalbano series of course, but many others, eg Varg Veum in Norway (Staalesen) and lots of others, as one finds out by reading blogs and so on (especially International Noir Fiction). I wish there were more showings of these, with subtitles - it can't be as expensive as making these Wallanders again, from scratch, in English.

One aspect of both series but more pronounced in the English one that I didn't like, was the lack of emphasis on the teamwork. Mankell followed on from Sjowall and Wahloo in trying to depict police work somewhat realistically, as a team effort, rather than in the idealised "lone hero" way that is so typical of mainstream USA and UK detective fiction. (Hon exception: Ed McBain). The TV series Hill St Blues and The Wire really get this aspect right.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Sometimes I feel happy that Denmark is such a small country and language area that watching films in English, Swedish, Norwegian and German without dubbing is a natural thing. We have subtitles, and that works well for any grown-up reader.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

The lack of team work was unbelievable especially when Branagh crawled round outside the barn and found the chisel.
Henning Mankell, Sjowall and Wahloo, Hakan Nesser, Arnaldur Indridason, and Helene Tursten, all stress the teamwork aspect of police work in the Nordic countries. Fred Vargas makes a big thing of teamwork in her novels set in France as well.
That is why the BBC version seemed so strange.
The expense factor does not enter into it as the BBC can rely on the licence fee to cover the cost of these junkets.
I agree about the sub titled series Spiral, Montalbano, and Swedish Wallander have all been excellent. We want more!

11:37 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

One (of many) nice things about growing up in Australia - having access to so much television from overseas, shown with subtitles on SBS. Spiral, Montalbano, Wallander and various other shows have all been watched with much enjoyment by my family either live or on DVDs put out under the station's auspices. Or in several cases, both!

Now that I've moved to Germany, we've got a pretty wide range of shows available - I've spotted the Danish "The Eagle", the Sweidsh "Beck" (loosely based on Sjowall and Wahloo's novels), a rather good series based on Mari Jungstedt's novels (although the lead actor is German - not sure if the others are too), plus a number of films based on Fred Vargas novels (Adamsberg doesn't look at all how I'd imagined, but I did like the programmes). However, they're all dubbed rather than subtitled, which is rather grating. I have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of thing, but even so...they were showing The Maltese Falcon on Arte the other day, and Bogart in German is more than a bit too much!

Anyway, I'm not suggesting dubbing, merely that 'foreign' crime doesn't have to be seen as particularly edgy. No-one would seriously suggest German tv is cutting edge (except, thankfully, for its opera coverage!), and if it can do it...

I'm on the fence about other accents in English language shows. Sometimes the result is ridiculous rather than authentic. (I'm thinking of various WW2 films in particular, notably Daniel Craig's "Defiance" which had 87 varieties of Russian plus randomly used subtitles, plus Tarantino's recent "Basterds" and particularly that feeble Tom Cruise "Valkyrie".) It's particularly obvious when you've got a "native" accent alongside an improvised one, which is why I doubt it would have improved Wallander. (Saw the first ones, but obviously not the most recent.)

Sorry for the length!

3:08 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

We have German weather this morning Lauren, North German as the snow falls on packed ice.
I can't understand why Australia gets all these programs and the UK supposedly European has not until recently and then only shown on BBC4 at a late hour. There are so many cable channels showing rubbish that surely one could be devoted to 24 hour sub titled cop shows.
I have always thought that some dubbing on films was arranged by someone with my non existent foreign language skills. I agree Greenstreet and Lorre in German might be acceptable but not Bogie.
I too am an opera fan and thanks to the peace treaty between Richard Branson and the Murdoch Empire we now get Sky Arts 2 on Virgin cable with opera from the Met. That was another thing that annoyed me about the BBC Wallander in that Kurt's opera had to go because it was too much like Morse and his Wagner obsession.
I enjoy reading lengthy comments especially when they are so informative thanks. By the way I had imagined Adamsberg as a battered looking Claude Rains or Charles Aznavour.

2:18 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home