Nordic noir takes place in catalogue of crime fiction

A Scandinavian Crime Cinema and TV course at South Holland Centre, Spalding, with film lecturer Alan Seaman (back) and (from left) John and Emma Young, Paul Wells, Winston Brown, Carole and Chris Jones.
A Scandinavian Crime Cinema and TV course at South Holland Centre, Spalding, with film lecturer Alan Seaman (back) and (from left) John and Emma Young, Paul Wells, Winston Brown, Carole and Chris Jones.
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One of the most striking cultural developments of the 21st century so far has been the rise of Scandinavian crime.

Authors such as the late Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo have become almost as well-known and well-read as Colin Dexter, Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin.

Characters like Lisbeth Salander, Sarah Lund and Saga Noren have become crime fighting legends alongside Jim Taggart, Hercule Poirot and Endeavour Morse.

The reasons for this cultural shift were explored by film lecturer Alan Seaman at a one-day Scandinavian Crime, Cinema and TV course hosted by South Holland Centre, Spalding, earlier this month.

As well as showing extracts from cult classics like The Killing, The Bridge and Wallander, Alan also introduced his students to less well-known Scandinavian characters such as Iceland’s Inspector Erlendur whose choice of a takeaway is a sheep’s head.

There was also time for scenes from the original Insomnia starring Stellen Skarsgard prior to his roles in box office hits like Mamma Mia, Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man’s Chest and Avengers Assemble.

Ultimately, the course concluded that the popularity of Scandinavian crime dramas was down to a combination of a strong sense of location, landscape, fearless women characters and a changing society.

As Alan himself said: “These dramas are watched by huge numbers of people and the Scandinavian TV networks are amazed by how well these programmes have exported around the world.

“But if you transport these dramas to a different setting, they would lose their meaning because they are not just about solving the crime but the characters themselves.

“You can learn anything about a country through its crime novels.”