Friday, May 27, 2011

WALLANDER Starring Kenneth Branagh

Ystad, Sweden Train Station

Inspector Kurt Wallander's
Favorite Ystad Bakery

Wallander's #1 Ystad Hot Dog Stand

Why all of these old pictures of Ystad, Sweden and references to author Henning Mankell's famed crime solver you ask? Well, let me tell you a story. . .

Every Sunday, the Los Angeles Times' Calendar Section includes a list of the Top Ten selling books in America.

A few weeks ago I noticed that included in the Top Ten list was a new Henning Mankell book, The Troubled Man. In it, he resurrects my favorite Swedish/Skåne/Ystad police inspector, Kurt Wallander.

Last year, after Uffe Palmbrink put me on to Mankell's great nine book series of Scandanavian crime writing, I made it my goal to read the entire series before returning to California.

Mission accomplished, but I wanted more. Now it looks like I have it!

O.K., truth in advertising time, there is actually one other Wallander tale that I have not read. In June, 2004, in the Netherlands only, a 90 page Wallander short story called The Grave was distributed as a complimentary gift to people who purchased crime novels. I do not believe that this story has been translated to English.


Except for Hans de Heer of course.

I went to the Barnes and Noble book store in Ventura and, sure enough, they had the new Wallander book in hardback only for a mere $27.

Given our current economic constraints, I decided against buying it. What to do?

The answer was simple, I looked back once again to something that Uffe taught me last Winter, get a library card. Often times, the old ways are the best ways.

With Uffe clearly in mind, I went to the Camarillo Public Library to see if they had a copy of this tenth/eleventh installment in the Wallander saga. Not only did they have a copy, they own three copies!

Unfortunately, all three were checked out. On the library's computer I noticed that they also had one copy of a DVD on the Wallander series. YAHOO!!!

Famed English actor, Kenneth Branagh, with the help of the BBC, turned three of the Wallander books into three separate 90 minute English language movies in 2008. The three books in question were Sidetracked, Firewall and One Step Behind.

Now, Uffe always swore by Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård in the role of Wallander but I never got a chance to see him as Ystad's favorite detective. I thought that Branagh did a splendid job interpreting Inspector Wallander's flawed, interesting and complex personality.

The fact that all three films were shot in Skåne, i.e. Southern Sweden, brought back stunning visual images and fond memories of my time in Hässleholm.

The only negatives that I had were the English accents replacing the Swedish ones and hearing all the English actors use the word "bloody" over and over again when they got upset.

Also, the common book-to-movie time constraints issue was present. Although the central character, Wallander, was well developed, there simply was not enough time to enrich the fabric of the other on-going characters. Only by having read the other books can one realize how well Mankell develops and matures all of his charcters over time.

Still, it made for a great two days watching three very good DVDs.

By the way, in 2010 the BBC and Branagh joined forces again to produce three more Wallander films (Faceless Killers, The Fifth Woman and The Man Who Smiled) adapted from the books of the same name.

Can't wait!


Ryan Bolland said...

I'm half Dutch--my dad was born in the Netherlands.

George said...

O.K. then, the "Bollander" clan is exempt too.