The Literary Genre of TV Land – Wallander

Wallander - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Wallander – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Wallander (2008, 2010)

Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Sarah Smart and Richard McCabe
Series Writing credits: Richard Cottan (6 episodes, 2008-2010), Henning Mankell (6 episodes, 2008-2010), Peter Harness (3 episodes, 2012). Based on Henry Mankell’s novels.

I love my crime thriller TV shows more than most. There is something that compels me to watch them. From my adolescent times I loved CSI and for a while wanted to be a forensic scientist, then I discovered I hated chemistry and because that was a major component of being a forensic scientist I decided it wasn’t for me. The investigation and the intrigue that comes with crime shows is something I love because it is narrative driven. However when it comes to a show like Wallander there is something primarily different about it. The pace, the setting, the characters, the stories, and the audience it attracts is very different from your usual CSI, NCIS, and Law&Order audience members. It is much more character driven than other crime shows and it is for this reason that it has become a new favourite for me. That and Tom Hiddleston is in it. He is the reason I started watching it. I may be a little obsessed but don’t let that bias my opinion of the show because disappointedly he is only a minor character in the show and so it isn’t the reason I kept watching.

This show follows the man Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) as he is confronted with the harsh reality of murder and the emotional damage that being around crime can have on a detective. It shows a different aspect of a detective as he continues to investigate these murders, it shows the character’s moral dilemma and the weight that is placed on the detectives as they try and make sense of the irrationality of murder. Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Kurt Wallander is full of theatrical depth that you expect from a thespian of his caliber but the most interesting this about this casting is that his performance is almost entirely held in his expressions. Wallander is a man of few words, he is closed off, cold, and tormented by his vocation and Branagh is able to convey the complexity of this character in a single eye flicker or the way he holds his body as he approaches a crime scene. Wallander is a man that is confronted with the most horrific of human behaviours and struggles to deal with the trauma of these circumstances. Branagh grabs you and takes you with him as he explores the world of Wallander and pulls you in as he becomes more emotionally and mentally drained by these cases.

The pace of this show is one of the surprising things I found in watching it. It is slow and quiet. The atmosphere is dense and weighty and it feels all encompassing as you sit and watch these characters and stories unfold. It is definitely not a style that most people would enjoy and I would compare it to a popular fiction reader attempting to read literary fiction for the first time. It is heavy going and it does take a while to get into it. There are particular moments in each episode where if I hadn’t felt compelled to find Tom Hiddleston in the first episode that I may have switched off, but once you meet Kurt Wallander and get to know him a little bit more you can’t help but keep watching. The stories are particularly dark and complex but also truly intriguing. I have really fell in love with the characters in Wallander and the stories that connect them together. It shows the real pace of investigation and the humanity that lies behind both the criminal acts and the justice provided, as well the haunting of those detectives who are faced with the horrific. It is moving and beautiful at the same time and I have felt connected to these characters more than I usually do in tv shows. They feel real, they feel like they could be out there in the world, they feel true. It is a look at the darkness that underpins the evil in this world and the grief that is carried through the acts of violence that police have to deal with. This is a beautiful and tragic look at investigation of crime.

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Williams vs Watson – My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

My Week With Marilyn – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

My Week With Marilyn (2012)

Director: Simon Curtis
Writers: Adrian Hodges (screenplay), Colin Clark (books)
Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh

My film critic friend (he has a proper job as a film critic whereas I’m a wannabe) remarked after we saw this film that society is intrigued with Marilyn but the majority of people will have never seen one of her films. I nodded my head as I tried to recollect whether I had ever seen her in anything other than documentaries. To my film-lover shock I realised I hadn’t seen anything but snippets of her in films. I had always been intrigued by film stars like Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, James Dean, etc who had died in tragic circumstances, but whether I had actually seen them act in anything was a different matter.

My Week With Marilyn is a soft, tortured look into the world that Marilyn lived and shows a little of what life could have been like for the star who tragically fell into the history books as a tortured soul. Michelle Williams’ portrayal of this starlet was a gorgeous representation and it felt faithful to the woman. Her coyness, emotion, and playfulness all came to brilliant light on screen and brought Marilyn back to life. Williams was able to transport me back into Marilyn’s time and illuminated the beauty and hypnosis that this woman possessed. It’s easy to see why men fell for her and wanted to rescue her by loving her.

The story itself was compelling but didn’t feel genuine at moments. I suppose there is an irrationality with things like love and Marilyn, but I didn’t feel like the story was plausible. Colin Clark’s choices seemed irrational and to be honest a little bit stupid. I mean I can understand that a man would fall in love with Marilyn but are men that stupid to not see that film stars like Marilyn don’t fall for PAs? I mean sure, in a perfect world, yes they might, but if you really think a film star that is in Britain for a short stint for a film, is married to someone else, and has a reputation for using the men around her is going to fall in love with you and leave everything for you then you are seriously deluded. And yes I know this is based on a recount from a living person but as a story goes I don’t see it as plausible. And I still think you’re an idiot for thinking Marilyn really loved you. Plus Emma Watson is gorgeous and why would you ever let that pass you by? All in all it was a good film and I was fully sucked in by the characters and the story but on reflection it loses some of its allure.