Investigating Nordic Noir

Author: Alexi, Sofia

Date: 2017

Publisher: Victoria University of Wellington

Type: Scholarly text, Masters

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Victoria University of Wellington


Scandinavian crime films and television series have become popular in recent years. This thesis explores some of the key texts in ‘Nordic noir’ through a discussion of detectives, the environment, and visual style. The emphasis in the project is on textual analysis. The first chapter examines the figures of Wallander and Lund in Wallander and Forbrydelsen respectively. I argue that the conflicts Nordic detectives often have between work and the domestic sphere are an indication of how gender stereotypes are challenged in the Scandinavian crime genre. The second chapter considers the role of the natural and built environments in Nordic noir. Features such as forests and water play a crucial role in Forbrydelsen because of the ways in which they create uncertainty, anticipation, and suspense. The urban spaces of Bron/Broen develop a sense of anonymity that recalls the function of the city in classic film noir. Rather than developing links between Sweden and Denmark, the series suggests that the Øresund bridge that spans the two countries is ultimately a disconnecting, centrifugal force that functions as what Marc Augé would call a ‘non-place’. The final chapter considers the role of colour and light in the films Insomnia and Jar City. My analysis demonstrates that Nordic noir encompasses more than naturalism and realism. Like classic and neo-noir, it includes a range of expressive aesthetic strategies that serve both narrative and thematic functions.

Subjects: Nordic noir, Scandinavian noir, Scandinavian crime film