An Investigation Into Nordic noir ISABELLA KEAN

Nordic Noir is a sub genre to the historic film style Noir, a French word typically used to describe crime dramas and psychological thriller in the 40s and 50s. Nordic noir is a type of Scandinavian crime drama that typically features a dark or mysterious story line. The Genre can be recognised by its common set of distinguishing features for example, a particular setting, character type or technical codes e.g. low key lighting and unusual camera placement. I like the grey de-saturated colour scheme can be seen through out. Scandinavians are known for being trendy and stylish. This is apparent in the mise en scene; the interior is modern and sleek making the shot aesthetically pleasing.

I have investigated into two Nordic noirs series’ The Bridge and Wallander. I chose Nordic noir because it has a distinctive style, I like that they frequently leave the episodes of a cliff hangers, which leaves the audience wanting more. Every shot is thought out and well composed. They tend to have a theme of corpuscular gloom which gives the scene a tense atmosphere.

The first series I looked into was The Bridge, directed by Henrick Georgsson. The main locations they filmed in were kobenhagan and Denmark. The production company was Film Lance International AB. It was most popular in the UK. The Bridge won 6 awards and was nominated for 12. It attracted over 2 million views, I believe the success of the Nordic noir is the location and scenery. Scandinavia is a place of natural beauty and almost utopian society. Its stereotypically known for beautiful people leading idealistic lives. A perfect setting for a murder. This is a typical convention in noir styled films they are usually set in isolated or idyllic places, making the murder more unexpected. The unexpectedness make the audience more engaged as they are shocked by what happened so they want to find out more.

Its conventional for Nordic noir styled films to have strong characterization. They do this to create another layer to the text creating some diversity. This either creates conflict or binary opposites. Crime dramas often use binary opposites such as cops vs criminals. The bridge meets this typical convention as the two main characters Saga and Martin are extremely contrasting. Stereotypes are played with as Denmark is seen, both by themselves and the others, as the most laid back country. Sweden see Danes as lazy and without self-control ever. Martins characters also meets the classic stereotypes of a Dane. He is laid back and lazy. This is shown in the scene where saga calls him at 2 am and she is at the office Martin however was in bed and still confused when he answered the phone. Showing there strong juxtaposing characters. Saga, an independent strong woman and is a very straight to the point character. Sagas meets the characteristics of a stereotypical swede. Sweden is seen as the most advanced country in terms of technology. They’re known for being up tight, punctual, blunt and open about everything.When I watched the episode there was a scene where this was clear. She was in her office and took off her top in front of Martin. Martin, the Danish detective, was shocked by this behavior as his code of ethics are so different in Denmark.

In my opinion the reason for using strong characterization in the bridge, is more than just to create tension between characters it also to represent the social divide between Sweden and Denmark. The directors and writers have placed an underlying meaning in the narrative using these two characters to do this.

The age certificate was a 15 due to the violence and sex. Polysemy is used for the audience to decode it. 15 years old would understand the encoded messages and symbols that the director has put there for the audience. however anyne younger may just see what is happening on screen and not understand the deeper meaning.

There are many levels that the audience understanding things on, this would depend on education, up bringing and age. There are three different ways the audience can absorb the text. They can fully accept the authors views this is called a preferred reading. You can have people who partly agree, negotiated reading and someone who doesn’t agree this Is called oppositional reading.

The criminal perfectly planned for the Danish and Swedish police departments to work together on solving the case. As he placed the body exactly on the border on Denmark and Sweden, making the two countries work together and resolving there political and moral differences.

They discover later in the episode that the body had been brutally cut off at the waist and joined together, it had the torso of a high profile Swedish politician and the legs of a prostitute. No-one even realised the prostitute was missing but there was a big disruption when the politician went missing representing the importance of social class in Sweden.

After looking into The Bridge I looked into another Nordic noir Wallander.

Linda is training to be a police office.

The main protagonist Linda is a heroic and brace character. This is evident when Linda carelessly wonders into the wood by her self in search of a criminal showing her character as fearless and confident from the on set.

As I mentioned earlier it is common for skandi crime dramas to have contrasting characters and binary opposites to create another layer of tension.

Anna Linda's so called friend is the complete opposite of Linda. She is a shy and timid character. She however holds strong religious beliefs. She believes that abortion and sperm ... wrong "it's sick, it's strange that there is no father involved" she says this directly to the mothef of the child showing that even through she's shy she is confident enough to express her beliefs and values showing how important it is to her. She goes on the say that the baby "is a product of insemination" and leaves as she gets angry that linda is backing the mothers point.

We later find out she is part of a cult. An extremist group that take punishing people's sins into there own hands.Exacuting people by hangover no them. "Anyone talking gods place with have the flaming wrath of god" they have taken this quote from the bible and literally took this word for word.

its conventional for nodic noirs to use obscure and obstructed camera angles. They do this to give the sense of a presents or someone standing there. An example of this was when Linda was in the forest and the camera was placed behind a tree. This could make the audiance think some one is standing there making the shot a POV.

The music in nordic noir is used in the same way in both programs its used for suspence and to build tenson. For example a chase scene the music will get louder and more layers will be added. the pitch tends to get higher when something is about to happen this is called hit point where the music and video match.


what have you learnt from this investigation? From this investigation I have learnt the importance of making the genre clear through using generic conventions for example low key lighting in the bridge to signify a theme of corpuscular gloom. If the mise-en-scene doesn’t match the script it will leave the audience confused on what they are watching. I will use what i have learnt from this investigatin in my own work.

From this investigation I have learnt that Nordic noirs do challenge my interpretation of moving image as Nordic noir is always based on true or serious situations. Nordic noirs are often very real dramas are based of real life.

The Swedish are stereotypically known for being open as I mentioned earlier. As an English audience we are shocked by the sight of a little skin or sexual intimacy on TV however violence in English TV is now normal as we have been Desensitized to it 30 years ago blood or violence would be horrifying. This shows how time has developed.

Crime dramas also rely on contrast to make an impact on the audience whether its juxtaposing 2 different stereotypes or binary opposites such as cop vs criminal. They do this to add an extra layer of action and drama.

The bridge and Wallander meet classic conventions of a Swedish crime drama the mise-en-scene and tecniqual codes/conventions are used to make the genre clearer. However, a common theme I noticed when watching Swedish crime dramas was the narrative structure. They lead the audience down a sustain path and at the last minuet the narrative strand will stop or change direction. This makes the audience surprised and intrigued as it was unexpected. There Is a common theme of realism as it’s a crime drama making the program more mature as it has many different levels in which an audience can understand the media text on.An audience can inetprate the text on different levels or not at all. This is called a reading.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.