This article offers an alternative to the predominant and pervasive theoretical
approaches to discussing time in film. It adheres to ordinary language, and moves
away from a ‘mapping’ of theoretical models or contextual analysis to concentrate on
a films specifics. It considers the particular handling of time in a particular film:
The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993). Fixing on specific points of style, the
article examines the interplay of time and gesture, and the editing techniques of
ellipses and dissolves. Both the article and the film hold their attention on the
intricacy and intimacy afforded by moments, as they pass. Both explore how the
intensity of a lovers relationship over decades is expressed in fleeting passages of
shared time. In doing so, the article advances a vocabulary of criticism to match the
rhetoric of the film, to appreciate the works handling of time. Detailed
consideration of this achievement allows for a greater understanding of the designs
and possibilities of time in cinema.
Swedish crime fiction became an international phenomenon in the first decade of the twenty-first century, starting with novels but then percolating through Swedish-language television serials and films into English-language BBC productions and Hollywood remakes. This book looks at the rich history of Nordic noir, examines the appeal of this particular genre, and attempt to reveal why it is distinct from the plethora of other crime fictions.
Film writing has rather overlooked cinematic colour. In a scrutiny of cinematic
moments, and when colour comes to the fore, films open up in new ways. This book
explores a spectrum of colourful applications. It begins by considering films
that use colour in sparing amounts, and moves on to discuss increasingly
abundant displays. While highlighting the use of colour, the book also considers
the connections between different stylistic elements such as camerawork,
editing, performance, music, and lighting. It also offers an alternative to
national, socio-political, and historically chronological approaches to film
style. Six films present chromatic measures moving from understatement to
amplification. Leading from one end of narrative cinema's colour spectrum,
the book examines Three Colours: White. It then explores
Equinox Flower hat is similarly restrained and concerned with
reservation. The book discusses how delicate colours accrue to convey a fragile
sensibility in The Green Ray. Written on the
Wind is about Technicolor schemes. It also considers the resemblances,
after Sirk's work, of a film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Next, it
addresses The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a multicoloured
fantasia of the everyday. The music, story, and colour combine and clash in
surprising ways in this film, in shifting forms of the 'style-subject
economy'. The book looks for language matching the rhetoric of the films
under scrutiny. It notes and moves beyond generally inscribed meanings of
certain colours, paying attention to shifting connections and comparisons.
The US serial drama Deadwood charts the birth of an American frontier town at a time when 'the forces of social order and anarchy are still in tension'. Following many prior examples of the Western from television and film, Deadwood is concerned with the fundamental theme of settlement, exploring the creation and closure of the frontier as a line between urbanised, civilised society and untamed wilderness and wildness. The series is distinctive in its sustained and intricate use of this thematic opposition to explore borders and boundaries. It achieves depth and complexity in its handling of established generic demarcations; in turn it is alert to the boundaries of roles performed within the Western genre, in the diegetic social enclave of Deadwood town.
The first chapter places the works in the historical contexts of Sweden’s past, the established generic formulae of the crime fiction, and of the country's entertainment industry. It considers Sweden’s uneasy situation as a small nation in the global age, disillusioned by the failure of a civic utopia, its isolationist reflexes tested by the ever-increasing encroachment of external influences. The chapter addresses the family history of Swedish crime works, and examines how the nation’s output taps into the established sub-genres, tropes and markers of the police procedural, detective drama, and amateur cop fiction. In turn, it considers the specific, industrial history of Sweden’s local and global cinematic enterprise, and its small-screen counterpart.
Chapter Two considers the ways that, following the teachings of the welfare state, the nation adheres to an emphasis on social forms of solidarity and homogenisation. In turn, it explores the impact of such an ideological drive on the individual. The crime dramas are particularly well-placed to examine communities in action, involving themselves in the tight-knit worlds of the police force, press, government, and legal systems. And at the heart of almost all the fictions, there is the family, existing at once as an individual entity – the Salanders, the Wallanders et al – and as representative of the wider nation state.
Chapter Three explores the distinctive landscapes of Scandinavia, as ‘Space and Place’. The wide open terrains, snowy vistas, and vast forests of Sweden’s far Northern hinterlands form an integral, expressive element of the crime fictions. The natural landscape is at the heart of the texts, directing the narrative, shaping the drama, informing and inflecting the meaning of each piece as it unfolds. The crowded streets of Stockholm are as central to Larsson’s Millennium trilogy as the retreat to Hedeby Island in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Regional geographical differences are also important to the crime fictions’ distinctive personalities. For example, in Wallander, like Oxford for Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, the town of Ystad becomes a fully-fledged character in its own right.
Chapter Four explores the texts’ presentations of sex and violence. As with the works’ handling of space and place, there is a key relationship between meditations on the human body – violated by murderers, protected or abused – and national identity. Equally, the move into psychological drama and the various ways in which the killer’s motives (for example) are revealed to the reader/viewer opens up further means by which Sweden’s fractured state is placed under scrutiny. In particular, the chapter extends thoughts on the texts’ handling of sex and sexuality. Sweden is often thought of, from urban myth to sociological fact, as a place of tolerance and the open celebration of sexuality. Addressing related matters of censorship, Chapter Four looks at how Swedish fictions have engaged with the roles and relationships between the sexes in the contemporary world, and with forms of sexual liberation in a (seemingly) permissive society.
Chapter Five presents five interview transcripts with leading figures in the world of Swedish crime drama: Mikael Wallén, Executive Producer of Yellow Bird Productions: the company behind the filmed Swedish versions of the Millennium trilogy as well as Wallander; with the Chief Executive of Left Bank Productions, Andy Harries; with Swedish crime novelists Johan Theorin and Mari Jungstedt, and horror writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.