Thursday, October 07, 2010
Irene Huss video #1: The Torso
The first film in the Swedish TV series based on the Irene Huss novels of Helene Tursten is The Torso (The Tattooed Torso in the original Swedish, apparently). The first book in the series, Den krossade tanghästen or, in the English version, Detective Inspector Huss, was filmed out of order: not sure whether the film people wanted the more sensationalist story of The Torso as a lead-in, or perhaps the "tattoo" links to a certain other tattoo of international fame.
The film is in some ways a rather typical cop show, with a villain stalking the investigators and ultimately threatening the detective's family. But the factors that make the books interesting also apply to the film: Irene is not a gloomy alcoholic, she's a happily married (to a chef) professional. The police team is actually almost (but not quite) gender balanced, with three women important to the series (I wonder whether that's typical of the actual police situation--the various books and films lead us to believe there are senior cops more prominent in Sweden than elsewhere).
It has been a couple of years since I read The Torso, but the film captures the characters and scenes very much as I had imagined them. The actor playing Huss, Angela Kovacs, is not quite how I had pictured the detective, but (once having seen her in the role) she becomes Irene in much the same way that Luca Zingaretti has become Commissario Montalbano for those who have seen that excellent Italian conversion of books into TV films.
There are 6 Irene Huss films that have made it into circulation with English subtitles, three taken from the books that have been translated. So one of the virtues of the DVDs is that three of the untranslated books are available in film translations rather than language translations, since apparently SoHo Press is not translating any more of Tursten's books. Perhaps the availability of the films (and the link to that other tattoo, as well as to the film company that filmed THAT series) will encourage SoHo or someone else to get moving on Tursten translations. It's one of the best of the Scandinavian series, not least because Irene is so normal (rather than tortured or spectacularly flawed).