Friday, February 15, 2013

Arne Dahl: Books and Films

When it came out in English, Arne Dahl's Misterioso was obviously (to me) one of the best crime novels to have arrived from Scandinavia. So I was thrilled to learn that a Swedish TV-film based on that and the 4 subsequent "Intercrime" novels were available with English subtitles. The movie-version of Misterioso was very good, and faithful to the plot, characters, and spirit of the book. Subsequent films were equally good, but the second in the series, Bad Blood (Ont Blod in the original Swedish) dipped into the lurid serial killer segment of the crime fiction spectrum--not my favorite fictional neighborhood. I'm glad I saw the film, because in addition ot the clever cruelty, the characters in the ensemble cast were developed further, plus there's some interesting international politics and intrigue.

But now there's a dilemma. Bad Blood, the novel, is about to be released in English. Would the skill of the writer overcome the distaste I have for the lurid subject matter? Does the movie version in any way stand in for the book, or substitute for it? Usually the experience of reading is enough different from the experience of watching that I don't mind revisiting the book after the film or vice versa. Any thoughts on watching the same plot you've already read, or reading the same story you've already watched?

I think I'm coming down on the side of skipping the on-paper version of Bad Blood--not only because of the serial killer plot, but also because of the height of my current TBR stack. If anybody's interested, I can post reviews of the series (I'm halfway through the 4th installament--each book becomes 2 90-minute episodes). I also just learned that "Arne Dahl," both the name of the author and the title of the TV series, is a pseudonym for the writer Jan Arnald.


Dan J said...

I'm definitely interested in reviews! Been watching Branagh's Wallander on Amazon Prime and enjoying every minute. Where are you getting these to watch?

Glenn Harper said...

I got the Arne Dahl series DVDs from Amazon (I waited for the price to come down to a reasonable level). Like a lot of the non-U.S. movies and TV series, the disks are Region 2/PAL, so you have to either use a region-free DVD player or a computer that will let you change regions. You have to be careful, too, about subtitles on Amazon, sometimes a seller will list a film as having subtitles in English and there aren't any, actually. But in this case, the subtitles were fine, if a bit small.

Lauren said...

I saw this on German TV, and have also read the book in question (things are translated a lot faster into German than English). And, well, I do think the book is interesting and worth a read, but it's not different enough from the TV series (apart from making Hultin female, which is a decision I rather approve of) that you'd miss a lot by skipping it.

I did like the TV series (somewhat to my surprise). It's very well cast, too, even if it suffered from some of the logic failures that also emerge in the books from time to time. And certain things (love at first sight) definitely work better textually and visually! (I also don't know why they bothered giving Chavez a girlfriend he then abandoned, since his motivation for not being in a relationship in the book was convincing enough. Mind you, the personal backstories of many of the characters fall into the "seriously weird" category anyway!)

Anyway, books and TV series are uneven but always very interesting.

Unknown said...

BBC4 is now showing the 5 Arne Dahl films on Saturday nights, with each one broken into two parts. The third episode (part 1 of Bad Blood) was broadcast tonight, and the 2 previous episodes (parts 1 and 2 of The Blinded Man/Misterioso) are still available on the iPlayer though probably not for long.

The BBC4 Saturday night time slot is international mystery (noir or not) heaven. During the past couple of years, it's included all 3 seasons of the Danish The Killing, 4 seasons of the French Spiral, the Swedish/Danish The Bridge, the Italian Inspector Montalbano, etc., all with good English subtitles.

Tip: If you're not in the UK, but have a Mac, search for "get iPlayer automator" which is a great utility that allows BBC downloads.