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The darkness of Scandinavian Cinema is its pride and charm

The darkness of Scandinavian Cinema is its pride and charm

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The times of English thrillers are long gone and now, the Scandinavians are appropriating this genre in their cinema and literature. Indeed, as Mikkel Nørgaard remarks, in the last ten years, Scandinavian films have been dominating a fair share of the European production. With his second feature film, The Keeper of Lost Causes, that seems to be garnering quite a lot of praise here in Locarno, Nørgaard wished to explore a new direction, especially regarding the atmosphere, to take a Southern European style and bring it to the Nordic crime. He finds it important to nourish, preserve and be proud of the “melancholia” that is entrenched in the Northern countries. Instead of pushing away the darkness, he indeed embraces it in his film and there precisely lays its charm, thus explaining the success of the Scandinavian crime genre. Moreover, that famous tradition of a dark wave brings to the cinematography the realistic storytelling that it strived for, masterfully conveys its dark feel and takes the Scandinavian crime in a new direction.

We cannot but mention the film’s exploration of isolation, survival and escape from the inevitable darkness that connects the characters. “She is dark on the outside and he on the inside” says Sonja Richter, the lead actress, and they count on each other to escape this darkness. Its fairytale like nature present in the film only makes it more beautiful according to her.  

Nørgaard points out that while his two films are different in style and genre and although his new creation is a thriller, it does bear a humoristic tone as well as an influence from Lars von Trier and evokes a more classic filmmaking that takes cinema back to the old school and therefore its old quality. As far as the narrative structure of the film is concerned, Nicolaj Arcel (whom we all know as the director of the Oscar nominated A Royal Affair) explored various layers in time but held on to the atmosphere and essence of the book that should be approached in a different way than the film.

It is more than known that Scandinavian films, TV series and novels have been adapted in the United States recently (The Bridge, The Killing, the Millenium trilogy) but it is not among Nørgaard’s plan to cross to the ocean in order to create an American version of his recent work but he does not, however, rule out the highly likely possibility that somebody might be tempted to do it in the future. As a matter of fact, according to the leading actor Nicolaj Lies Kaas, the success is “to be as local and domestic as possible, to keep the ways of one’s own world”, a beautiful and charming thing that can be exported. In that sense, the film has already been sold to various territories that unfortunately exclude Italy (the director encourages Italian distributors to buy it!). Last night, for the first time (during its international premiere), Nørgaard and his crew showed proudly and excitedly their film in Locarno, a place that, in his opinion, embraces the artistic as well as the entertaining side of cinema.

Nørgaard looks forward to making four more films in this series as he eagerly wishes to return to it, hoping the audience will do so as well. He genuinely believes that he has found something special in building that special bond between Carl and Assad that brings humor and life to the film and goes beyond race and religion, thus admirably telling a story where who you are matters more than the color of your skin and where you hail from.

Tara Karajica
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