sat 18/05/2024

The Killing, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

The Killing, Channel 4

The Killing, Channel 4

US remake of dark Danish drama is overshadowed by the original

The Killing: Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden, a remarkable doppelgänger of Forbrydelsen’s Sarah Lund

The leap from BBC Four to Channel 4 is more than the flick of a switch. Migrating from the BBC’s digital channel to its terrestrial broadcast has transformed the Danish noir drama Forbrydelsen. It's now in English. It’s become American. Copenhagen has been banished. The alchemist responsible is US TV network AMC.

Channel 4’s screening of the US remake of The Killing will attract more viewers than BBC Four ever could, but it’s impossible to watch the Seattle-set makeover without thinking back to the original

More than the elephant in the room, Forbrydelsen (called that here to distinguish between the two) is the room – the room in which The Killing has to find its own place. The US Killing has obvious differences from Forbrydelsen. The Danish original had 20 episodes. The Killing has 13. Channel 4 and the American audience get around 43 minutes per episode. Denmark and BBC Four got just under 55 minutes. The continual punctuation brought by the need for ad breaks in the AMC rendition breaks the flow. The Killing has to, somehow, be a lesser thing than Forbrydelsen. Thankfully, it’s not a travesty like AMC’s recent and pointless version of The Prisoner.

The credits for The Killing say it is “based on” Forbrydelsen. It is. The plot is the same. Scenes are exactly the same. Yet Copenhagen is now Seattle, a fashionably edgy and oft-seen city. Could AMC have matched the challenge of the sinuous narrative and gone for somewhere unpredictable? A Toledo, Ohio? Or a Sioux Falls, South Dakota? As for that “based on”. Abridged and remixed might be a better description.

The_Killing_Darren_Richmond__webDetective Sarah Lund, played in Denmark by Sofie Grabøl, has become Sarah Linden (played by Mireille Enos). Other characters are Americanised. Local politician Troels Hartmann is now Darren Richmond. Theis Birk Larsen, the father of murdered schoolgirl Nanna Birk Larsen (now Rosie Larsen), is Stanley Larsen. Pernille Birk Larsen, her mother, is now Mitch Larsen. Some portrayals are very similar to the Danish originals. Stanley Larsen is a ringer for Bjarne Henriksen’s Theis Birk Larsen. Stephen Holder, Linden’s detective partner (played by Joel Kinnaman), looks a wee bit like Forbrydelsen’s Jan Meyer and carries a fair amount of the original’s chippiness. Holder and Meyer are equally fond of junk food. Lars Mikkelsen’s Troels Hartmann was more tortured, more vulpine than his glossier, emotion-driven American counterpart as played by Billy Campbell (pictured right). Hartmann was a more layered character. As Richmond, Campbell delivers some terrifically clunky lines: “I was taking a much-needed break” he intones in episode two.

Sarah_Lund02_webEnos will draw most scrutiny. She's said she didn’t watch Forbrydelsen. Grabøl’s Sarah Lund became an instantly iconic detective dedicated to a work that she detached from her private life (pictured left). Family were not allowed in, however much her mother went on at her. Her look was downbeat. She hardly changed her outfit, that Faroe Islands sweater becoming the touchstone for the series. Enos’s Linden is a remarkable doppelgänger, even with a differently patterned jumper. Lund-Linden don’t look the same, but their mannerisms are this-close. When her partner Holder makes a faux pas talking to Stanley Larsen, the Enos/Linden facial reaction is a photocopy of that of Grabøl/Lund’s. The brusque ending of mobile phone conversations with her soon-to-be husband are handled in the same way too. Taking what Enos has said straight, this must be extraordinary direction.

The drama draws you, keeps you hooked. The narrative draws the characters. The Killing and Forbrydelsen are not simply about the murder of a schoolgirl and the interweaving of the case with local politics and the characters' ingrained attitudes; they both depict the effect of the murder, its ripples and the consequent buffeting of the characters. The loss of self impacts on family, loved ones and day-to-day life - and on those whose job it is to deal with a murder. SoThe Killing captures the spirit of Forbrydelsen. The plot is there. Most of the characters are there. Atmosphere is present, with a constantly rainy Seattle. It succeeds as a stand-alone drama. But if Forbrydelsen is at all familiar, The Killing will never have, and cannot have, the impact of its more measured, more subtle Danish role model.

The credits for The Killing say it is “based on” Forbrydelsen. Abridged and remixed might be a better description

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Having watched the Danish version of The Killing...I knew watching this new version would be can you improve on perfection? and yes i was right..ok, I accept that it is set in a different country, different cast, shorter run...but did they have to copy such random things like Sarah Lund's jumper!!.. no more episodes for me, will be waiting for series 2 of the Danish version...cant wait..for 20 episodes of the first series had me on the edge of my seat looking forward to every saturday night. Why are such series shown on BBC4? the recent Butcher of La Villette is another example of brilliant television pushed into the the BBC think we cant read the subtitles?..cant appreciate good quality programmes? or perhaps they dont want us to as it shows us just how much dross we have to suffer the majority of time. The only saving grace is their recent Drama on BBC2..The Shadow Line...the cast, the lighting,sets, writing...all can be done but i believe at a cost the 'beeb' no longer wish to commit to...after all they have soaps,lottery and cookery shows to pay for!!!

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