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Reviews of Scandinavian Films and TV Series


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Those Who Kill and Katrine’s Emotional Responses

I’ve been watching Those Who Kill (Den Som Draeber). It’s clear that the protagonist Katrine at certain parts of the movie feels shame. The actress does an excellent job of displaying it in her facial expressions. She sort of hesitates and almost winces in a particular way when the character is becoming intimate with a man. I was able to see it before but I didn’t know what I was noticing. She looks like she’s feeling shame, “Like do I really deserve to be with a good partner? Do I really deserve to get a good man ? I’m not the kind of person that deserves to have good in this way. Do I really get to have good in this way ?”

Katrine is an interesting and complex character. She is the detective who fights the “bad guys.” But the bad guys are always attacking her and going straight for her as if drawn to her. Katrine is again and again “revictimized.” She is and isn’t a victim though. She’s not a helpless victim and she is a helpless victim. One one occasion she is kidnapped by a serial killer that she is hunting (who she triggered) and he attempts to break her down, violate her and kill her. She fights him off and get the gun out of his hands and cornered in a room alone with him she is ready to shoot him in self defence. Her colleagues arrive to rescue her just as she is about to pull the trigger and so they end up rescuing the serial killer. She is and she isn’t a victim. At another time in the series unknowingly she is dating the very serial killer that she is hunting for. She realizes that he is the serial killer she is hunting just as he attempts to kill her and fights him off. The police she works with arrive just in time to stop her from punching him to death. She always fights off the predators both personally as a woman and also professionally as a detective and police officer.

Another area that the series focuses on is Katrine’s anger and the sequelae of her abuse at the hands of her stepfather as a child. You could call this Katrine’s “PTSD” which is partly what drives her to catch the serial killers and make the world a safer place. Katrine is readily told to get her emotions under control and manage her anger but in the end you can see that this is what makes her such an effective detective and police officer. It motivates her to do the right thing and make the world a better place. She is not over what happened to her in a good way, she has allowed it to change her into the kind of person that changes the world and protects other would be victims. The series shows us what pathological rage looks like and then contrasts this with Katrine’s emotions. Katrine is an extremely well developed character over the course of the series and her development as a character is interwoven skillfully with the plot. I highly recommend this sometimes deep, dark and always deeply uplifting series.

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Those That Kill: Dem Som Draeber: Everyone in this show is amazingly good looking, including the criminals! It’s almost hard to not be attracted to the criminals. I wonder if this was done intentionally to really imitate real life where criminals can be attractive and to provoke audience feelings and then self reflection on those feelings. Catherine the detective has an interesting life story and scars. She finds meaning in life in spite of her scars by helping others. The killers always seem to go for her and she ends up fighting for her life. She always seems to fight them off and be just at the point of killing them before the rest of the police force arrives to “chivalrously” save the killers from her self defence.
Everyone is always telling Catherine she needs to get her anger under control because the way that she deals with the criminals is very passionate and involves some amount of anger and passion for justice. This show gives a good discussion and contrast between good emotional scars and rage and bad emotional scars and rage. The show also touches on the question of whether people can abdicate responsibility for changing the world.
I found this show incredibly touching and deep, even though it had a very short lifespan as a TV series in Denmark. This show pulled me in from the start and got under my skin and made me feel things. I can’t remember the last time a TV show has affected me this deeply.

Sorrow and Joy: Sorg og Glaede: Jakob Cedergren does an incredible job of portraying a grieving father. He looks so incredibly believably sad. I found the part of the plot where the husband talks about how he got his wife to stop taking her medicine, which triggered her psychotic episode quite sad. It was also interesting that her mother was in such denial about her daughter’s illness that she thought her stopping medicine was a good idea. This made me wonder what causes parents to prefer to be in denial about children’s mental illness. The fact that this film is based on the true story of the director’s life added a lot to the impact it had on me and made it significantly more real. I couldn’t stop thinking that this had happened to the director of the film, the very storyteller.